Dennis Prager Contrasts the American and French Revolutions

In 1775, the American Revolution began. In 1787, America wrote up its Constitution, which went into effect in 1789. In 1789, France began its revolution. But the two were very different. The American founders adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. In effect, they declared independence from Great Britain, while at the same time declaring dependence upon God, whom they mention in that document four times.

Dennis Prager, the founder of PragerU, notes that the difference between the American the French Revolutions are monumental. And the key is simple: The American Revolution was pro-God, while the French Revolution was anti-God.

For my series of films on American History, The Foundation of American Liberty, I had the privilege of doing a TV interview with Dennis Prager in his study (where he does his famous fireside chats) on September 11, 2019. Here is the transcript of a portion of that interview where he contrasted these two revolutions.

Dennis Prager:

The American Revolution and French Revolution is the battle in the United States.  Which revolution will prevail? Now, they loathe the idea of God in the French Revolution; the secular republic was the ideal.  In America, they believed in secular government, but in a God-based society, because rights come from God in America.  And you can only have liberty if you have God.  And this is a logical, this is not a faith statement I am making.  People  will either feel accountable for their behavior to God or the state.  Those are your two choices.  It is an absurdity to believe they’ll be good if they’re accountable only to themselves.  If you’re only accountable to yourself, you will always justify what you do.  So, it’s foolishness to believe you can make a good society where everybody is only accountable morally to themselves.  It’s either gonna be a big state or a big God. Now, sometimes it’s a big God and a big state, that’s a theocracy, that’s in Islam and sometimes in Medieval  Europe.  But the American ideal was small state, big God.  The French Revolution was big state, little God.  That’s one of the differences.  Another one is, we don’t have equality in our motto.  We have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; they have liberty, equality, fraternity.  And of course, liberty and equality are are almost mutually exclusive.  The freer the country, the less equality in some ways you will have.  Obviously a baseball player is free to make far more money than a doctor or than a teacher.  That’s because it’s a free country.  In a country that says, no, that’s not right, then a third baseman and a surgeon and a teacher and a sanitation person will make the same amount of money, which is the ideal of many people who do want to follow the French Revolution.  Everybody is then citizen, right?, or comrade in communist terminology.  That is the battle the French Revolution and American Revolution, and God is the ultimate issue.