Talk:Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

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Unbalanced article?[edit]

This article is Great! This article is very poor — Preceding unsigned comment added by Germinal12 (talkcontribs) 19:57, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

This shouldn't be an article about Thomas Jefferson[edit]

Much of the article gives the impression that Thomas Jefferson was the fountainhead of the document, citing English-language historians. Certainly he was an influence but one among many, as he appears in the more balanced French article. The German, Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish articles don't even mention him by name, so the difference between the French and English articles can hardly be put down to French national pride. This reads rather like it was written by people who can only see the world from an Anglophone perspective . (talk) 23:03, 4 July 2015 (UTC)

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights[edit]

I suggest that the article should mention that the French Declaration had a major influence, along with several other Declarations, on the drafting of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, set forth in 1948. See: Tony (talk) 22:01, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Agreed. The article also speculates that US movements were not related to French ones based completely on the dates they were passed. This doesn't appear to have documented support and it is just as reasonable that correspondence could have influence before the dates each were passed phil — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:18, 25 May 2012 (UTC)


I am fairly certain that "severly" in Article 9 is a typo, but, as I don't speak French, I'm not 100% sure what it should be. (severely, severally (??)).


Article 9 Every man is supposed innocent until having been declared guilty; {but,} if it be considered essential to arrest, any action, which is not necessary to secure the person, must be severly repressed at law.

Randy Kramer

Clearly, "Severely" -- Jmabel 21:07, 9 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Articles not original text[edit]

I am wondering why the Articles were modified from the original text?


A recent edit claimed that Emmanuel J. Sieyes rather than the Marquis de Lafayette wrote the Declaration. I'm pretty confident that this was simply wrong, and have restored the attribution to Lafayette. I don't have an absolutely authoritative search, but a quick web search turned up dozens, probably hundreds, of sites attributing it to Lafayette and none to the Abbè Sieyes. It's going to take one heck of a citation to convince me otherwise. Sieyes, in fact, was responsible for the constitution that established the Consulate, the first Republican constitution to exclude the Declaration. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:55, Feb 2, 2005 (UTC)

It is not clear who is the "writer" of the Déclaration. It is rather a collective work. The text has been formally purposed to the assembly by Lafayette, but saying he has written the draft is far from the truth. Jean Joseph Mounier (Serment du jeu de Paume) is often quoted as the one who write/inspire the preambule.Vleclercq 14:55, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Better than the U.S. Declaration?[edit]

Whoever put this in claims that unlike the U.S. Declaration, the French declaration says that these are universals for all men.


"All Men are Created Equal?"

Quit with the anti-U.S. shit. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 26 Aug 2005.

I don't know who put in "Declaration of Independence": the contrast should presumably be to the U.S. Bill of Rights. The U.S. Declaration of Independence is a rather universalist document, but has no force in law.
The statement most closely resemble those in the Declaration of Independence, _not_ those in the Bill of rights, even while the rights enumerated in the two documents are similar. A survey of the congressional record during reconstruction (after the Civil War) demonstrates that The Declaration of Independence had substantially more force in politics then, and was cited as, and considered to be, politically binding if not legally so. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 20 Jan 2006.
In any event, I don't see anything in the article saying that this makes the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen "better". One could argue that it makes it far worse: that universalism led directly to the French Revolutionary Wars. Talk about going abroad in search of monsters to destroy…
Also, the article is hardly "anti-American": it specifically acknoledges the possible influence of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and Lafayette's connections to the U.S. presumably go without saying. -- Jmabel | Talk 07:45, August 26, 2005 (UTC)
Actually, you may remember that the French Revolutionary Wars were largely the result of foreign pressure to reinstate the king as an absolute ruler (see Brunswick Manifesto for instance). David.Monniaux 13:52, 26 August 2005 (UTC)
David, as I'm sure you know, these are all complicated questions (and I'm slightly playing devil's advocate here: if it comes down to it, the more universal, originally French notion of rights has more appeal for me, but there is certainly a case on the other side.) I agree that the French Revolutionary Wars were by no means a unilateral attempt to export the revolution, but to take it back a step before the Brunswick declaration, there is some reason to think that the powers of Central Europe felt threatened not only by the French Revolution itself but by these claims to universality. The Brunswick Manifesto claimed the intent of acting on behalf of Louis XVI, but Louis was almost certainly less than thrilled at the prospect of an invasion by Austria, among others. He sided, at least for a time, with the Girondist "war party", though quite possibly out of hope of his own country's army's defeat. This article is probably not the right place to go into all of that, though.
On another note, claims to universality may have had something to do with the French revolutionary tendency toward centralism and uniformity of administration, again not an unalloyed good.
In any case, without getting into whether the French or American choice was better, I think it is accurate to say that they were different. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen falls into a tradition of claims of universal rights based in natural law and a conception of a Republic of Virtue; the U.S. Bill of Rights falls into an Anglo-American tradition, somewhat more legalistic, with its vision of a Republic tempered by the pessimism of Hobbes, et. al. Certainly, Burke has stated the case as to why the latter might be preferable, and making this distinction should not be seen as invidious toward the American side. -- Jmabel | Talk 00:56, August 27, 2005 (UTC)

