What is the Declaration of the Rights of Man?

   The Declaration of the Rights of Man is the bill of rights adopted by the French constituent assembly on Aug. 26, 1789. Its full name is the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. In 1791 it was made the preamble to the French constitution. The declaration was drafted by the assembly and was edited by a noted writer of revolutionary tracts, the Abbe Sieyes.
   The Declaration of the Rights of Man was based on the social and political theories of the French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, and expressed the aims of the American Declaration of Independence. The declaration asserts that men have "inalienable rights," including the rights to liberty, property, and resistance to oppression. It also guarantees the right to freedom of speech, religion, and the press. In the sixth of its 17 sections the declaration also sets forth Rousseau's idea that law is the expression of the general will of the people and that officials should submit to the collective will. In the 19th century the French bill of rights influenced the development of more democratic forms of government in Europe.