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Old 12-03-2015, 02:16 PM
 
Location: MN
164 posts, read 294,059 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
I am aware of the timeline of his death. He was part of the same radical faction that led the reign of terror, which indeed reached it's apex after his death. His rhetoric was extremely violent - He himself endorsed mass executions as part of the revolution ("five or six hundred heads cut-off would ensure peace..." is a direct quote from one of his papers).
The exact quote is "Five or six hundred heads cut off would have assured your repose, freedom and happiness. A false humanity has held your arms and suspended your blows; because of this millions of your brothers will lose their lives," written in 1790. I don't know what the exact context of it is, but the internal notion of the quote is not unsound.

Quote:
The French King was already guillotined, the "September massacre" had occurred the previous year (for which he can at least be partly blamed for), the opposing factions were already in jail facing trial, the French were in the midst of war with the rest of Europe. .
Are you saying that these were the conditions of the Terror or that the Terror already existed because Marat and the Montagnards instigated these events?

In the first case, the first and last examples were the justification for the necessity of the Terror.

In the latter case, I would contest. Louis XVI was a traitor and even to this day treason gets the death penalty in many countries; he did nothing but try to sabotage the revolution from day one and was willing to destroy the country to do it. Concerning the wars, it was not the Montagnards that wanted the wars; they opposed them because they thought it would weaken the country. But once the wars were upon them they would do what was necessary for the survival of their revolution & republic instead of having a bloodbath when the foreign nations would restore the Bourbon House or take France apart piecemeal.

Quote:
I submit that it wasn't his assassination that led to the Reign of Terror, rather, it was his ideals, his, to repeat the concept of this thread - VISION.
His vision was the popular demands for the revolution and whatever is necessary for its protection. During the Terror people died, some innocent no doubt. But it was also this point in which the Law of Maximum was enacted and slavery in France and its possessions was abolished. France escaped monarchial restoration for another 20 years or so and was not partitioned in any major way. And his "ideals" were not even unique, e.g. Thomas Jefferson wrote in January 1793:

"In the struggle which was necessary, many guilty persons fell without the forms of trial, and with them some innocent. These I deplore as much as any body, and shall deplore some of them to the day of my death. But I deplore them as I should have done had they fallen in battle. It was necessary to use the arm of the people, a machine not quite so blind as balls and bombs, but blind to a certain degree. A few of their cordial friends met at their hands the fate of enemies. But time and truth will rescue and embalm their memories, while their posterity will be enjoying that very liberty for which they would never have hesitated to offer up their lives. The liberty of the whole earth was depending on the issue of the contest, and was ever such a prize won with so little innocent blood? My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause, but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated. Were there but an Adam and an Eve left in every country, and left free, it would be better than as it now is. I have expressed to you my sentiments, because they are really those of 99 in an hundred of our citizens. The universal feasts, and rejoicings which have lately been had on account of the successes of the French shewed the genuine effusions of their hearts."

If Marat's vision led to the Terror, then so did Jefferson and a great many others.
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Old 12-03-2015, 03:12 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcgr View Post
....If Marat's vision led to the Terror, then so did Jefferson and a great many others.
You know, there has been much debate amongst historians about what exactly caused this "Reign of Terror", what went wrong with a revolution that was modeled somewhat on the ideals brought upon with the American Revolution? There is still no consensus. But the French Revolution was always found in terror and blood - the revolutionists were cutting off heads and putting them on pikes years before 1793, and Marat, who I think was a newspaper publisher at the time, was fully endorsing it.

Not that the American Revolution was peaceful of course, but for the most part it was warrior (continental army and militia) against warrior (British forces and their own militia). It was also a political and economic battle, while the French were fighting more of a war for social equality - against aristocrats, against the church. It was also a mess politically once the King was disposed - a stable American government was created rather quickly and orderly and without drama, amazing really given the states vs. federal rights issues. In France, basically, the Paris Mob ruled, and they were out for blood.

So in France, particularly with this battle between the factions (Jacobins vs Girondins), the danger still existing from Royalists, and the advancing European armies created an atmosphere of paranoia that gave in to extremest - Marat, Robespierre, and Danton. Whatever the noble thoughts of the revolution was replaced by this paronoia and the need to replace justice and the rule of law with state supported terror, with power in the hands of these three. Marat was always like this - read more of his writings (dating back to the late 1780s) and it seems to all be the same, with one issue at hand - the rights of the poor...and one solution - massacre and terror. I don't see Jefferson promoting this. Jefferson's writing indicated that he supported the French Revolution at first, until it turned violent, then he deplored it.

