Created by dipity on Dec 4, 2009
Last updated: 10/24/10 at 10:46 AM
The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 proved to be the fall of Napoleon. After returning from the lonely island of Elba, Napoleon was desperate for his power. And because the king at the time, Louis XVIII became unpopular very fast, it was easy for Napoleon to regain his status of emperor of France. Duke Wellington's British army prepared for attack from Napoleon's army near a town called Waterloo, Belgium. In 1815, Napoleon attacked. However, the Prussians, hoping to also defeat Napoleon, fought alongside the British. Napoleon's troops, burnt out after two days, were driven from the field. Napoleon was shipped to an even more lonesome island called Saint Helena, where he died after six years.
Padre Miguel Hidalgo, a poor priest from a village called Dolores, was the first person to formally call for Mexican independence. Hidalgo was inspired by the Enlightenment ideas. His call for independence is known as the "grito de Dolores," or the cry of Dolores. In 1810, Hidalgo rang the church bells calling peasants in to listen to his ideas. He proposed a rebellion against the Spanish government. After gaining an army of Indians and Mestizos that reached about 80,000, Padre Hidalgo was defeated by the Spanish in 1811. However, this rebellion sparked many more to come in later years, and ultimately led to Mexican independence.
After gaining support from Pope Pius VII of the Catholic Church and the people of France, Napoleon declared himself emperor of France. Afterwards, Napoleon began conquering 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 the Battle of Trafalgar against the British. As a result, Britain did not fall under Napoleon's rule. The French Empire became huge and would remain that way for five years.
Haiti, formerly known as Saint Domingue, was the first Latin American colony to escape European rule. The enslaved people of Haiti were treated so cruelly by their European masters. As a result, during the French Revolution, the Haitians decided to rise up against the white masters. Their leader was a man by the name of Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave. L'Ouverture managed to free all the slaves on the island by gaining control of it. When French troops arrived in Haiti they were greatly outnumbered by the former slaves. But they finally seized L'Ouverture and imprisoned him. Toussaint's right hand man, Jean-Jacques Dessalines took over for him. And in 1804, Dessalines declared Saint Domingue an independent territory and renamed it Haiti, or "mountainous land."
The Directory, a form of government which called for a two house legislature and an executive body, appointed Napoleon general of the French army against the Austrians and Sardinians. He emerged victorious in so many battles, but lost in Egypt. Fortunately for Napoleon, he managed to keep all stories of that loss away from the public and media. In 1799, the Directory lost support of their French people. Napoleon saw this as the perfect opportunity to take over all power in government. His troops surrounded the French legislature and drove out most members. Napoleon then decided to establish three consuls, one which was Napoleon himself. This was known as a "coup d'etat" or blow to the state.
Many factors contributed to the French Revolution of 1789. First, there was a cast system which consisted of three estates. The first estate was the Catholic Church. The next estate were the rich nobles. And the third esate, were the general public or lower class. Most of the people of France made up the third estate. People in the third estate had no power in government, and they were upset with this. The second reason for the revolution was the Enlightenment. Many new ideas about power in government were erupting through the people of the third estate as they were unhappy with the existing government. Next, France went through economic troubles which hurt people of the third estate like farmers and merchants. Also, the king of France, Louis XVI, was an uncaring ruler, who payed little attention to his people, and instead enjoyed making clocks. So, the people of the third estate decided to create their own constitution. They gained some support from nobles, but that was not enough. Rebellions began to break out against the second estate and the king. Louis XVI attempted to escape with his wife and children, but they were captured. This event proved that a revolution had indeed been created.
After more than 200 years of America (the United States) being a British colony, the people of this nation decided it was time to declare independence. However, most Americans were still loyalists to Britain. Starting in 1763, Britain began to send new taxes to the United States forcing the people to pay for sugar, stamps, paper, glass, and tea. The American Revolutionists then gained more supporters. The people became angry and felt as though these taxes were unfair and unjust. As a result, a war broke out between America and Britain. Much blood was shed, and although George Washington and his army lost most battles, it was costing Britain too much money to send more and more troops to America. United States' troops did not give up. British troops surrendered. On July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence, primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, was ratified.
Baron de Montesquieu, a French writer, thought that the best governed nation at the time was Britain. This, he explained, was because there was separation of powers. The king and ministers consisted of the executive branch. Parliament was the legislative branch. And judges in British courts held judicial power. In 1748, Montesquieu published his book, "On the Spirit of Laws" which suggested that separation of power in the French government would result in France becoming stronger. This was an inspiring idea which led to the basic idea of the United States Constitution.