The Declaration of Independence and the Third Estate

The Declaration of Independence discusses the reasons why the United States decided to break off from England and become its own nation. This document discusses how it is a government’s responsibility to protect certain rights of the citizens: “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Blaisdell 64). If a government does not protect these rights, then it is the rights of the governed people to “abolish it, and to institute new Government” (Blaisdell 64). The British government did not protect and uphold these rights of the people; rather, it caused a series of “repeated injuries” and established “absolute Tyranny over these States” (Blaisdell 64). The writers of the Declaration were clearly not satisfied with the government and how it protected its people. Therefore, they intended to create their own new form of government, which would do a better job in helping its citizens instead of merely ignoring their concerns. In this case, political power is created through a new form of government with different branches, such as a Representative House, Legislature, and Judiciary powers.

In France, the citizens also were not satisfied with their government. The Third Estate of France is described as “everything;” the people of the Third Estate are the commoners (Blaisdell 70). Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes, author of What is the Third Estate? describes how the Third Estate is a complete nation by itself. In order to be considered a nation, it must provide “private activities and public services” (Blasdell 71), which the Third Estate does provide. For example, it must provide public services such as “the army, the law, the Church, and the bureaucracy” and private activities such as merchants, families who work on land, and the sale of goods (Blaisdell 71-72). France cannot run without the Third Estate and would ultimately do much better without the first two estates. The French are concerned with establishing their own rights: “Liberty, Prosperity, Security, and Resistance of Oppression” (Blaisdell 80). The French were less interested than the Americans establishing a new form of government that protected the rights of the citizens; rather, they concentrated on establishing a government that kept part of their old form of government and bashing the rest of their government.

2 thoughts on “The Declaration of Independence and the Third Estate

  1. I think the French were just as interested as the Americans in establishing a new form of government. Seiyes’ propositions to change the Estate General were very radical, and sought to completely overhaul the structure of the general assembly.

  2. The ideas about liberation and democracy of the Declaration of Independence are surely from the enlightenment movement in Europe, in fact Sieyes also contributed in the creation of the Declaration of Independence. However, United States had a remarkable advantage to be a republic compare with European countries: it didn’t been directly controled by monarchy government, even the past ruler of northern America, Britain is also a constitutional monarchy country. Thus conditions surly provided a good fundation for United States be a republic. The France was in a different situation. The explaination of Third class by Sieyes is a signal that more and more French noticed that they, the people is the state, not the king. Kings and nobles had took too much from people and didn’t fulfill their obligations(as the tradition, feudal lord have obligation to protect his people) well. For that reason, people denied the necessity of the noble class. However, France had been ruled by monarch and nobelity thousands of years, many people still wish to use bloodless way to access liberty. In Tennis Court Oath, people’s wish still was to cancel the estates, not to cancel the monarchy. So based by same concepts and ideas about democracy, in the specific situation at that period, the form of republic find a more suitable soil to grow in northern America.

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