“Claiming Rights”

Topics: Rights, United States Declaration of Independence, Civil and political rights Pages: 2 (755 words) Published: May 11, 2013
In what different ways does the idea of “rights” find expression in these documents? These documents show us that the idea of “rights” can be expressed in many manners, specifically to these three documents, “The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen” of 1789, from the French people as a National Assembly. Although number four on the list of the document being read, it is my belief that this point explains what the French are wanting. “Liberty consists in the ability to do whatever does not harm another; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no other limits than those which assure to other members of society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by the law.” (Strayer) “The Jamaica Letter” of 1815 by Simòn Bolívar although that same thought of equal or “natural” rights as in the French comes to mind, Bolívar and his people were caught between a rock and a hard place being born in America they were considered Americans sometimes of mixed breed with the rights of Europeans. “Europeans, but a race halfway between the legitimate owners of the land and Spanish usurpers—in short, being Americans by birth and endowed with rights from Europe.” (Strayer) But all these “Americans” wanted was to be left to be Americans, to be separate from Europe and to be left to live without Native persecution. Frederick Douglass’s “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July” of 1852 is a stronger and more deeply felt speech because this case of “rights” was not about “natural” or equal rights, it was not about wanting to be left alone but instead it was about freedom. Free to be a man, a woman, a human and not considered a property or commodity to barter, trade or sell. “To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality,...
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