The French Revolution and Rights of Man

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The French Revolution was an event that sparked the passions of writers around the world. Every writer had an opinion to impart. Most writers adopted either liberal or conservative views towards the matter. There were very few, if any, moderate pieces written. Richard Price and Edmund Burke were known for their support of the American Revolution as well as their vast differences of opinion towards the French Revolution. Richard Price religiously supports the Revolution, while Edmund Burke traditionally opposes it. The two differed greatly on their views towards the importance of government, its relationship to larger issues plaguing the country, and the existence of natural rights.

In Richard Price’s A Discourse on the Love of our Country, he argued that affection towards our government does not justify ignoring the problems with it. He placed the universal “rights of men” at an importance higher than anything else. As a minister, he begins this work by thanking God for the Revolution. The French Revolution represented a chance for France to undergo the same positive changes that England had gone through; changes that may not be achieved under more conservative conditions (Price). As a result of the bloodless Glorious Revolution of 1688, England had achieved: 1.) the right to choose their governors, 2.) the right to chastise them for misconduct, and 3.) the right to frame their own government (Kreis). These changes were necessary in order to establish the natural rights of man. Even with the increasing brutality of the French Revolution, Price supported the cause because he believed it worthwhile to lose the positive elements of the monarchy (tradition, faith, and authority) as the cost of ridding the country of its negative elements (oppression and poverty). Price’s thoughts and ideas were considered liberal for this time period, even though they were for the benefit of society as a whole, rather than favoring one class over another.

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