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French And American Revolution

            During the late 1700's, two great revolutions occurred, the American Revolution and the French Revolution. These two historical events happened at the same time, but had a great number of differences and very little similarity. When French Revolution occurred, it turned into a very violent and bloody event, while the American Revolution was almost nonviolent, aside from the war. In 1774, King Louis XVI made a decision that could have prevented the French Revolution by breathing new life into the French economy: he appointed Physiocrat Robert Turgot as Controller General of Finance. The Physiocrats were a small band of followers of the French physician Francois Quesnay, whose economic prescriptions included reduced taxes, less regulation, the elimination of government-granted monopolies and internal tolls and tariffs, ideas that found their rallying cry in the famous slogan, laissez-faire, laissez-passer." The Physiocrats exerted a profound influence on Adam Smith, who had spent time in France in the 1760s and whose classic "The Wealth of Nations" embodied the Physiocratic attack on mercantilism and argued that nations get rich by practicing free trade. Of Smith, Turgot, and the Physiocrats, the great French political leader and author Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) wrote: The basis of their whole economic system may be truly said to lie in the principle of self-interest. . . The only function of government according to this doctrine is to protect life, liberty, and property." Embracing the principle of free trade not just as a temporary expedient, but as a philosophy, Turgot got the king to sign an edict in January 1776 that abolished the monopolies and special privileges of the guilds, corporations, and trading companies. He then dedicated himself to breaking down the internal tariffs within France. By limiting government expense, he was able to cut the budget by 60 million livres and reduce the interest on the national debt from 8.

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