Liberty of association ???[edit]

The idea of liberty of association is nowhere to be found in the Declaration itself. It was created by The Conseil Constitutionnel in 1971, which claimed a constitutionnal tradition dating back to 1905. The preceding unsigned comment was added by Mrbluesky (talk • contribs) 4 Nov 2005.

Does someone have a citation for this so we can get it in the article? -- Jmabel | Talk 19:13, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
I'd rather erase the allusion entirely. It is clear that no refernce to association appears in the text (see wikisource link). What we could say, actually, is that the Declaration per se was conceived with an individualistic point of view. Consequently, there is no reference to right to strike, liberty of association, etc...-- Mrbluesky | Talk 00:53, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Sounds right to me. -- Jmabel | Talk 23:12, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

1905? Don't you mean 1901? The most famous date when refering to freedom of association in France is 1901, with this law. Aridd 22:02, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Either way, I still think the allusion is unneeded, and the discussion should be about the individualistic focus of the Declaration. - Jmabel | Talk 03:29, 7 April 2007 (UTC)


A recent edit changed "It sets forth fundamental rights not only of French citizens…" to "It sets forth fundamental rights not only of French male citizens…" (emphasis mine). The point is, on one level, well taken, but I am not sure this is the best way to make it. It might be better to discuss (rather than just mention in the see-also section) Olympe de Gouges and her Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The thing is, without rewording, the Declaration, still part of French law, is interpreted by French courts today as including women. Also, unless I am very mistaken, there is nowhere in the Declaration that it enumerates that these rights are specific to males, it was simply the understanding of the dominant, male supremacist culture of the time. In linguistic terms, as far as I know, in French, any group that includes both sexes, or any hypothetical individual of unknown gender, would be referred to with male nouns and adjectives. This use of language was not deliberately exclusionary on the part of the author of the Declaration. -- Jmabel | Talk 05:58, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Since no one has responded, I will rewrite accordingly. -- Jmabel | Talk 22:21, 19 November 2005 (UTC)

Being french, I strongly confirm that the man term word in the déclaration is not at all referring to "male", but to mankind. Female are not at all explicitely excluded from this declaration.Vleclercq 14:48, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

I concur with Vleclercq : the word 'man' ("homme") included and includes both gender. However, the word "citizen" at that time was only applying to male adults. So the sentence The Declaration, as originally understood, recognized most rights as only belonging to males should be changed as The Declaration, as originally understood, recognized citizen rights as only belonging to males --Geo115fr (talk) 20:13, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Most of the rights also apply to women (for example nr. 7, 8 and 9) and some are formulated with the term "the society". Only the rights of the citizens do not apply to women, as well as to any non-citizen men. We should not change to "recognized citizen rights as only belonging to males, as poor males, for example, could not vote in 1791. Ideportal (talk) 20:17, 17 October 2009 (UTC)


"However, it should be noted that the inspiration for the Declaration is widely individualistic. Consequently, neither freedom of assembly, liberty of association nor right to strike were consecrated in the text. However these principles acquired a constitutionnal value thanks to the provisions of the Constitution of the French Fourth Republic."

