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Advice (Not Taken) for the French Revolution from America

In 1789, at the onset of the French Revolution, that American model was France’s for the taking—she had helped pay for it, and Frenchmen had fought and died for it. When the French set about drafting a constitution and establishing unfamiliar political and judicial institutions, advice and wisdom from thoughtful Americans might have been highly useful. After all, the Americans had already drafted a Constitution, elected George Washington as their first president, and, in the summer of 1789, were in the process of framing a Bill of Rights.

But the tables quickly turned. The French had strong doubts about their sister revolution. Some believed they could improve upon what the Americans had done—maybe even surpass it.


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