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HIST303: The Age of Revolutions in the Atlantic World, 1776–1848

Unit 1: The Enlightenment and the Origins of the Revolutionary Age   In the mid-18th century, the Atlantic world was dominated by European empires and their colonies.  Europe was ruled by monarchies, many of them absolute.  Beginning in 1776, a series of revolutions shook Europe and the Atlantic World.  European countries and colonies, formerly ruled by aristocratic regimes, embraced new and radical principles of self-governance and equality.  Absolute monarchies were dismantled in Europe and independent republics emerged in the Americas.  Although revolutionary fervor swept across Europe and the Americas between 1776 and 1840, each revolution—whether in British America, Haiti, France, or South America—had its own distinct character.      
     
In this unit, you will examine how the European Enlightenment and the crisis of monarchy paved the way for the revolutionary age.  You will also consider how the idea of equality took on increasing importance in the Atlantic world during this time.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take approximately 18 hours. 

    Subunit 1.1: 11.5 hours
 

    Subunit 1.1.1: 5 hours

    Subunit 1.1.2: 1.75 hours

    Subunit 1.1.3: 0.75 hour

    Subunit 1.1.4: 3 hours

    Subunit 1.1.5: 1 hour

    Subunit 1.2: 6 hours

    Subunit 1.2.1: 0.5 hour

    Subunit 1.2.2: 0.5 hour

    Subunit 1.2.3: 0.5 hour

    Subunit 1.2.4: 0.75 hour

    Subunit 1.2.5: 0.25 hour

    Subunit 1.2.6: 3.5 hours
 

    Unit 1 Assessment: 0.5 hour
 

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - analyze the history of the revolutionary age between 1776 and 1800; - define what a revolution means as well as describe what made 1776–1848 an age of revolution; - discuss the basic history of Ancient Regime Europe, its structure, and social divisions; - explain the meaning and implications of the term Social Contract; and - explain the basic intellectual and technical movements associated with the Enlightenment and their relations to the revolutionary movements that follow.

1.1 Revolution   1.1.1 What is a Revolution?   - Reading: Virginia Tech: Gustave Le Bon’s “The Psychology of Revolution” Link: Virginia Tech: Gustave Le Bon’s “The Psychology of Revolution” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this text.  The author of this text, Gustave Le
Bon, was a renowned French social psychologist who specialized in
the study of the psychology of crowd dynamics.  This text is of
great importance for the understanding of the social causes,
development, and consequences of revolutions.  Although, some of his
theories are outdated, pay special attention to his description of
the role played by national traits in revolutions.  Remember that Le
Bon wrote this text in 1913, just one year before the outbreak of
WWI, a war which spawned European nationalisms.    

 Reading this text should take approximately 4 hours.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Virginia Tech: Karl Kautsky’s “Evolution and Revolution” Link: Virginia Tech: Karl Kautsky’s “Evolution and Revolution” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this text. The author of this document, Karl Kautsky, was a famous 20th century German Marxist.  In this text, Kautsky theorizes about the concept and legitimacy of social revolutions and upheavals.  Pay special attention to how he describes the French Revolution as a legitimate social revolution in comparison with the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, which he did not believe to be a legitimate and historic social upheaval.
     
    Reading this text should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.1.2 The Enlightenment   - Reading: Washington State University: Professor Paul Brian’s “The Enlightenment” Link: Washington State University: Professor Paul Brian’s “The Enlightenment” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text, paying special attention to the role of reason as an agent of social reform.
 
Reading this text should take approximately 1 hour.
 
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  • Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Immanuel Kant’s “What Is Enlightenment?” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Immanuel Kant’s “What Is Enlightenment?” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this essay.  In this famous essay, Kant re-defines the role of metaphysics by stating that reason is the path to understanding the natural world; in other words, for Kant moral law can be derived from reason.  Remember, for Kant only humans can have rationality and morality.

    As you read, consider the following study questions: How does Kant describe rationality? How does Kant describe morality?
     
    Reading this essay and answering the questions above should take approximately 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: The article above is in the public domain.

1.1.3 The Social Contract   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Jean Jacques Rousseau’s “The Social Contract, 1763” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Jean Jacques Rousseau’s “The Social Contract, 1763” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text.  In his philosophic masterpiece, Of the Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right, Jean Jacques Rousseau theorizes about the foundations of society.  Pay particular attention to his definition of property.  Remember that this book had immense historical influence, particularly in the writing of modern constitutions, including the United States Constitution.
 
Reading this text should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
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1.1.4 Absolute Monarchy and the Divine Right of Kings   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Jean Domat’s “On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Jean Domat’s “On Social Order and Absolute Monarchy” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text.  ” In this text, French scholar, Jean Domat, stresses the idea of absolutism as the basis of social order. 
As you read, consider the following study question: According to Domat, can social equality exist? Why, or why not?
 