The statement that the document is individualistic seems wrong. The document is MORE individualistic than the previous political structure, but less individualistic than contemporary liberal societies. The sense of the French political system can be found in the description "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" (consider in opposition to "Life, Liberty, Property"). The political basis of fraternity is opposed to individualism, and has recently been the cause of decisions such as those restricting the use of religious garments in public schools (see the caveat after the freedom of religion statement, that it may not interfere with community). The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk • contribs) 20 Jan 2006.
I completley agree. the document is not individualisitc, far from it. Let s see the second sentence :"Les distinctions sociales ne peuvent être fondées que sur l’utilité commune" -> "Social separations/distinctions can only be based on common utility". This "common" word is very important. It put the stress on the fact that there is a "community", with superior interest (the nation, somehow). That is I think the first time(in this article) I've heard of the "individualisitc" behavior of this text. On an historical point of view, Jean Baptiste Mounier asked for a declaration of Human Rights (the minimum rights of each human) in addition to the first french constitution (the constitution itself is taking care of the non-individaulaistic part). so the 2 texts were complementary.

Hope it make sense.Vleclercq 15:09, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Anglo-American influences[edit]

From the article: "As can be seen in the texts, the French declaration is a copy of the declaration of Human Rights contained in the U.S. Declaration of Independence (4 July 1776) and the Virginia Declaration of Rights developed by George Mason in June 1776, which was itself based on the English 1689 Bill of Rights." I (strongly) agree that it was influenced by these prior documents, but "copy" seems to me to be much too strong. - Jmabel | Talk 07:06, 13 February 2006 (UTC)

I think you are right. Anybody is against changing this ? JeDi | JeDi
The Virginia Declaration of Rights is known as being an influence (striong is maybe not the right term) . But the biggest influence is the Age of Enlightments, and especially Montesqiueu (L'esprit des Lois). Talking about a copy is clearly wrong. And to close the circle, I think that the American text is itself inspired by the age of enlightements (Am I wrong ?)Vleclercq 15:15, 28 December 2006 (UTC)
Editing out numerous US-centric parts of this article. The Declaration was not written mainly by La Fayette, and certainly not by Ben Franklin (!). Its main inspiration was the political philosophy of the Enlightment, not the US Bill of Rights (itself a product of Enlightment ideas). Mrglass123 (talk) 20:15, 13 January 2008 (UTC)Mrglass123

Continuing with this, I think the connection to the US DoI is not as strong as the article suggests (see the French Wikipedia article, for example). The reference to Jefferson seems out of place, and the references cited do not support the text as written. These are parallel developments, more than linear ones. Jefferson was in discussion about these matters with Lafayette, which hardly establishes that the delegates were "well aware" of the DoI. John. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:37, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

The american declarations were just ancient traditions that had existed in English society going back through the centuries. for example: the petition of right, bill of rights 1689, is proof of this. these documents themselves weren't even anything new, they just reaffirmed the english traditions. even the american delaration uses the words " We hold these truths to be self-evident" which could back to the tradition that englishmen's rights were self evident. so you could say that England inspired it all Ben200 (talk) 22:14, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

The article now says "James Madison's proposal for a U.S. Bill of Rights was adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives on 21 August 1789., that is 5 days before the French declaration. Considering the speed at which information crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the 18th century, it is clear that the French declaration was not inspired by its US counterpart." This sort of statement seems pretty silly, as if it's part of a POV agenda rather than an attempt to convey useful information. The idea that any one American document was the exact counterpart of the French document seems problematic, and the text also now ignores the earlier Virginia Declaration of Rights, which of course was an influence on the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. More problematic seems to be the idea that we can firmly establish how much, in relative terms, these various documents/philosophies influenced later documents/philosophies, or worse, that we can definitely say that something didn't influence something that came later. None of this was occurring in a vacuum. There seems to be too much of a "we did it first!" mentality, ignoring the free flow of ideas and the collaborative efforts behind these landmark documents. Mdyank77 (talk) 06:16, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Aug 26 or Aug 27?[edit]

Some sources state Aug 26 while others go with Aug 27. Which is it?

Here is a university source (among countless others) that cites Aug 27:

But at the same time, there are just as many sources that cite Aug 26. I know this isn't a big deal, but... you know...

EDIT: I took the liberty of adding in the the (some sourcefs say August 27) for the time being.

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 20 June 2006.

"Rights of Man" vs. "Human Rights"[edit]

Droits de l'homme = Human Rights!!! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 7 September 2006.

