In 1789, on this day the de facto government of Revolutionary France, the National Constituent Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the Citizen, a statement of enlightenment principles co-authored by the Marquis de Lafayette and the Virginian émigreé radical Tom Jefferson.
Pursuit of LibertyThirteen years before, Jefferson had penned the United States Declaration of Independence. But a paragraph indicting Britain's role in the slave trade was deleted from the final version creating a contradiction between the claim that "all men are created equal" and the existence of American slavery. "If there be an object truly ridiculous in nature", English abolitionist Thomas Day wrote in a 1776 letter, "it is an American patriot, signing resolutions of independency with the one hand, and with the other brandishing a whip over his affrighted slaves".
"Rather it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated"Jefferson agreed, quitting Virginia to enjoy Parisian Society with his common law mixed race wife, Sally Hemings. They were soon to discover that the French were prosecuting their own revolution with a great deal more extremism, too much for Jefferson's own "personal taste for disorder and violence". Still, his vision for a French revolutionary occupation of England might yet rescue his former colleagues, because if there was one overarching principle Jefferson really believed in, it was that both revolutions were connected by the common pursuit of Liberty. It was a concept that Jefferson had brow-beaten Lafayette into codifying into the Declaration.