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People's Rights In History Essay

2580 words - 10 pages

People's Rights in History During the late eighteenth century due to philosophical writings of
men such as Rousseau and Locke, the question of what governments
should be and the rights that every person should have began to be
questioned. In France it led to revolution and the Declaration of the
Rights of Man and the Citizen. The events in France influenced many in
Britain to try for reforms to their own government. Both France and
Britain advocated many rights for their people; this essay will
discuss what those rights were supposed to be, who pushed for them,
and what the realities of these rights were.

In France the concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity blossomed,
brought forth by the disenfranchised bourgeoisie (the middle class)
who found that their interests were ignored and only the interests of
the aristocracy were taken account of by the monarchy. They saw that
they had no rights and events led to the French Revolution. During
this time of upheaval changes occurred seeing the Declaration of the
Rights of Man and of the Citizen (DRMC) drawn up. This declaration
dealt with right to resist oppression and the need for a separation of
power to avoid a tyrannical government. Three of the 17 articles dealt
with the administration of justice. One of them asserts the right to a
presumption of innocence and another the freedom from arbitrary
detention. Thomson states that the DRMC, "…was careful to specify
those civic rights that most concretely expressed the immediate aims
of the middle classes which now predominated in the Assembly: equality
of all before the law, eligibility of all citizens for all public
offices, personal freedom from arbitrary arrest or punishment, freedom
of speech and the press, and above all an equitable distribution of
the burdens of national taxation and the inviolability of private
property.[1]" Unfortunately things did not play out the way people
would have expected after such a positive step. For it was a
revolution inspired by, led by, and ruled by the middle class and the
replacing governing power: the National Assembly, was filled mostly by
the bourgeoisie. It was no wonder, then, that the Constitution and the
economic reforms were, in the end, great windfalls for the middle
class although some things benefited all. Unfortunately, more was to
come that proved that the DRMC was not worth much to the people of
France as those in power breached it often.

The DRMC set out the basic rights and liberties that were supposed to
be taken account of when constituting the new government for France.
From the very beginning, people in power disregarded many of its
articles in pursuit of their own ends. Article 6 of the DRMC says that
in forming laws: every citizen has...

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