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Last updated: 12/14/09 at 03:48 PM
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The British army, which was led by the Duke of Wellington prepared for a battle in the village of Waterloo in Belgium. This battle was prepared because the European allies of Napoleon wanted to fight back when Napoleon once again became the emperor of France. On June 18, 1815, Napolean attacked back. Later that day, the Prussian army arrived and combined with the British forces and together attacked the French. A couple days later, Napolean and his tired troops gave away and the Bristish and Prussian forces chased them off the field.
Padre Hidalgo was a priest from the small village of Dolores. He took the first step toward independence. He was a believer enlightenment ideals. On September 16, 1810, he went to his village church and rang the bells. When peasants got together in the church, he announced to call a rebellion against the Spanish. Now, the call is known as the grito de Dolores or the cry of Dolores. The day after, Hidalgo's Indian and mestizo followers started to march to Mexico City. The uprising of the lower class alarmed the Spanish, who feared the loss of their property, control of land, and their lives. Later, the army defeated Hidalgo.
After he gained support from the people of France and Pope Pius VII of the Catholic Church, Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France. He began to conquer vast areas of Europe after losing American territories to former slaves. These European lands included Spain, Poland, and German kingdoms. Russia, Prussia, and Austria were tied to the empire by alliances. The only battle lost during that time was against the British, the Battle of Trafalgar. Britain did not fall under Napoleon's rule as a result of this. The French Empire became huge but unstable and Napoleon was able to maintain it at its greatest extent for five years.
Saint Domingue, a French colony that is now known as Haiti is a sugar-producing colony on the island of Hispaniola. Napoleon knew that the key to his western empire was this colony. When the ideas of Revolution reached Saint Domingue, they demanded that the National Assembly give them the same privilages as the people of France. Later on, enslaved Africans in that colony demanded for their rights as well. This started a civil war and the enslaved Africans, who were under the control of Toussaint L'Ouverture, seized control of the colony. Napolean then decided to take back the colony and restore its sugar industry. But, the French forces were devastated by disease, and the rebels proved to be bold fighters.
In 1796, the Directory, a form of government which called for a two house legislature and an executive body, appointed Napoleon as general of the French army against the Austrians and Sardinians. He won a series of remarkable victories, but lost in Egypt. Luckily, he managed to keep all stories of that loss out of the newspapers, thus remaining a great French hero. In 1799, the Directory lost control of the political situation and support of the French people. Napoleon saw this as the perfect opportunity to take over all power in government. Napoleons troops surrounded the French legislature and drove out many of the members. Then he decided to establish three consuls, one of which was Napoleon himself. This was known as a coup from the french phrase "coup d'etat" or "blow to the state."
The American revolution inspired the French people who sought reform in their own country. The French saw the new government in the United States, with fulfillment of Enlightment ideas, and wished for a similar government in France. Rousseau led the French revolution along with other inspired men. Together, they overthrew their monarchy in 1789.
After over 200 years of America, just being a British colony, the people of these nations decided it was time for them to declare independence. But, many Americans were still loyalists to Britain. Beginning in 1763, Britain began to send new taxes to the colinies, forcing the people to pay for sugar, stamps, paper, glass, and tea. The American Revolutionists then gained more supporters. This upset the people and they felt as though these taxes were unfair and unjust. As a result, a war broke out between America and Britain. Much blood was shed in this war. Even though George Washington and his army lost most of the battles, it was costing Britain too much money to send so many troops to America. America's troops did not give up. British troops surrendered, and on July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was ratified, and America declared its independence.
Montesquieu's idea of seperation of powers became a big part of his most famous book, "On the Spirit of Laws." In his book, Montesquieu suggests that the separation of powers would keep an person or group from having total control of the government. An idea put into this book would later become known as checks and balances. The book was admired by political leaders in British colonies in North America. His ideas about separation of powers and checks and balances became a huge part in the United States Constistution.