"Droits Humaines" exists in French. And there is the contrast, from the same period, of Olympe de Gouges' "Déclaration des droits de la Femme et de la Citoyenne". Not to mention that this has been the conventional translation of the name of this document for over two centuries. I'm inclined to leave it as it is. - Jmabel | Talk 18:26, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Do you have a citation of a scholarly work translating it differently? - Jmabel | Talk 18:27, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Well I can understand the the historic translation is : "Rights of Man". but is should be considered as Human Rights. "Droits de l'homme" in french is used as the exact synonym of Human Rights. So if one should translate the title now, he would use Human Rigths without a single doubt. I think that the english translation is really an "historical " thing . In the "Right Of Man" term, there is an individualistic part that is not in "Human Rights". —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Vleclercq (talkcontribs) 15:29, 28 December 2006 (UTC).
I'm afraid there is no such idiom as "Droits Humaines" in French. Firstly because "droits" is masculine. Secondly because "droits humains" would mean "humane rights". Thirdly because the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is called "La déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme" We may choose to leave the most used translation "Rights of Man", but we should maybe add an explanation. Ideportal (talk) 20:10, 17 October 2009 (UTC)

Compare to other bills of rights[edit]

"First, I believe that this section should be renamed to just "Other Declarations of Human Rights" or "Other Bills of Rights".

Secondly, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen also is heavily influenced by the American Declaration of Independance, and can be compared to this document as well. A great example of the similarities is Article II of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen that states that: "The goal of any political association is the conservation of the natural and imprescriptible [i.e., inviolable] rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, safety and resistance against oppression." This is very similar to the assertion in the Declaration of Independance that each man is: "Endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights... life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." This comes from John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government" There are numerous other examples that show that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is compareable to the U.S. Declaration of Independance, and I believe that the Declaration of Independance should be listed in this section.-Hairchrm 00:02, 7 December 2006 (UTC)"

   Absolute rubbish, The French Revolution ideals come from Enlightenment, which draws on centuries of European struggles against monarchic and religious terror, and centuries of uprisings and revolutions long before there was such a thing as american replacement of a hereditary king with an elected one.
   There was no mention of a "creator" or any such ignoble nonsense. There was no mention of "natural rights" whatever that means. The French Revolution is a product of millennia of human striving for freedom (not "liberties" whatever that means). 
   Whatever the appallingly base english "philosophers" came up with in their reactionary musings - was never widely known beyond the anglo-world, was never seen as worth knowing by those who had the misfortune to have read it, and is STILL unknown/considered worthless in Europe.
   There are NO examples of similarity between The French Revolution and it's attainments which brought light to this World and a miserable military engagement in some backwater colony based on religious fanaticism and greed of slave-owning gentry. (talk) 12:18, 1 October 2011 (UTC) Allan 1/10/2011
Locke argued in his Two Treatises of Government that political society existed for the sake of protecting 'PROPERTY' which he defined as a person's "life, liberty, and estate" — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ditc (talkcontribs) 04:20, 13 June 2014 (UTC)


I believe that a new section is in store for this article. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen has influenced a lot of political documents, and also was influenced by a lot of documents. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was influenced by John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government", Montesquieu, Rousseau, and other political philosophers. It was also influenced by American documents, such as the Declaration of Independance, the U.S. Constitution, and English documents such as the Magna Carta, the English Bill of Rights, and other documents and court decisions. I believe that with the proper research, this section could be expanded to be very useful for potential readers.-Hairchrm 00:10, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I don't know about influence, but the United States House of Representatives passed what would become the Bill of Rights a few days before this Declaration, around 21 August. The House was not the de jure legislative power, but then again neither was the Constituent Assembly, which acted more like the US Convention of 1787 in a sua sponte fashion. Int21h (talk) 03:25, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

writer of the declaration[edit]

I am not sure at all that Lafayette is the drafter of the declaration . Is is known that Lafayette has formally purposed it to the assembly. It does not imply at all that he is the writer.I think he was a very strong sponsor, but the declaration is a collective act, inspired by multiple sources.Jean Baptiste Mounier is often quoted as the writer of the preambule. Furthermore, he is the one who asked for it in addition top the first constitution. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Vleclercq (talkcontribs) 15:23, 28 December 2006 (UTC).