Nevertheless they all died violent deaths - Danton, who himself began to question the violence - guillotined, Robespiere - guillotined. I assume if not murdered Marat would have had the same fate. And France itself would be embroiled with two decades more of war and a virtual police state under a dictator before, once again, going back to the monarchy. So much for the French Revolution.

Sorry I was so long winded....wanted to add more about the king but my post was long enough.
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:15 PM
 
9,982 posts, read 7,251,556 times
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Dd714, good post.
When I was in college, being young of course, like around 20
with a History major, French Revolution was a course I really
enjoyed. I read books from both viewpoints, the classic pros
and cons. If someone wants a short book list on what we
read, I'll provide it.
Long story short, when it comes to the FR and Napoleon,
earlier (high school, college) fascination of what happened,
including rooting for Napoleon (I'll admit it) - has turned into
horror and disapproval.
My assessment now of both is very poor indeed.
It would have been better for the French and all Europe if neither ever happened, but they did.
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:58 PM
 
Location: Southeast Michigan
2,852 posts, read 1,848,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball7 View Post
Dd714, good post.
When I was in college, being young of course, like around 20
with a History major, French Revolution was a course I really
enjoyed. I read books from both viewpoints, the classic pros
and cons. If someone wants a short book list on what we
read, I'll provide it.
Long story short, when it comes to the FR and Napoleon,
earlier (high school, college) fascination of what happened,
including rooting for Napoleon (I'll admit it) - has turned into
horror and disapproval.
My assessment now of both is very poor indeed.
It would have been better for the French and all Europe if neither ever happened, but they did.
Yes, pretty much. If the revolutionaries did not behave like packs of rabid dogs hungry for blood, Napoleon would not emerge. The people of France got terrified and were looking for a savior to bring stability and order. The French Revolution first paved the way for the megalomaniac Napoleon, who created one of the biggest humanitarian disasters in the history of Europe to date, then after his subsequent defeat it turned most of the Continental monarchies extremely reactionary (while some of them were actually flirting with some constitutional ideas before FR).
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Old 12-03-2015, 05:32 PM
 
Location: Jamestown, NY
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Unfortunately, the French Revolution followed pretty much the general course of most social revolutions since: ideals quickly degenerate into factionalism, violence, and then power coalesces into the hands of a single individual or a cabal. The Mexican, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions all followed this pattern.

I think that the American Revolution didn't because it wasn't a social revolution but a political one. The American Founding Fathers didn't reject the British social order but they did reject not having a "piece of the action" in governing. The US could have wound up a monarchy, of course, except that Washington declined. He declined to be dictator as well. He also kept control of the factionalism that developed early on in his administration under the Constitution, and his voluntary exit from power that allowed for the peaceful transition to the next administration was another lasting gift "the father of our country" gave to this nation. Sometimes, it really easy to dismiss how very important Washington was in guiding the fledgling US by his own example.

There were social changes resulting from the Revolution, too. The defacto aristocracy of British governors and military officers were sent packing. The ranks of the American upper crust were depleted by the departure of many wealthy and well-connected Tories. Many among the remaining American upper class had diminished fortunes because of their losses during the war. At the same time, some less prosperous men gained distinction and connections during the war that moved them up in class, most notably, Alexander Hamilton. There were still property qualifications for voting and office-holding but they were starting to be eroded in the states, especially the newly minted "western states" like Kentucky and Tennessee, and that would eventually lead to what's referred to as "Jacksonian Democracy" in the 1820s.
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Old 12-04-2015, 01:13 PM
 
