As I am sitting on my balcony of a boat traveling down the Mosel River in Germany, passing picturesque villages founded before Christopher Columbus was even born, I am in awe of this place with its castles and massive churches. While I am having a dream vacation, I am also thinking upon what the history of this region can teach. As you know, I believe history is here for us to learn from, and while I was spending a few days in Paris, eating some amazing food, I have realized how part of France’s history may be mirroring our own right now.

When we were making plans for Paris, I was excited to spend some time looking around the city and visiting the historic sites. As I made a list of the things I wanted to see, there were the normal attractions, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Grand Entrance. As an American historian, I was interested in the history of the two World Wars, but I am also interested in the French Revolution. When you teach early American history, you end up teaching a great deal of European history, and the French Revolution played a part in shaping that history. Knowing this, there were a few sites I wanted to see like the Palace at Versailles and the Bastille. Yet to my surprise, the Bastille no longer stands. It turns out it was destroyed by the new revolutionary government because of what it stood for, and it was not the only structure to suffer damage from a new regime.   

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