Uploaded by Jon Newland

Liberty Fraternite Egalite

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It is believed that Maximilien Robespierre was the first to use the phrase "liberty, equality,
fraternity" (liberté, equalité, fraternité) during a 1790 speech entitled "On the Organization
of the National Guard." He wanted these words to appear on the guards' uniforms and on
the tricolor flag of the nation, but his proposal was not accepted.
Later, the slogan was changed to "Unity, indivisibility of the Republic; liberty, equality,
brotherhood or death" by a resolution of the Paris Commune in 1793. The Commune
ordered the slogan to appear on all the house fronts in Paris, and the residents of other
cities also inscribed them on their house fronts. This phrase also appears in Dickens's novel,
A Tale of Two Cities, a literary account of the French Revolution. The meaning of this phrase
is that if one does not grant liberty, equality, or fraternity to others—one does not treat
others like they would treat their own brother—one will meet death. This phrase also
foreshadowed the 1793–1794 Reign of Terror. In this period political opponents of the
government were targeted and often executed.
However the roots of the phrase can be found earlier. In 1789, the French produced a
document that paved their path to the future. In the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the
importance of the principals of liberty, equality, and fraternity are evident throughout the
document. Liberty is defined as the condition of people who are able to act and speak
freely. Liberty is demonstrated when a government provides its citizens with important
freedoms. The Declaration of the Rights of Man provides for a fair justice system, freedom
of speech and freedom of religion. Liberty is referenced directly in Article 2 and 4
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.
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 law.
Equality means that all citizens are treated equally. The French wanted to eliminate the
special status for kings and the aristocracy. Equality is embedded throughout the document,
especially when it comes to how citizens are treated before the law. The notion of equality
was very important to the enlightened French and was documented in the first article.
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be
founded only upon the general good.
Fraternity means a feeling of friendship, unity and brotherhood. Words like “common”,
“general will” and “all” are used to strengthen this notion of fraternity. Articles 1, 6 and 13
embody the ideals of fraternity in this document.
1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be
founded only upon the general good.
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
talents.
13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for
the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens
in proportion to their means.
A sense of fraternity is felt when all members contribute. For this reason, the document lists
the duties expected of French citizens.
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
talents.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the
rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom,
but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.