The French Revolution and Human Rights

The French Revolution and Human Rights

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My character is a delegate from a rural provinces Guyenne and Gascony known collectively as Bordeaux
Things that were happening in my province: Rioting, persecution of the clergy, iconoclast actions against the church and overall a very strong desire for change from the people. The workers keep getting paid less and less, taxed more and more and declining harvests mean they must pay more for bread. A lot of the anger for this is directed at the church because they have been taking 10% and the high officials are living lavishly rather than helping the poor. Also the church is supposed to help the people, but the high officials of the church do not want to fight with the existing government, because that government and the high church officials are getting fat by their association.
What motivations and objectives would my character have? My character would wish not to be killed by the people who are relying on me to work for their benefit. My goals are reforming the government and laws to give equal rights to all male citizens of France and also making political alliances that will give me leverage to help the people of Bordeaux.
Questions and answers
1. What are landmark events that have occurred in France Since June 17th 1789?
a. The king ordered the assembly to convene.
b. Representatives were elected for the assembly
c. The Rioters in Paris invaded the Bastille and released all the prisoners.
d. The riots in Paris started before the assembly and continued during the assembly.
e. The king was forced into out of his palace and into Paris.

2. Why do you consider them to be landmark events?
a. When the king was forced to convene the assembly, it was a sign that the nobility of France no longer held the power. The people saw this and knew that they now had the power to restructure France.
b. When representatives were elected to the council, it was a sign that the revolution was calming and if the representatives acted quickly in the way the people wanted, the revolution would disappear entirely.
c. The invasion of the Bastille showed that the rioters would not be denied change.
d. The riots before and during the assembly, were no doubt influential to the representatives while they were reshaping Paris. In this way the riots had a direct effect on the new constitution of France.
e. If the king is within easy reach of rioters, he has no choice, but to abide by the ruling of the assembly.

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3. What is your opinion of the events?
a. I see the weakness of the king as an opportunity to take action toward change. I also know that my actions will never again carry more weight than they do at the assembly.
b. Since representatives were elected, I have a voice in the future of Paris. I also received enough support from the people to be elected, so I can take action, safe in the knowledge that a lot of the people want me to speak for them, not kill me.
c. I am a little worried about what a crowd willing to attack a guarded prison might do to me if my actions do not satisfy them.
d. I am unnerved by the chanting outside because it is a constant reminder of my fate, should I fail to please the crowd by my negotiations.
e. I feel secure knowing that there is no chance of a force of royal mercenaries marching into Paris and slaughtering everyone in both the crowd and the assembly.


4. Who should have the right to vote?
All male citizens. The inclination of the assembly at this time is that voters are “not to be even a servant” (The French Revolution and Human Rights 82) because their situation in such that they cannot be trusted with political rights. My goals at the assembly are to enact change to the running of France, Not Attempt to make France break from the almost universal global tradition of patriarchal society.

What should the role of the king be in the new government?
He should work with a parliament of elected representatives, so that no law is passed without the consent of both the king and the parliament. The king should not be allowed to stop legislation that is supported by a super majority of parliament.

5. Should the catholic priests obey the “general will” of the assembly?
No, the state should not be allowed to maintain control the church. A state that controls all political power and all religious doctrine is ripe for corruption and will eventually regress into a dictatorship. If the state dictates the morals by which people are to judge their elected officials then the state will dominate rather than govern. Instead the will of the people will act on the church without any intervention on the part of the state. If people do not like what the church is doing they should be allowed to pay the 10% tithe in taxes to the state instead of the church. The church will change its ways really fast if they start losing money to the state.

6. Are traditional values bulwarks or chains of society? Both. When hard times come upon a society that has no values or traditions, the people of that society have nothing in common to hold onto, or fight for. On the other hand when traditions stand in the way of innovations that can benefit a society, they become a chain that must be stretched or broken so that the society can progress.

7. Should the rights of man include property? Yes. Without the right to own anything, people will not have much motivation to excel or try to earn more.

8. Should the rights of man extent to women, slaves, and Jews? No. I will have enough trouble convincing this assembly of men to give substantial and lasting political rights to all male citizens. . As long as Jewish men meet the requirements the assembly sets for voting, they should allowed to vote. A widely held belief is that “women are incapable of exercising the rights of citizenship” (The French Revolution and Human Rights 119-121). When a county makes small steps, it is less likely to fall than if it tries to take giant leaps.

9. Is Violence a legitimate means of changing society or purging it of dangerous enemies? Should violence be a monopoly of the state? Yes. There will always be times when violence becomes necessary to maintain order or invoke changes in society. As far as purging society, that is something that must be done carefully and no single establishment should have the right to decide who an enemy is.
No the state should not hold a monopoly on violence for the same reason its power must be restricted. Were the state to be the only entity allowed to use violence, they could simply dominate the people rather than governing them.

10. France is being threatened by outside powers. What should France do about this? Form a standing army of French citizens, secure the boarders and build defensive fortifications. France should not go further into debt by attempting preemptive strikes or conquest against potential enemies.


Works Cited
The French Revolution and Human Rights, Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996, Page 82, and pages 119-121.

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