The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were the origins of modern thought and modern political life. Although changes began with the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century and the Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, two late eighteenth-century events, the American and French Revolutions, mark the beginning of modern ideas about politics and society.
Europe had been in flux since 1789: borders shifted; monarchs deposed; empires established; republics emerged and disapeared. Revolutionary terms such as liberty, constitutionalism, equality and nationalism had spread throughout Europe, and could not be revoked.
The mid - 19th century is marked by massive changes in the global geo-political structure. The American and French
Revolutions inspired new upheavals against the old order throughout Europe and
Independence movements swept through South America. In Spanish/Portuguese America, colonies were officially governed by peninsulares, (colonial officials). Inspired by both the American and French revolutions, the creoles (creoles, people born in the colonies of Spanish or Portuguese ancestry) wished to establish political independence, similar to that established in the United States. Despite the independence achieved in Latin America, the society remained rigidly stratified. Slavery continued, the Catholic church remained the official religion, and lower classes were often repressed. The Creole elites were the principal beneficiaries of independence, not the population as a whole.
In North America, the southern states of the United States attempted to secede from their union setting off a bloody civil war. In Asia, Japan got involved in a period of modernization.
In Europe, after Napoleon’s final defeat,
the victorious nations, Britain, Austria, Prussia and Russia, sent delegates to
the Congress of Vienna in an attempt to restore pre-revolutionary order. The Congress had some success, the balance of power it
established lasted until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
Even so, it was
impossible to stop the onset of national consciousness and ideas of popular
sovereignty and forces like liberalism, democracy and nationalism. A wave of rebellions soon swept through Europe. The first such
outbreak was in the Balkans, where Greek speaking people rebelled against the
Ottoman Empire. Other revolutions broke out throughout Europe and rocked France, Austria and Prussia: A Revolution of
1848 brought down the French monarchy. Numerous other rebellions failed to
achieve national identity for their proponents. Nationalist sentiment was most
successful in uniting Italy and Germany into united Nation States. German and Italian unification drastically changed the balance of power on the continent.
Furthermore, the American and French revolutions led to the development of new political ideologies, visions of human nature, human society, and the world which propose some form of political and social organization as ideal. Among these were:
Conservativism: Conservatives considered society as an organism which
changed very slowly, and opposed radical or sudden change.
Nationalism: The experiences of people throughout the Napoleonic Wars combined with Enlightenment ideas led the people of Europe to think of themselves as members of distinctive communities who shared a common language and culture. This thinking gave rise to the birth of Nationalism, the movement to unite people of a common culture into a united community or nation. Nationalistic ideology often promised glory and prosperity to those who worked in the interests of the nation. The nation state became the model of political organization in Europe and later throughout the world.
Here you have the resources for the following topics Liberal Revolutions, Nationalism and Romanticism.
(TEXT FROM http://www.historydoctor.net/Advanced%20Placement%20World%20History/39.%20Age_of_revolution_in_Europe_and_America.htm AND History of Europe and the Middle East, by Habibi, M. et al., Oxford University Press, 2010)