Based on what we think or we "aren't sure" of, all mention of attribution has been deleted, along with whimsical wholesale deletions that rendered the remaining text inconsequential. Perhaps a statement attributing the text to its usually-credited authors can be made, --one supported by a reputable published source, to be sure. This article is simply not as good as its subject demands.--Wetman (talk) 07:43, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Suppressed text[edit]

This diff shows good former text that has been suppressed. An interested editor may want to open the diff in another window and reinstate good lost material.--Wetman (talk) 08:31, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

I have taken out unreferenced stuff. As per wikipedia policy there should be no original research. The article needs further expanding with sources.--SasiSasi (talk) 20:21, 24 September 2009 (UTC)
god, Himself, forbid that this text, of which wikipedia itself is a result, be in wikipedia itself. oh, btw, great english speakers, many others languages are not so shy. see german version, eg. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:21, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Women's rights[edit]

Actually in french the word for "man" is the same word for "human". But the translation in english do not take this in charge... That's why there is a capital letter at the begining of the world for "man" in french, the capital letter is here to tell us "we talk about the human in general, includes the women" that's why actually it's the "Declaration of the Rights of Human and of the Citizen" —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shensko (talkcontribs) 22:09, 6 September 2010 (UTC) ~

Actually "Man" in the English translation does mean "human being". You may find "man" used to refer to "mankind" in many older texts in English. When the declaration was written in 1789, English-speakers chose to translate it as "Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen". Ideportal (talk)

all men without exception[edit]

The text: "all men without exception" that is italicized -- where is that a quote from?

ZzzBrett (talk) 19:36, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

Re: Compare to other bills of rights[edit]

Absolute rubbish, The French Revolution ideals come from Enlightenment, which draws on centuries of European struggles against monarchic and religious terror, and centuries of uprisings and revolutions long before there was such a thing as american replacement of a hereditary king with an elected one.

There was no mention of a "creator" or any such ignoble nonsense. There was no mention of "natural rights" whatever that means. The French Revolution is a product of millennia of human striving for freedom (not "liberties" whatever that means).

Whatever the appallingly base english "philosophers" came up with in their reactionary musings - was never widely known beyond the anglo-world, was never seen as worth knowing by those who had the misfortune to have read it, and is STILL unknown/considered worthless in Europe.

There are NO examples of similarity between The French Revolution and it's attainments which brought light to this World and a miserable military engagement in some backwater colony based on religious fanaticism and greed of slave-owning gentry. (talk) 12:18, 1 October 2011 (UTC) Allan 1/10/2011 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Active vs Passive Citizenship[edit]

I would like to propose adding information under the "Omissions" on the distinction created by the Declaration between active citizens and passive citizens. This would give a better perspective on the political equality of the time. Augustus26 (talk) 15:32, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Occult "info"[edit]

The persistent attempts to insert this "information" has become disruptive. I suggest that any editor who feels that it has even a shred of validity should create a new section in the body per WP:LEAD and back it up with reliable sources. Let's note right now, however, that the "Eye of Providence" (such as it is) in the photo is not a good peg upon which to hang this entire argument. If a fringe theory must be given space here – and I don't believe it should – it needs to be presented with some substantive content. SteveStrummer (talk) 18:25, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

>>100% agree, the eye of providence argument is out of place and completely not in step with the historical development of the revolution. Vive la Liberté! Death to tyrants. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:28, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

FR as bourgeois revolution and Declaration as bourgeois class rights[edit]

There's a large body of literature, of the Marxist type, that argues the FR and the Declaration were the result of the struggle between the (triumphant) bourgeoisie and (defeated) feudal classes. The Declaration was a document, according to this body of literature, produced by and for the small minority property owning classes (e.g., Article 2 of Declaration announced property was a 'natural' and 'inalienable' right, disregarding the enormous mass of the population that possessed nothing according to Albert Soboul). — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ditc (talkcontribs) 00:02, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

Citation for C.L.R. James under Slavery section[edit]

From the article: "Despite the lack of explicit mention of slavery in the Declaration, slave uprisings in Saint-Domingue in the Haitian Revolution took inspiration from its words, as discussed in C. L. R. James' history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins.[citation needed]"

I don't know how citations work and don't really have time to figure it out, but a good source from The Black Jacobins reads: "The French soldiers [...] had given the fraternal embrace to all Mulattoes and all Negroes, telling them that the Assembly in France had declared all men free and equal. At many places near Port-au-Prince the Negroes were seizing arms and rebelling." That's page 83 of the 1963 Random House edition of the text. So, if someone who knows how this website works wants to put that information in there, feel free. Cheers.