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Enlightenment-Inspired Documents

Comparing the U.S. Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration on the Rights of Man and Citizen

One similarity between the United States Declaration of Independence (1776) and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (1789) is the fact that both of these documents recognize the crucial role of freedom and equality for the citizens. Thus, the Declaration of Independence proclaims that “all men are created equal,” while stressing that this notion must be self-evident (The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration para. 3). However, after reading both documents, it is clear that they were written for different reasons: the U.S. Declaration served as a proclamation of separation from Great Britain, while the French Declaration merely outlined the rights each citizen was bound to have.

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Summary of the Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation (1863) was written by Abraham Lincoln and served as an official Presidential order to free slaves. Not all the slaves were freed, but only the ones in 10 states. Lincoln was regarded to have no authority to free slaves in the states controlled by the Union, which was why the Proclamation applied to rebellious states only.

Different Examples of “Freedom”

Three examples of freedom discussed in the third episode of The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross were freedom from slavery, political rights, as well as educational opportunities. After Emancipation, African American kids were granted an opportunity to receive free public education, with many schools being founded by former slaves. Moreover, the Emancipation Proclamation laid the ground for the participation of the formerly enslaved group in electoral politics of the nation (The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross: Into the Fire (1861-1896)).

Works Cited

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross: Into the Fire (1861-1896), Episode 3. Directed by Jamila Wignot, PBS, 2014.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. “Declaration of Independence: A Transcription.” Archives, 1776, Web.

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