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A Constitution has come before us that places rights and liberty in the hands of man. This document “was not drawn up without heated discussion over it’s numerous articles”(Gershoy) and it took a “course of a month and a half from August to October, 1789,”(Gershoy) to have the earliest revision drafted. “The work was completed, with certain important revisions, in 1791 and accepted by King Louis on September 14, 1791”(Gershoy). These are the summed up events of how our Constitution of 1791 came about. This document guarantees natural and civil rights to man by stating, “that all the citizens are eligible to offices and employments, without any other distinction than that of virtue and talent” (Constitution of 1791). It gives “liberty to every man to speak, to write, to print and publish his ideas”(Constitution of 1791) and “liberty to the citizens to meet peaceably and without arms”(Constitution of 1791). The Constitution also spreads the power throughout different groups by means of the legislative power, executive power, and judicial power, so now “sovereignty is one, indivisible, inalienable, and imprescriptible; it belongs to the nation”(Constitution of 1791). The Constitution of 1791 has led our nation in the right direction. It has placed civil rights in the hands of the government and man to avoid chaos and to strive for success.
I encourage you men though, to consider the facts of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, which was created a few months before the Constitution. This Declaration was “voted on August 27, despite the sharp discussion as to whether it should precede or follow the constitution. It was the death certificate of the Old Regime, but it contained the promise of a new life for France… It represents a thorough indictment of the old order and a statement of the general principles upon which the new would be built”(Gershoy). I want to place before you the consideration of adding the Declaration of the Rights of Man into the Constitution of 1791. This document would help refine our Constitution and only strength it by adding more means of balance for each Frenchmen, which I highly believe in. The Declaration states principles such as “men are born and remain free and equal in rights”(Declaration of Rights of Man) and the “law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the right to take part personally, or by their representatives, in its formation”(Declaration of Rights of Man). These are just two key factors in the Declaration that would benefit and strengthen our Constitution.
Most importantly the Constitution doesn’t focus on the rights of man to property. It only highlights this matter by stating, “property intended for the expenses of worship and for all services of public utility belong to the nation and is at all times at its disposal”(Constitution of 1791). The Declaration though, goes into much more detail about each mans rights towards land with “the aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression” (Declaration of Rights of Man). A crucial importance here is that the Declaration emphasizes the rights of each Frenchman towards owning property. This right isn’t just here for the rich or the bourgeoisie. It represents the vast majority of people in France which is the main objective towards the general will. This article later follows through with another article stating, “property is a sacred and inviolable right, no one can be deprived of it, unless a legally established public necessity evidently demands it, under the condition of a just and prior indemnity”(Declaration of Rights of Man). This statement highlights the importance of property and outlines exceptions.
Some may argue against property like Rousseau does, especially when he states, “property was introduced”(Rousseau Second Discourse p.120) and “equality vanished”(Rousseau Second Discourse p.120). This man believed that as men become more wealthy “the rich on their side scarcely began to taste the please of commanding, when they preferred it to every other; and making use of their old slaves to acquire new ones, they no longer thought of anything but subduing and enslaving their neighbors”(Rousseau Second Discourse p. 123). His argument was that the rich abused their powers and enslaved the poor. According to Locke though, all men should have “life, liberty, health and property”(Locke/ packet). These are the natural rights to all human beings and they are what make humans equal. To protect each mans rights and arguing against Rousseau’s fears, Locke believes “no one should violate others rights to life, liberty, health or property” (Locke/ packet). As humans we need to realize in order to succeed and achieve equality, we need to respect each Frenchmen’s rights towards property and not violate these rights.
Our current Constitution is appropriate for our nation but it leaves out many essential factors in mans rights, especially the matter focusing on property. To better our country and unite it I urge you people to consider adding the Declaration of Rights of Man into the Constitution. Locke once said, “God created man, and in effect, we are God’s property…. A person without property is, by definition, impoverished, and helpless, dependent on others or on the state, and thus subservient to them. A man without property is not really free and cannot easily carry out the duties of a citizen. But in addition to being an expression of liberty, property, wisely employed, can generate wealth and thus improve human happiness”(Locke/ packet). “By guaranteeing property and property rights, the Constitution will benefit all Frenchmen, which is the true objective of the general will” (Packet).