Location: MN
164 posts, read 294,059 times
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Quote:
You know, there has been much debate amongst historians about what exactly caused this "Reign of Terror", what went wrong with a revolution that was modeled somewhat on the ideals brought upon with the American Revolution?
It is not easy to compare the French and American Revolutions. The Americans had a relatively easy time. They had little feudal baggage. Britain was far away across the ocean and they received a lot of foreign support from France and Spain. Also I'm not even sure the British were all that interested in fighting, it did not pose any existential threat to Britain, it was just a colonial revolt, in the end it was just more trouble than it was worth. France had to face almost all of western Europe on their doorstep, no allies, and all the feudal, noble, and clerical baggage. I think if the American Revolution had to face what the French did they would have turned to more desperate measures or be crushed. However, America also didn't have the sizable cities the French had, which makes for another large difference.
Quote:
a stable American government was created rather quickly and orderly and without drama, amazing really given the states vs. federal rights issues.
Are you serious?
Quote:
So in France, particularly with this battle between the factions (Jacobins vs Girondins), the danger still existing from Royalists, and the advancing European armies created an atmosphere of paranoia that gave in to extremest
Are those conditions paranoia or the reality which they faced? I believe there is a proverb "desperate times call for desperate measures", this was not unique to the French. I mean, the revolutionary leaders were getting assassinated, the Royalists and Girondins plunged the country into a disastrous war; the Montagnards faced a very real threat. Only when the threats subsided - the rebellions and invading armies crushed and Girondins dispersed - did the Robespierrists try to quell their Parisian and conservative support (or potential threat), which did indeed cost them their lives (they of course were killed without trials, most were beaten by dandied streetgangs "The White Terror") as there was no major revolutionary groups to support them.
Quote:
I don't see Jefferson promoting this. Jefferson's writing indicated that he supported the French Revolution at first, until it turned violent, then he deplored it.
Do you have any proof? Even in May 1794, at the height of the Terror, Jefferson wrote in a letter:

"Your letters give a comfortable view of French affairs, and later events seem to confirm it. Over the foreign powers I am convinced they will triumph completely, and I cannot but hope that that triumph and the consequent disgrace of the invading tyrants is destined in the order of events to kindle the wrath of the people of Europe against those who have dared to embroil them in such wickedness, and to bring at length kings, nobles and priests to the scaffolds which they have been so long deluging with human blood. I am still warm whenever I think of these scoundrels, tho’ I do it as seldom as I can, preferring infinitely to contemplate the tranquil growth of my Lucerne and potatoes."

Also is not one of Jefferson's most famous sayings:
"...what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it's natural manure."?

However my point was not that Jefferson support the revolution, but merely that the foundation of the Terror existed in in many others; that the Montagnards were not necessarily bloodthirsty, they just recognized what is necessary for the survival of their revolution.

Also I thought you said "But the French Revolution was always found in terror and blood - the revolutionists were cutting off heads and putting them on pikes years before 1793..." but now it only became violent after a while?

Quote:
And France itself would be embroiled with two decades more of war and a virtual police state under a dictator before, once again, going back to the monarchy. So much for the French Revolution.
What flag does France now fly, what is its national anthem and motto? I would counter that the revolution obliterated feudalism in France, and even in western Europe by extension of Napoleon. It was so obliterated in France that the first Bourbon Restoration only occurred after those twenty years and the complete exhaustion of France, and it was such a farce that it dissolved just by Napoleon stepping back onto French dirt. The second was only maintained by an enormous foreign occupation force. That was what it took to force the Bourbons back onto France and suppress any anti-feudal ideas, but even then the clock of history could never have turned back to the Ancient Regime.

Quote:
It would have been better for the French and all Europe if neither ever happened, but they did.
And what life was great for the masses of people under the Bourbons? I give one little example of improvement. Napoleon himself. Would anyone but one single male who lucked out on being born in the right order to a particular father have any chance of leading the nation? I do not proclaim Napoleon any hero (he brought slavery back to Haiti for example), but he did eradicate so much of the feudal dues and laws in the places he conquered since he leaned on the republicans so much. But I guess everything would be better if the French peasants and capitalists just bent over and taken it.
Quote:
while some of them were actually flirting with some constitutional ideas before FR
Which ones? If anything let us demonstrate the French example, the early revolutionary governments of France were constitutional monarchies, but Louis XVI tried to sabotage them so much with intrigues and inciting wars that the assembly finally had to get rid of him.
Quote:
I think that the American Revolution didn't because it wasn't a social revolution but a political one.
The American farmers and merchants were at war with the old English ruling powers. It may not seem social because the American colonies had about no aristocracy to speak of, the dominant classes were freeholders and merchants guided by the plantation owners. The social stratification of Britain was entirely different.
Quote:
The American Founding Fathers didn't reject the British social order
The "Founding Fathers" were not unanimous in much but let us look at the first two sentences in the preamble of Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

Does that sound reconcilable with the British political structure?

