"A torch lighted in the forests of America set all Europe in conflagration." Thus Voltaire had written concerning the impact of the American Revolution on the Old World. French intellectuals had long admired Newtonian science and Lockean political theory. The successful revolutions in England in 1688 and in America a century later emphasized the anachronistic nature of the status quo in eighteenth century France. It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that in the year when Americans completed their revolution the French began a movement which was to involve practically the entire European continent, drastically reshape its social and political institutions, and make its repercussions felt even in the New World. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "2. The French Revolution, 1789-1815. Pt. XI: The Revolutionary Years, 1776-1815." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 29-43.