Was It the French Revolution or the American Revolution?


By: Patrick Hyde

6 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

The 18th century ended with a bang as two violent revolutions erupted in the American Colonies and France, shaking the established world order and forever changing the destiny of history. These two conflagrations saw Enlightenment ideals of republican government and liberty put into action, even if it meant beheading a king.

The American Revolution came first, with open warfare between 1775 to 1783. A series of burdensome taxes, tyrannical decrees and oppressive measures raised the ire of American colonists. Without any representation in Parliament, they felt they had no right to be taxed and would be better off ruling themselves. The British disagreed.

In France, a catastrophic economic situation and chronic agricultural shortages put the people on edge and forced the King to start discussions on solutions. The talks did not go well. Persistent inequality and tyrannical measures pushed the envelope towards open rebellion, which would dovetail into a bloody Reign of Terror and a series of wars with the rest of Europe.

While similar principles underpinned both revolutions, they took very different paths. Are you a master of revolutionary knowledge? Tell us whether the following events occurred in the French or American Revolution!

Regicide is the murder of a monarch. Which revolution killed a king?

The French monarch Louis XVI lost his head in 1793 at the hands of the National Convention. He attempted to flee France at a time when the Revolution took a turn for the radical, sealing his fate.


One revolution started with a famous rider alerting the rebels that the enemy army was on the move. It was the:

"One if by land, two if by sea" was Paul Revere's order to his friend to alert the American revolutionary forces which way the British army was arriving. He rode through the streets of Boston at the very beginning of the conflict.


A radical revolutionary wrote "The Friend of the People" newspaper, naming enemies of the Revolution.

Radical revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat wrote the celebrated paper "L'Ami du peuple" from his bathtub, due to a medical skin condition. He advocated for the rights of the poor, but also incited violence against enemies of the Revolution.


Working class women marched on a hated prison to protest unfair economic conditions and tyranny.

In one of the most dramatic events of the early revolution, Parisian women took to the streets en masse on October 5th, 1789 to protest the high prices for basic staples like bread. They stormed the hated Bastille prison, a symbol of the oppressive French monarchy.


The monarchy applied the Quartering Act and Stamp Act, two Intolerable Acts that drove the subjects to which revolution?

The Quartering Act of 1765 was one of the first so-called Intolerable Acts imposed by the British parliament on the Thirteen Colonies. It decreed that the Royal Army would be housed in public houses and inns at the colonists' expense.


The Committee of Public Safety was in charge of defending the new republic from foreign threats in which country?

The most frightful and bloody years of the French Revolution were under the Committee of Public Safety. Led by Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre, this powerful Jacobin body led purges of anti-revolutionary forces and tried to fight off foreign invading powers.


One of the biggest parts of this revolution was the abolition of feudalism.

The early debates of the French Revolution centered around the unfair advantages of the First and Second Estates, or the clergy and the nobility. In 1789 the National Assembly decided to completely abolish feudalism in France, striking a blow to moderate reformers who wanted to keep the old system.


Protesters dumped tea in the harbor in a provocation to the monarchy in which revolution?

American colonists were fed up with the tyrannical taxes that they were forced to pay without any political say. So in May 1773, a group of demonstrators boarded a ship owned by the British East India Company and dumped tea into the harbor.


Which revolution is the origin of the quote: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country"?

American patriot Nathaniel Hale said the fateful words before his execution early in the American Revolution. Hale belonged to Knowlton's Rangers, America's first intelligence organization.


Revolutionaries from which conflict adopted the motto "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity?"

Classical liberal Enlightenment ideals concerning freedom and equality inspired Robespierre to introduce this French revolutionary motto. Today, it is the official motto of the former French nation of Haiti.


The American and French Revolutions rocked the world in the 18th century. During which conflict were the two allied?

The French monarchy, along with the Spanish, allied with the Americans during their revolution against the British. Meanwhile, the young American government maintained a position of disapproving neutrality to the more radical French Revolution.


These liberty-loving revolutionaries wrote The Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen.

Inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the French wrote the Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen to kick off their revolution. Thomas Jefferson was invited to consult on the language and themes of the document.


Republicans handed the king an Olive Branch Petition in a last attempt to prevent violence in the:

Relations between King George III and the Thirteen Colonies were at an all-time low in 1775. The Second Continental Congress agreed with John Dickinson to seek out one last road to peace when they unsuccessfully extended the Olive Branch Petition.


Revolutionary forces crossed a river on Christmas Eve to surprise Hessian soldiers in which revolution?

George Washington's iconic crossing of the icy Delaware River to surprise Hessian mercenaries in service of the British army is one of the most celebrated feats of the American Revolution. The Hessians were taken completely by surprise, cut down during their Christmas Eve celebrations.


A pamphlet titled "Common Sense" raised support among the populace for the Republican cause.

Thomas Paine wanted to write a pamphlet that broke down the argument for American independence and self-rule in a language that everyone could understand. The result is the most widely-circulated and best-selling publication in American history.


One of the darkest periods of this revolution is known as the September Massacres.

Paranoia reached a deadly peak in Paris in September of 1792, when the revolutionaries were worried about the advancing royalist and foreign armies. In their frenzy, they executed over 1,000 people, mostly prisoners, in a matter of hours.


A traitor by the name of Benedict Arnold betrayed his countrymen in which revolution?

A Connecticut colonist by birth, Benedict Arnold rose to the rank of Major General in the Continental Army and scored several major victories against the British Army. Then when he was in charge of defending West Point, he plotted to surrender the fortress over to the British in exchange for a large sum of money.