Quote:
When I was in college, being young of course, like around 20
with a History major, French Revolution was a course I really
enjoyed. I read books from both viewpoints, the classic pros
and cons. If someone wants a short book list on what we
read, I'll provide it.
Long story short, when it comes to the FR and Napoleon,
earlier (high school, college) fascination of what happened,
including rooting for Napoleon (I'll admit it) - has turned into
horror and disapproval.
This excerpt has dwelt on me. I thought about it because I recognize myself, but the exact opposite. When I was a little bit younger I felt that the French Revolution was a pointless, violent, and tragic episode and all ultimately ends with Napoleon. Then I started always reading little hints of a richer history of that epoch. Now I more fully understand its context, both from knowing its history a bit better and realizing the world I live in now. In my high school history class we had to justify the American nuclear bombing of Japan. I could not at the time. But now I realize, if our country justifies indiscriminate killings of hundreds of thousands of people so that a country surrenders to the right country, why can't the French Revolution be justified when a few tens of thousands of people were discriminately killed to defend new found liberty (universal male suffrage, abolition of feudalism), even with the eventual coming of Napoleon? Why are the dynastic wars of the 18th century between little snobs rarely condemned, but often glorified, yet Satan rules hell on earth when one or two of them are killed? Napoleon's reign was not inevitable, but even with him and Robespierre turning on his copartisans, I could not deny that the revolution ended up having a profound positive effect on world history. One has to accept that Jefferson was a slave-owning abolitionist just as I now acknowledge that this is not a perfect world and new eras have birth pangs and sometimes violence accompanies progress; not everything in history ends precisely where you want it, and you have to live with that sometimes.

Last edited by bcgr; 12-04-2015 at 02:22 PM..
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Old 12-05-2015, 04:26 PM
 
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bcgr:

You covered too much to directly quote, but I am trying to grasp your point - are you defending The French Revolution, and The Reign of Terror that resulted in the death of some 40,000 French citizens, or the Napoleonic period and subsequent two decades of near constant war that resulted in the death of some 5 million soldiers and civilians worldwide?

I still submit that the ideals of the French Revolution were just, but it soon warped and perverted into something that was unrecognizable and contradictory to the principles of the American Revolution - mob rule and tyranny. There is NOTHING good that came out of it. Nothing. Sometimes evolution, not revolution is called for...The French could have adapted a constitutional monarchy similar to England, actually they did for all intents and purposes by 1791. But, once again, blood was the order of the day, the mob called for it, the tyrants responded to it - thus the King and Queen must be executed. Marat and Robesepierre were madmen, tyrants...18th century Pol Pot's and Stalin's and Idi Amin's.

As for Jefferson - yes indeed Jefferson and the founding fathers were well aware that the people needed to take up arms against it's oppressors. But not even Jefferson would have endorsed setting up a Guillotine in Philidelphia square and marching hundreds of American citizens up to it each and every day without trial to be decapitated. As for his thoughts on the French Revolution, it is well detailed in this link from papers, etc, at the time:

http://classroom.monticello.org/imag...eadingSetB.pdf

Indeed it shows that Jefferson changed from first embracing the revolution, to being somewhat reserved at the amount of bloodletting, to finally, in 1775 after the excesses of the Reign of Terror, writing that "What a tremendous obstacle to the future attempts at liberty will be the atrocities of Robespierre!" And after that...silence, and American was on a de-facto war with France by the end of the century.
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Old 12-05-2015, 05:28 PM
 
Location: Southeast Michigan
2,852 posts, read 1,848,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda_d View Post
Unfortunately, the French Revolution followed pretty much the general course of most social revolutions since: ideals quickly degenerate into factionalism, violence, and then power coalesces into the hands of a single individual or a cabal. The Mexican, Russian, and Chinese Revolutions all followed this pattern.

I think that the American Revolution didn't because it wasn't a social revolution but a political one. The American Founding Fathers didn't reject the British social order but they did reject not having a "piece of the action" in governing. The US could have wound up a monarchy, of course, except that Washington declined. He declined to be dictator as well. He also kept control of the factionalism that developed early on in his administration under the Constitution, and his voluntary exit from power that allowed for the peaceful transition to the next administration was another lasting gift "the father of our country" gave to this nation. Sometimes, it really easy to dismiss how very important Washington was in guiding the fledgling US by his own example.

There were social changes resulting from the Revolution, too. The defacto aristocracy of British governors and military officers were sent packing. The ranks of the American upper crust were depleted by the departure of many wealthy and well-connected Tories. Many among the remaining American upper class had diminished fortunes because of their losses during the war. At the same time, some less prosperous men gained distinction and connections during the war that moved them up in class, most notably, Alexander Hamilton. There were still property qualifications for voting and office-holding but they were starting to be eroded in the states, especially the newly minted "western states" like Kentucky and Tennessee, and that would eventually lead to what's referred to as "Jacksonian Democracy" in the 1820s.
While you're right to some extent, the American Revolution was not much different from a French Revolution or Russian revolution - an existing Monarchic regime forcefully overthrown and replaced by an "extreme" (for it's time) Republican order. Yet it was remarkably peaceful and not bloody (outside of armed fighting).
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Old 12-06-2015, 04:00 PM
 
