Similarities and Differences of the French Declaration

The 1789 French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen and the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence are similar in one major way: they stated that the citizens of respective countries are free and equal. The documents were also against monarchy rule, too. Both documents, however, ignored the rights of women and slaves. They were not allowed to participate in the drafting of the Declarations. Some groups of women in United States and France would later petition for inclusion of women’s rights in the constitution.

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The Declaration of the Independence and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen were each drafted by one person.  Marquis de Lafayette largely composed the former while Thomas Jefferson largely composed the latter (1789 - The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen).

Both Declarations called for the freedom of speech and press, common defense, a halt to unusual punishments and presumption of innocence until proven guilty (Censer & Hunt, 2001).


The reasons for the composure of the two declarations differ. The main purpose of the French Declaration was to outline in writing the natural rights each citizen was entitled to. The American Declaration of Independence stated how the States had been oppressed and wronged long enough by their colonial masters, the British. The document was, therefore, written to prove a point to them (Censer & Hunt, 2001).

The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was just a reminder of French values that needed to be recorded in an official document. This document was enforcing the idea of equality and freedom. The United States Declaration of Independence was, on the other hand, used to fight for equality and freedom.

While the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was declaring specific universal rights, the United Stated Declaration was just indicating that certain rights were apparent.


Since the two documents were written for different purposes, there aren’t many areas of similarity.

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