Government and Politics

Marie Antoinette

What were the Rights of Man?

In 1789 the French assembly made the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, meant to flesh out the revolutionary cry of “liberty, equality, and fraternity.” Influenced by the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776) as well as the ideas of the Enlightenment, the document guaranteed religious freedom, the freedom of speech and the press, and personal security. It proclaimed that man has natural and inalienable rights, which include “liberty, property, personal security, and resistance to oppression….” The declaration further stipulated that “No one may be accused, imprisoned, or held under arrest except in such cases and in such a way as is prescribed by law” and that “Every man is presumed innocent until he is proved guilty… “The declaration was subsequently written into the preamble of the French constitution (1791). However, the Code Napoleon superseded many of the ideas it set forth.


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