August 20–26, 1789: Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was a product of both theory and fact. The National Assembly interrupted its consideration of these principles to take account, between August 4 and 11, of the fact of the peasant revolution, and when they returned to vote the following articles between August 20 and 26, they composed and arranged them, as Georges Lefebvre has shown unforgettably, in awareness of the old regime that they were combating and of material interests and political considerations in the new one that they were shaping. The Declaration leaves much unsaid concerning the intentions of its authors, both in the way of practical implementations that were to prove disappointing and cause difficulties, and in the way of a general social philosophy that envisaged liberty and equality insuring justice in an individualistic society. Both the realism and the faith were to be expressed in their subsequent actions. The document as presented below was translated from Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen, décrétés par l’Assemblée nationale dans les séances des 20, 21, 23, 24, et 26 août 1789, acceptés par le Roi (Paris, Goujon, s.d.), a poster of 1789 reproduced photographically for the Exposition des Droits de l’Homme of 1969.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.