The Life and Works of Thomas Paine - Vol. 7

By Thomas Paine; William M. Van der Weyde | Go to book overview

PLAN OF A DECLARATION

OF THE NATURAL, CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS OF MAN

THE aim of men gathered together in society being the maintenance of their natural, civil and political rights, these rights are the basis. of the social compact, and their recognition and their declaration should precede the constitution which assures their guarantee.

APPEALING to the French National Convention from the Luxembourg prison, where he was confined during most of the year 1794, Paine states that, as a member of the committee for framing the Constitution, he had prepared a Plan, probably in collaboration with Condorcet, from whose works the accompanying document is taken. This is corroborated by Dr. John Moore, in whose "Aphorisms, Opinions and Reflections of Thomas Paine" ( London, 1826) it is stated that such a collaboration occurred.

As the Constitution of 1793 was reported by the Committee on February 15, and as Robespierre objected to the "Declaration of Rights" on April 15 because it made no mention of a Supreme Being, it must have been drawn up before those dates, probably in January. Jefferson regretted with Paine that the Constitution of the United States contained no Declaration of Rights to safeguard the individual against a despotic majority.

1. The natural, civil and political rights of man are liberty, equality, security, property, social guarantees, and resistance to oppression.
2. Liberty is the power to do everything that does not interfere with the rights of others: thus, the exercise of the natural rights of every indi-

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