Although more of the French people. Now, more French

            Although the revolutionaries
struggled to transform the economy into an equitable system, by 1791 the French
government successfully reformed France politically and socially, creating a
government that largely worked to protect the natural rights of citizens,
accomplishing the initial goals of the Revolution.

            The revolutionaries created a
political system that fulfilled the initial intentions of the Revolution. The
most basic principle of the Revolution in 1789 was to have everyone treated
equally under the law, as all citizens had certain natural rights. The “Declaration
of the Rights of Man and Citizen” recognized that the “representatives of the French
people organized as a national assembly, considering that… scorn of the rights
of man is the sole cause of public misfortune” (Spielvogel). With these ideals
in mind, the revolutionaries set out to make a constitution that treated all
equal under the law.  The Constitution
did this through creating a Constitutional Monarchy, where all the actions of
the monarchy were to be examined by the Legislative Assembly.  This ensured that the king did not act above
the law. Under the Constitution, the law applied equally to everyone, the
peasants, the middle class, nobles, clergy, and even the king.  By creating a government that treated all
classes equally under the law, the 1791consitution fulfilled the intent of the

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            The Constitution of 1791 also
expanded the electoral process to more of the French people. Now, more French citizens
were able to have their voices heard in government.  These freedoms, however, did not spread to
everyone, only people who paid three days’ wages in taxes could vote.  This system, although “preserving power in
the wealthy” (Spielvogel, 574), was a major step in the right direction, as the
voting requirements were much more lenient than in other states.  Indeed, this expanded political process
allowed for over half the male population to vote (Popkin 47). As shown, the
1791 Constitution expanded voting rights, and although this did not affect
everybody, it was a major victory in fulfilling the intent of the 1789 Revolution.

            The Constitution of 1791 also successfully
dealt with social inequities within the French system. Other major concerns
during the 1789 rebellion were to create a fair social system for all men.  The revolutionaries worked to ensure
individual liberties, religious toleration, a meritocratic system, and abolishment
of social classes.  The Constitution recognized
all free of the press within France. Also, “by 1791 France had moved into a
vast reordering of the old regime” (Spielvogel, 587). This reordering of the
social ladder allowed for a more meritocratic system, where qualified people of
all classes were considered for positions of power.  The new constitution also expanded religious
toleration.  Protestants and Jewish
people were finally recognized to have equal political rights as everybody else.  This was a major advance because the government
recognized other religions as completely equal, and fulfilled the desire for a
meritocratic government system. Although there were major advancements socially
in the 1791 Constitution, the government also suppressed some religious groups,
such as the Catholics. All Priests were forced to sign the Civil Constitution
of the Clergy, where they would pledge their allegiance to the king over the
Pope.  This was antithetical to freedom
of religion, but it was ultimately necessary because the King needed to ensure
the loyalty of his subjects.  In reality,
this was entirely consistent with the revolution, because the law applied equally
to everyone, and the government could not allow citizens to be loyal to foreign
agents, neither could the clergy.  As
shown, the 1791 Constitution established a socially equitable system that
worked for the majority of men. 

            Although the 1791 Constitution
helped men socially it failed to address women’s rights.  This is a glaring deficiency in a
Constitution meant to promote equality, but it does not mean that it contradicted
het goals of the initial revolution.  In
the “Declaration of Man,” women were also ignored.  Although a deficiency, the 1791 Constitution’s
failure to recognized women’s rights was consistent with the original
revolution.  The Constitution also
expanded rights to minorities, taking the big steps towards equality by
abolishing slavery in all but the Caribbean colonies.  Also, the Constitution recognized free-blacks
as equal to whites, expanding liberties to all men, and fulfilling the goals of
the revolution. 

            Although the 1791 Constitution
successfully recognized political and social freedoms there was a failure to
effectively reform the economy. By 1791, the revolutionaries attempted to “abolish
various tolls, the country thus became more unified… encouraging commerce”
(Popkin, 47).   The Constitution attempted to catalyze the economy
by encouraging for trade within its borders. The new government also “abolished
the guilds to give all citizens equal access to all trades… consecrating
economic individualism” (Popkin, 47).  By
creating a fairer marketplace, the Constitution attempted to open up economic opportunities
to all citizens. Although these reforms attempted to spur economic growth, the
measures largely failed. This failure is attributable to the lack of national
bank, or any system of credit, massive inflation (which led the assignants to
lose 99% of their value, and massive tax evasion). Finally, the Constitution of
1791 put the equivalent of seigniorial dues back into practice.  This hurt the peasants as they attempted to
become economically self-sufficient. As shown, efforts by the government of
1791 to create an equitable economy failed. 

            Although the 1791 Constitution’s
attempts at economic reform failed, this failure was outweighed by the advances
in social and political rights. The main reason for the Declaration of the
Rights of Man was the failure of the government to recognize the natural rights
of the citizens.  The Constitution
successfully recognized these rights and expanded individual political rights,
fulfilling the intentions of the revolution. 


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