|Bastille Day is a National holiday in France. It is very much
like Independence Day in the United States because it is a celebration of
the beginning of a new form of government.
At one time in France, kings and queens ruled. Many people were very
angry with the decisions made by the kings and queens.
The Bastille was a prison in France that the kings and queens often
used to lock up the people that did not agree with their decisions. To
many, it was a symbol of all the bad things done by the kings and queens.
So, on July 14, 1789, a large number of French citizens gathered together
and stormed the Bastille.
Just as the people in the United States celebrate the signing of the
Declaration of Independence as the beginning of the American Revolution,
so the people in France celebrate the storming of the Bastille as the
beginning of the French Revolution. Both Revolutions brought great
changes. Kings and queens no longer rule. The people rule themselves and
make their own decisions.
The representatives of the French people, organized
as a National Assembly, believed that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt
of the rights of man were the sole cause of public calamities and of
the corruption of governments.
As a result, they determined to set
forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights
of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the
members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights
and duties. Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in
the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following
rights of man and of the citizen:
1 Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions
may be founded only upon the general good.
2 The aim of all political association is the preservation of the
natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty,
property, security, and resistance to oppression.
3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation.
No body nor individual may exercise any authoritywhich does not proceed
directly from the nation.
4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no
one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no
limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the
enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by
5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful
to society.Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no
one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right
to participate personally, or through his representative, in its
foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes.
All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to
all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to
their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and
7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the
cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting,
transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order,
shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the
law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an