9,982 posts, read 7,251,556 times
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what is more important - the people or the perceived progress ?
to take a reductionist, utilitarian, nihilistic view of historical
events is a very cold, cruel, detached exercise; but for those
involved, it was anything but.
positive progressions and developments would still occur in the timeline,
they don't stop. are judeo-masonic revolutions to be assessed responsible
for all that is good ? if it is to be held as such, then one must support the
ongoing movement... straight to a one world government where individual
liberty has no real place, and no real power to affect change.
i can't help but feel like dusting off my old "Animal Farm" dvd.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:27 AM
 
Location: MN
164 posts, read 294,059 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dd714 View Post
bcgr:
You covered too much to directly quote, but I am trying to grasp your point - are you defending The French Revolution, and The Reign of Terror that resulted in the death of some 40,000 French citizens, or the Napoleonic period and subsequent two decades of near constant war that resulted in the death of some 5 million soldiers and civilians worldwide?
To the first, yes, though I am not uncritical of parts, I will not condemn the mass of it. But the second is more of an environment than anything defendable. So is there anything of it you wish me to defend?
Quote:
There is NOTHING good that came out of it. Nothing.
I do enjoy how at the one hand you condemn the Montagnards as extremists and then say things like this. Is that not an extreme position?
Quote:
Sometimes evolution, not revolution is called for...The French could have adapted a constitutional monarchy similar to England, actually they did for all intents and purposes by 1791.
Firstly, one could argue that revolution is evolution. Secondly, your English example does not justify that revolution is not required, but just the opposite. How do you think their modern monarchy came about? Their monarchs did not just decide one day that they need to live within some set of laws or whatever. They struggled. Have you ever heard of the English Civil War? I admit I am not too familiar with it, but the Parliamentarians did chop off Charles I's head and declared a Commonwealth. Was that not revolutionary? The monarchy came back, weakened, some years later; that was the main event of how the English monarchy became "constitutional." Even then there was no easy peace in England. Thirdly, they deposed and executed Louis because he could not live with a "constitutional" monarchy, he and his scoundrels constantly tried to sabotage the governments in France to restore his prior position. Lastly, then could you not say the American Revolution was uncalled for, after all Canada and Australia became peaceably semi-independent from Britain? Yet you do not condemn that.
Quote:
But not even Jefferson would have endorsed setting up a Guillotine in Philidelphia square and marching hundreds of American citizens up to it each and every day without trial to be decapitated.
Do you really think that is what the Terror was? The guillotine became the method of execution of the tribunals because it was considered the most humane way to kill someone, instead of all those medieval tortures and hangings. The tribunals were set up to try to discriminate threats to the republic and those not. Were they fair trials? No, and I will admit some innocents died and will grant individual mistakes. However, could the tribunals endure tens of thousands of cases drawn out for years or such? No, their republic faced an emergency and this was about the best possible solution to protect it from the counterrevolutionaries. Some of the rebellions were quelled with plenty of violence, but what mercy were the republicans ever shown? The Brunswick Manifesto (before the republic even) warned that the Austrian and Prussian Armies would completely demolish Paris if they even touched Louis or his family, and that if anyone interfered with their march on Paris they would be punished and have their property burned, National Guardsmen with arms would be treated as rebels (probably meant a hanging). The Vendeeans started their rebellion by torturing and shooting any republicans they could get their hands on. The Americans had their own acts of terror in the American Revolution too, they just get whitewashed out of the books or justified. Anyways I will reiterate my point from before, that Jefferson's views would have given a justification of the Terror; he quite clearly says essentially that violence is required to maintain liberty, yet he may have taken a dim view of Robespierre. His sentence you mention to me reads more that he does embrace the revolution, but marks Robespierre's role negatively, and ultimately counterproductive. It is actually a view I hold of him after the Robespierrists suppressed the Hebertists & Communards and introduced the 22 Prairial Law, but I will defend the whole of the Terror despite this and applaud Robespierre up to that point; I believe their actions were the correct course. But condemning Robespierre to some bloodthirsty maniac I do not believe is the correct analysis.
Quote:
Yet it was remarkably peaceful and not bloody (outside of armed fighting).
So as long as no weapons were involved it was peaceful? Isn't every event relatively peaceful then, outside of people dying? The American patriots were sometimes just as brutal in their revolution as the French were in theirs.
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