Episode 165: The Age of Revolutions

Between 1763 and 1848, revolutions took place in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe. But why is it that we only seem to remember the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Haitian Revolution?

Given that the American Revolution took place before all of these other revolutions, what was its role in influencing this larger “Age of Revolutions?” Did it influence this larger period?

Our exploration of what the American Revolution looked like within the larger period known as the “Age of Revolutions” continues as Janet Polasky, a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire and the author of Revolutions Without Borders: The Call of Liberty in the Atlantic World, guides us through the period to explore answers to these questions.

About the Series

The mission of episodes in the Doing History: To the Revolution series.  is to ask not just “what is the history of the American Revolution?” but “what are the histories of the American Revolution?”

The Doing History series explores early American history and how historians work. It’s produced by the Omohundro Institute.

Be sure to check out Doing History season 1, Doing History: How Historians Work.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Janet Polasky, the Presidential Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire and the author of Revolutions Without Borders: The Call of Liberty in the Atlantic World, leads us on an exploration of the Age of Revolutions and how the American Revolution fit into that age.

As we explore this period in greater detail, Janet reveals information about the Age of Revolutions and why it took place; How the American Revolution fit within the Age of Revolutions; And, how revolutionary ideas and revolutions spread across the Atlantic World.

What You’ll Discover

  • The Age of Revolutions
  • The burgeoning literature on the American Revolution in a global context
  • The American Revolution within the Age of Revolutions
  • Influence of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense
  • Traveling revolutionaries
  • Travel journals, narratives, and revolutionary ideas
  • Rumors and revolutions
  • Newspapers clubs and revolutionary ideas
  • Information and revolutions
  • American reaction to the Age of Revolutions


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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what would have happened if all, or more of the Revolutions that took place during the Age of Revolutions had succeeded? 

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