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The battle of the declarations

Posted by: | September 22, 2010 | No Comment |

Jean Jacque Rousseau wrote The Social Contract before the American and French Revolutions took place, its contents were

Rousseaus Social Contract

Rousseau's Social Contract

so influential that the documents that were to fallow both Revolutions would attempt to mirror many of Rousseau’s beliefs. The problem, which was the solution to all the struggles, Rousseau stated was, “To find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before.” But was a true solution ever found?  Rousseau died as the American Revolution was underway not allowing him to see the outcome of either the American or French Revolutions; so now the question posses, would Rousseau have been pleased with the outcomes of these Revolutions or would his work seem to have been a giant waste of time? As the Revolutions came to an end and documents stating the way things would then fallow Rousseau’s word seemed to live on.  Both the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of the Rights of Man model ideas that Rousseau had previously written about in his Social Contract.

“MAN is born free; and everywhere he is in chains” The Social Contract

The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence


How to free man from chains that society places him in was an issue that both the French and Americans tried to achieve.  “Social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions,” was stated by Rousseau in The Social Contract.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Rights of Man

The Declaration of Rights of Man

But if all men are born free with these rights, why must they be written in one of the most important documents in American history? For the same reason that the French felt the need to include, “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good,” Declaration of Rights of Man

The Declaration of Independence states that, “It is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it [the government], and to institute new government.” However the French took  a different approach to the rights that men had in regards to their government., “The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body not individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.”

“All justice comes from God, who is its sole source,” The Social Contract

Both documents address God and religion as something that should be separate from the state. However the Declaration of Independence states that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” while the Declaration of Rights of Man says that no man will be judge on his religious views or actions “provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.”

Both documents also divide the government into three branches of power and attempt to give men there god given rights back.

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