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Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, a fundamental document of French constitutional history, drafted by Emmanuel Sieyès, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on Aug. 26, 1789, and embodied in the French constitution of 1791 as a preamble. Its framers were much influenced by the American Declaration of Independence and by the philosophes (see Enlightenment). The French declaration listed the "inalienable rights" of the individual (a list of duties was, after some debate, omitted by its framers). The rights to "liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression" and the rights to freedom of speech and of the press were guaranteed. The document asserted the equality of men and the sovereignty of the people, on whom the law should rest, to whom officials should be responsible, and by whom finances should be controlled. Many of its provisions were aimed at specific abuses of the ancien régime. The declaration had immense effect on liberal thought in the 19th cent.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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