Louisiana belonged to the French until they sold it to the American government during this revolution.

After Napoleon's dreams of re-establishing a French empire in North America fizzled out, he sold an enormous swath of French territory to Thomas Jefferson in a bid to finance his wars in Europe. The 828,000 square miles of the territory now make up some land in 15 American states.


To defend against British ships, this country formed a marine corps that is still in the armed forces today.

The USMC is one of the most decorated branches of the American armed forces. They got their start in 1775 and made several amphibious landings on British territory in the West Indies during the war.


Facing opposition from the king, a group of assemblymen made the famous Tennis Court Oath to demand a constitution.

This dramatic incident occurred when the Third Estate, representing the common French citizens, found themselves barred out of a National Assembly meeting. The delegation, which represented 98% of the French population, went to a tennis court in the neighborhood and swore that they would not rest until France had a constitution.


The British passed the Seditious Meetings and Treasonable Practices Act in response to which revolution?

King George III grew hot under the collar losing the American colonies and then seeing his French counterpart beheaded, so he passed some legislative acts aimed to prevent revolutionary behavior on British soil. The measures targeted the Jacobin alehouse club and other institutions where talk of lawbreaking happened.


Conservative Irish statesman Edmund Burke wrote his "Reflections on the Revolution" as advocacy for traditionalism in response to which Republican movement?

In this defining conservative document, Edmund Burke argued that the French Revolution's abstract Enlightenment basis would devolve into chaos and dictatorship. The document was popular in its own time and would again come into use during the 20th century.


Which revolutionary army spent a brutal winter camped less than 20 miles from the capital city?

The American Revolution teetered on the brink of collapse during the brutal winter of 1777, as George Washington and the Continental Army camped at Valley Forge. The army had hoped to recapture the capital city of Philadelphia and spend the winter there but was forced to stay outside in the elements with poor supplies.


The meeting of the Estates General was the prelude to which revolution?

King Louis XVI was forced to convene the Estates General for the first time in decades following a prolonged agricultural crisis in France. The Third Estate, composed of commoners representing 98% of the population, broke off and set the wheels in motion for the revolution.


Representatives of the Age of Enlightenment, several members of this revolution advocated the deistic "Cult of the Supreme Being" as the new state religion.

The Catholic Church had a hugely disproportionate share of wealth, land and power in France. So when committed rationalists like Maximilian Robespierre ran the show, they advocated a new state religion that would erase the influence of the hated Church.


A ship in the King's Navy, Gaspee, was torched by distraught partisans in the:

Tensions between colonists and British officials were high following the Boston Massacre, which is what led John Brown and his followers to burn the HMS Gaspee. The Gaspee drew the ire of Rhode Island colonists because it was a customs ship that inspected their cargo.


A shortage of bread and other foodstuffs led to food riots in the capital city and edged closer to rebellion in which revolution?

While lofty ideals of liberty and fraternity influenced a lot of French revolutionaries, fundamental issues of subsistence led others to challenge the established order. Paris saw many food riots on the lead up to and throughout the French revolution.


Anti-revolutionary forces and loyal monarchists trembled if they found themselves before the Revolutionary Tribunal. What revolution did it exist in?

The guillotine is synonymous with the bloody excesses of the French Revolution, and the Revolutionary Tribunal is synonymous with the guillotine. This political court sentenced political traitors to death and gained immense power during the Reign of Terror.


The revolutionary forces suffered a defeat at the hands of monarchists in the Battle of Brandywine.

Brandywine was the largest battle of the American Revolution, with over 30,000 soldiers clashing outside of Philadelphia. The Continental Army under Washington was unable to fend off Sir William Howe and General Cornwallis, leading to the fall of the American capital at Philadelphia.


Fueled by hard spirits, mutineers at Pompton put a dark stain on what revolutionary army?

George Washington was dismayed to receive news that a brigade of about 300 soldiers was in open mutiny and marching towards the Continental Congress to make demands. He squashed the rebellion and placed some of the rebels in front of a firing squad.


An artillery officer won resounding victories in this revolution and later went on to become leader of the republic.

The French Revolution sent shockwaves through Europe after revolutionaries executed the king and queen and seized Catholic Church lands. In the ensuing wars meant to quash the rebellion, Napoleon Bonaparte gained fame and power from stunning victories as an artillery captain.


Although the British monarchy was decidedly against the revolution, a lively debate known as the Revolution Controversy over the merits of republican government took place during which revolution?

Edmund Burke's condemnation of the French Revolution kickstarted a heated and earnest discussion of the merits and drawbacks of the revolutionary experiment in France. Thinkers like Mary Wollstonecraft advocated for the French cause in the early years of the revolution, but most withdrew support during the reign of terror.


If you were an outspoken loyalist to the king, you might find yourself tarred and feathered by patriots of what revolution?

Tensions in colonial towns ran high as the American Revolution forced most people to pick a side, often pitting neighbor against neighbor. In some instances, loyalists were tarred and feathered and dragged through town. The French opted for the swift efficiency of the guillotine.


A new nation needs to be accepted by the diplomatic community. Morocco was the first country to recognize this republic after its revolution.

The North African nation of Morocco formally recognized the new United States government in 1786, the first country to do so. Thomas Barclay traveled to Marrakesh and inked the deal with the Sultan.


All this over a cup of tea? The Tea Act outraged the powerful merchant class in the prelude to which revolution?

The hated Tea Act of 1773 granted the British East India Company a monopoly on the trade market in the colonies, undercutting colonial merchants. This was the last of the so-called Intolerable Acts and led to the infamous Boston Tea Party.


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