People Abroad, 1763—1789

Portrait by Artist to Come

OVERVIEW

The 27 years during which America awakened to its need for independence — debated it, declared it, struggled for it, and ratified and effected its Constitution — were bookended by the end of one global conflict and the beginning of another.

In Europe the 1763 Peace of Paris concluded the Seven Years War, sometimes called the first true world war. It was a conflict that involved all of the major European countries, and once again pitted Great Britain against France for global dominance. In 1789, with the storming of the Bastille, the French Revolution began — influenced by the American Revolution, but begun for lack of bread. It would lead to mass executions of its own people, the rise of Napoleon to general and emperor, millions killed elsewhere, and once more a face-off between France and Britain.

LINKS
Europeans who are contributing to their culture during the American Revolution.

Artists

Explorers and Inventors

Musicians

  • Bach, Johann Christian (1735—82)
  • Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770—1827)
  • Gluck, Christoph Willibald (1714—87)
  • Haydn, Joseph (1732—1809)
  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756—91)

Philosophers

Rulers

    England

    Habsburg Empire (including Austria & Hungary)

    • Maria Theresa (1717—80); Empress, 1740—80
    • Joseph II (1741—90); Emperor, 1780—90; Holy Roman Emperor, 1765—90

    Russia

Scientists & Mathematicians

Writers

The French years provided Franklin’s detractors precisely what they needed: proof that the ur-American was un-American. Franklin was the Founding Father who had come the furthest, which makes him today the most compelling; he was also the Founding Father who traveled the farthest, which in his own century made him the most suspect. Few other homes in Philadelphia sported both Réaumur and Fahrenheit thermometers. The story goes that when Franklin proposed that Congress open its meetings with a prayer, Alexander Hamilton quipped that that body had no need of foreign aid. The story may be apocryphal but the sentiment was real. The expatriate patriot, Franklin was associated in many minds with the dependent chapter of American independence, one better expunged from the record.

Stacy Schiff
A Great Improvisation: Franklin, France, and the Birth of America (2005)