Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

(1789)

Impact

The reforms of the National Assembly dismantled the ancien régime in France. The instrument by which this was done was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. With the National Assembly’s decrees of August 4, 1789, the equality demanded by the bourgeois was achieved. The declaration expressed the liberal and universal goal of Enlightenment philosophers and the middle class—government by the people—with the aim of ensuring that government would exist to preserve the natural rights of the individual. The declaration struck at the Roman Catholic Church in France by ending tithes, taking church lands, and resulting in passage of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy in 1790, making the clergy civil servants elected by the people and paid by the state. This issue divided the French people.

The 1791 constitution upheld the principles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen by limiting the power of the king and guaranteeing equal taxation...

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Marquis de Lafayette (Library of Congress)

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