European Enlightenment and the United States Constitution
Political theorist of the European Enlightenment Era raised many questions about freedom of speech and religion, women’s rights, children ruling governments, taxes, oppressive governments, and various rights of a free man. Political theorist such as Edmund Burke, Olympe de Gouge, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and Condorcet wrote literary works of art that posed questions which later became very important topics to the framers of the United States Constitution. In addition, The English Bill of Rights 1789 and the Decree of National Assembly Abolishing the Feudal System, 11 August 1789, also were heavily weighted in the decisions of ...view middle of the document...
The Decree of National Assembly Abolishing the Feudal System, 11 August 1789, sections VII and XI advises that Offices sale of Judicial and Municipal offices is prohibited. In 1771, Louis the XV succeed in dismantling parliament into courts. Under his rule the seats were neither purchased nor passed on to heirs. (Making of the West page 578) Moreover, Maximilien Robespierre addressed the same issue when he wrote ‘On the Principles of Political Morality, February 1794. He advised that the succession of leadership should be by talent.
Robespierre also encouraged “liberty and equality”(6) amongst all people. He persuades that by deeming all men equal it will “strengthen the principles”(6) on which the government rests”. We see this principle addressed in Amendment 13- Slavery Abolished, Amendment 14- Citizenship Rights and Amendment 15- Race No Bar to Vote. These articles explain the rights of every citizen of the United States.
Unfortunately the rights described in those three articles did not reach every citizen of the United States. Women were denied the same rights that freed slaves were entitled to. Olympe de Gouge wrote ‘Declaration of the Rights of Women,1791’ that addressed the issues of the inequality of women’s rights to that of men. Declaration of the Rights of Women gives a strong assertion that the rights of womens should and must be equal to that of men. The Constitution’s Amendment 19 – Women’s Suffrage directly provides women equal rights which are described in Amendments 13 thru 15.
The main reason that America was created was so that the people could freely practice religion. Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights advises that no law will be made that will restrict a citizens freedom of religion, speech and/or press. This amendment is very important to the existence of a free land. We can view Voltaire’s ‘A Treatise on Toleration’ in support of this amendment. Voltaire is in full support of free religion. He advises that we learn from other religions and superstitions and that each should be respected in their own rights because religion and superstitions help to keep people in the order of humane laws.
The topic of free religion brings us to another major point, separation of church and state that is explained by Jean Jacques Rousseau in ‘The Social Contract’. Rousseau advises that the state should have no interests in the religion of the people. Morality should be taught in religion and left up to...