Reading this text and answering the questions above should take approximately 30 minutes.
 
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  • Lecture: YouTube: Yale University: Professor John Merriman’s European Civilization, 1648–1945: “Lecture 2: Absolutism and the State” Link: YouTube: Yale University: Professor John Merriman’s European Civilization, 1648–1945: “Lecture 2: Absolutism and the State” (YouTube)
     
    Also available in:
    HTML, MP3, Adobe Flash and Quicktime
     
    Instructions: Please watch this lecture. In this session, Professor Merriman explores the roots and characteristics of absolutism.

    As you watch the lecture, consider the following study question: Was royal absolutism compatible with the Enlightenment?
     
    Watching this lecture, pausing to take notes, and answering the question above should take approximately 2 hours.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: University of Hanover: Jacques Benigne Bossuet’s “Political Treatise” Link: University of Hanover: Jacques Benigne Bossuet’s “Political Treatise” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read this text.  As you can see, Bossuet was a great supporter of political absolutism as the basis of social order.
     
    As you read, consider the following study question: How do Bossuet’s theories of government and social order differentiate from those of Jean Domat?
     
    Reading this text and answering the question above should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
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1.1.5 World Trade and Its Discontents   - Reading: Virginia Tech: Karl Kautsky’s “The Social Revolution” Link: Virginia Tech: Karl Kautsky’s “The Social Revolution” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this text.  In this document, Karl Kautsky, a
Marxist, theorizes about the concept and legitimacy of social
revolutions and upheavals.  Pay special attention to his description
of the differences between *revolution* and *reform*.  

 Reading this text should take approximately 1 hour.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 Revolutionary Ideas   1.2.1 Monarchy   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: John Evelyn’s “On Restoration and Revolution” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Modern History Sourcebook: John Evelyn’s “On Restoration and Revolution” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this text.  These excerpts from Evelyn’s diary
document his experiences and views of some of the most important
events of the Revolution of 1688 and 1689, the Glorious Revolution,
which led to the deposition of James II as king.  
    
 Reading this text should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.2 Aristocracy   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Customs of Louis XIV” and “The Courtiers” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Customs of Louis XIV” (PDF) and “The Courtiers” (PDF)
           
Instructions: Read these texts.  Pay special attention to his centralization policy.

 As you read, consider the following study question: How did Louis
XIV manage to have such a long reign?  
    
 Reading these texts and answering the question above should take
approximately 30 minutes.

1.2.3 Democracy   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Democracy in the Age of Revolutions” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Democracy in the Age of Revolutions” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read this text.  This reading offers an in-depth review of the historical considerations that are indispensable for the understanding of the concept of democracy in the long 19th century.
 
Reading this text should take approximately 30 minutes.

1.2.4 Slavery   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “European and Colonial Resistance” (PDF) and “The Abolition of the Slave Trade” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “European and Colonial Resistance” (PDF) and “The Abolition of the Slave Trade” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Read these texts.  These texts provide a well-balance account of the geographic dimensions of the eventual abolition of the slave trade.  Remember that some scholars, including Professor Jenny S. Martinez from Stanford Law School, believe that abolitionism – the movement to ban the international slave trade – is at the root of the creation of human rights law. 

 Reading these texts should take approximately 45 minutes.

1.2.5 Jews and the Emancipation   - Reading: The Museum of Family History’s “Jewish Emancipation” Link: The Museum of Family History’s “Jewish Emancipation” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text.  This text offers a review of the political-economic dimensions of the Jewish emancipation.

 Reading this text should take approximately 15 minutes.  
    
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1.2.6 Equality   - Reading: Anne Robert Jacques Turgot’s *Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth* Link: Anne Robert Jacques Turgot’s Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Wealth (HTML)

 Instructions: Read this essay.  In this essay, Turgot describes the
development of society from its beginning to modern commercial
society. Pay special attention to his thoughts on *state control*.  

 As you read, consider the following study questions: Why is Turgot
described as “an early advocate for economic liberalism”?  How would
you summarize Turgot’s position on state control?  

 Reading this essay and answering the questions above should take
approximately 3.5 hours.  
    
 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

Unit 1 Assessment   - Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 1 Assessment”

Link: The Saylor Foundation’s [“Unit 1
Assessment”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HIST303-OC-Unit-1.Assessment.FINAL_.pdf)
(PDF)  

 Instructions: Please complete the assessment. You can check your
work against The Saylor Foundation’s [“Unit 1 Answer
Key”](https://resources.saylor.org/wwwresources/archived/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HIST303-OC-Unit-1-Answer-Key.FINAL_.pdf)
(PDF).  

 Completing this assessment should take no more than 30 minutes.