Rights, Revolutions, and Revolutionaries in America and France

Throughout history, declarations have been written in order to make a society aware of the problems it faces, frequently appearing in times of rapid change and revolution. In her Declaration of the Rights of Women, Olympe de Gouge, a prominent female revolutionary in the late 18th century, argues that women deserve to share equality with men in matters concerning government, society, marriage, and all other areas of life.  De Gouge wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Women in response to the Rights of Man, challenging its suggestion that men are superior to women. Writing in a passionate, defiant tone, she addresses French women, intending to gain supporters and enlighten women of the injustices that are perpetually being posed against them by men and the French government. De Gouge criticizes the authority that reigns France, and insists that women should be equal to men in order to facilitate a “happy government”. She argues that with equality among men and women will come the purification of morals and a stronger government.

Similarly, the American Declaration of Independence appeals to the British monarchy, stating that the king has failed to comply with the necessities of the rights of the people. The same nature of defiance as seen in the Declaration of the Rights of Women is present in the Declaration of Independence, as both are created in opposition to authority the government has placed upon them.

In his document on the third estate, Sieyes also criticizes the state of the government, arguing that the Third Estate does not possess enough power and more responsibilities should be entrusted to it. The First and Second Estates should be eliminated, suggests Sieyes. If not that, all three estates should at least be under equal representation and common laws.

In both the French and American revolutions, the people of the country respond to injustices placed upon them by their ruling monarchies. Both countries successfully overthrow their monarchies, freeing themselves of inequities. Revolutionaries of both countries sought freedom from their imposing governments, liberating their countries and earning their natural rights through the power of discourse.


3 thoughts on “Rights, Revolutions, and Revolutionaries in America and France

  1. De Gouge wrote to bring attention to the necessity of gender equality and stated that a revolution to gain equality for women will not happen until women become aware of their lesser treatment. Once women recognize that they do not share the same rights as men, change will occur and equality achieved.

  2. The contagioussness of the Declaration of Independence suggests that the American Colonists achieved more than just revolution in America. This phenomonon of revolution rapidly spreading across countries, even continents is consistent with other sudden bursts of rebellion in history. It proves that even the effects of the actions of a few people can stretch far past their intentions. The potential power invested in each of us is just as frightening as inspiring.

  3. All three documents have similar revolutionary intentions, yet very different audiences. De Gouges’ intended audience is French women, who she urges to shrug off the yoke of oppression and demand their rights as equal to men. Sieyes’ intended audience is the third estate, who he rallies to demand equal status to the other two estates. The intended audience of the Declaration of Independence is the British monarchy as well as the American colonists, to assert independence and freedom.

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