The second major human rights document of the eighteenth century was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen
, drafted by Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes and adopted by the Constituent Assembly of France on August 26, 1789.
Here I briefly review three canonical texts in the literature of human rights law: the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, and the Bill of Rights.
Jefferson, then the United States ambassador, wrote James Madison from Paris on January 12, 1789: "Everybody here is trying their hands at forming declarations of rights."(5) Jefferson, for his part, read and critiqued Lafayette's draft of what, on August 27, 1789, only a few weeks after the fall of the Bastille, became the French National Assembly's Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.(6) The French Declaration's indebtedness both to Rousseau's philosophy and to Philadelphia's practice has been widely acknowledged.(7) The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen recognized and proclaimed "in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights:"