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Declaration of Independence, 1776

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The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), was deeply influenced by the European Enlightenment. He spent many years in Paris and was just as much at home among European intellectuals as he was on his plantation in Virginia. Although a slaveholder, Jefferson wrote eloquently about freedom for the colonists. Even though it was not an official part of the U.S.... Read More »

Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man and Citizen, Constitution of the Year III (1795)

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After the fall of Robespierre and the dismantling of the Terror, the National Convention drafted yet another republican constitution. The new constitution was also approved in a referendum and put into effect 26 October 1795. It remained until Napoleon came to power in November 1799. Note that this declaration links duties with rights. It also drops the references to welfare and public... Read More »

Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man and Citizen, Constitution of the Year III (1795)

Source

After the fall of Robespierre and the dismantling of the Terror, the National Convention drafted yet another republican constitution. The new constitution was also approved in a referendum and put into effect 26 October 1795. It remained until Napoleon came to power in November 1799. Note that this declaration links duties with rights. It also drops the references to welfare and public... Read More »

Declaration of the Independence of the Blacks of St. Domingo

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This important and revealing document evokes both the contemporary situation in the colonies and the political developments taking place in Paris. It comes from Marcus Rainsford’s supportive account of the Haitian Revolution.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen from the Constitution of the Year I (1793)

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The National Convention drew up this new declaration of rights to attach to the republican constitution of 1793. The constitution was ratified in a referendum, but never put into operation. It was suspended for the duration of the war and then replaced by a new constitution in 1795. Note the contrast with the original Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen; this one places more emphasis... Read More »

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 26 August 1789

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Once they had agreed on the necessity of drafting a declaration of rights, the deputies of the National Assembly still faced the daunting task of composing one that a majority could accept. The debate raised several questions: should the declaration be short and limited to general principles or should it rather include a long explanation of the significance of each article; should the... Read More »

Decree against Profiteers

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In July 1793, faced with a restive populace angered by continuing shortages of food in Paris, the Convention followed the lead of the sections in blaming the high price of bread on "profiteers" in the countryside, who were taking advantage of their fellow citizens by charging abnormally high prices for grain. This decree, the first of a series of such condemnations by the Convention, responded... Read More »

Decree of the National Assembly Abolishing the Feudal System, 11 August 1789

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The abolition of the feudal system, which took place during the famous night session of 4–5 August 1789, was precipitated by the reading of a report on the misery and disturbances in the provinces. The voting was carried in a fervor of enthusiasm and excitement that made some later revision necessary. The decree given here was drawn up during the following days and contains some alterations... Read More »

Decree of the National Convention of 4 February 1794, Abolishing Slavery in all the Colonies

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News traveled slowly from the colonies back to France, and the first word of the emancipations in Saint Domingue aroused suspicion if not outright hostility in the National Convention. Many of the original members of the Society of the Friends of Blacks, such as Lafayette, Brissot, and Condorcet, had either fled the country or gone to their deaths at the guillotine for opposing the faction now... Read More »

Decree of the Parlement of Paris against Robert–François Damiens

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After a three–month trial, the magistrates found Damiens guilty of parricide against the person of the King on 26 March 1757. In a final interrogation, Damiens is once again asked about accomplices. He then denies having them.

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