Enlightenment and Revolutions

  • Montesquieu publishes book, On the Spirit of Laws

    In this book, Montesquie proposed that separation of powers would keep any individual or group from gainning total control of the government. His book was admired by political leaders in the British colonies of North America.
  • America Declares Independence

    On this date, the Second Continental Congress issued the Declaration of Independence. This document, written by Thomas Jefferson, was firmly based on the ideas of John Locke and the Enlightenment. The Declaration of Independence reflected these ideas in its eloquent argument for natural rights.
  • French Revolution

    The French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. During this period, French citizens razed and redesigned their country’s political landscape, uprooting centuries-old institutions such as absolute monarchy and the feudal system.
  • Napoleon Overthrows the Directory through a Coup D’etat

    By 1799, the Directory had lost control of the political situation and the confidence of the French people. When Napoleon returned from Egypt, his friends urded him to seize political power. The troops under his command surrounded the national legislature and drove out most of its members and the ones that remained voted to dissolve the legislature. Napoleon took the title of first consul and assumed powers of a dictator.
  • Napoleon Crowns himself Emperor, Begins to Create a Vast European Empire

  • Haiti Wins Freedom from France

    On the eve of the French Revolution in 1789, the West Indian island of Haiti was divided into two parts a French and a Spanish part. Tens of thousands of African slaves had been forced to immigrate to Haiti to work on the sugar, indigo, coffee, and cotton plantations. The revolution in France and its early promise to end slavery inspired the slaves of Haiti to begin their long battle for freedom and a battle that would lead to a declaration of an independent Haiti in 1804.
  • Padre Hidalgo calls for Mexican Independence

    In 1810, Padre Miguel Hidalgo. a priest on the small town village of Dolores, took the first step toward independence. Hidalgo was a poor but well-educated man. He firmly believe in Enlighttenment ideals. On September 16th, he rang the bells of his village church and issued a call for rebellion against the Spanish. Today, that call is known as the Grito de Dolores.
  • Napoleon is Defeated at the Battle of Waterloo

    On this date, the British army, led by the Duke of Wellington, prepared for battle near the village of Waterloo in Belgium. On June 18, 1815, Napoleon attacked. The British army defended its ground all day. Late in the afternoon the Prussia army arrived. Together they attacked and defeated Napoleon and his troops.