Connecting the Declaration of Independence and What is the Third Estate

The Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and signed in 1776 is unquestionably one of the most well-known and significant documents in American history. It spoke against British control and tyranny at that time. Jefferson pens, “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.” (Blaisdell 63-64) Jefferson then lists several of “His” (The King of England) transgressions and the overarching aspiration to form a state separate from England and all of the injustices that have been performed under English rule. He states, “A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of free people” (Blaisdell 66) and declares the freedom of the respective colonies.

Emmanual Joseph Sieyes brings forth similar emotions in his work, What is the Third Estate? Sieyes speaks out against “the privileged” when he writes, “’No matter how useful you are, ‘they said, ‘no matter how able you are, you can go so far and no further.’”(Blaisdell 72) Sieyes urges his fellow people to rise up against the wide-ranging umbrella of limitations and stresses the importance of reaching the estate’s full potential. He argues the Third Estate “contains everything that pertains to the nation” (Blaisdell 74) and questions why the estate is not something greater. These documents have inherent parallels and pose comparable points and questions, with Sieyes and Jefferson aiming for a similar goal.

2 thoughts on “Connecting the Declaration of Independence and What is the Third Estate

  1. I thought it was interesting and I enjoyed reading about how Jefferson and Emmanual Joseph Sieyes bring similar emotions and ideals. Both Jefferson and Emmanual have similar goals in mind. Emmnual and Jefferson both discuss the limitations put on the people and they both have a goal of justice as well as equality. I think that your post did a great job in including detail as well as supporting evidence.

  2. Firstly, well written post, especially as it was concise and to the point. One comment as a history major that I will make deals with line 3 in your first paragraph. Documents, however powerful they may be, cannot physically speak. They can influence or guide, but they cannot talk. I have a feeling that Prof. Qualls will be keen on usage of wording as such.

    Secondly, to your post in regards to its content, I completely agree with the similarities between Jefferson and Sieyes. To take your argument further, I would like to posit that they are both similar due to their being influenced by John Locke. Both documents you mention focus on the voice of the people, inalienable rights, and most importantly, the right of the people to unify and overthrow a ruler that has become too absolute in his power and out of touch with the people he rules. In other words, the rulers in both cases have become too Hobbesian for the constituents involved.

    Lastly, I would like to see if anyone knows whether Jefferson is referencing Machiavelli’s “Prince” (Blaisdell 66) in the line mentioned above at the end of the first paragraph?

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