Rights of Man, Declaration of the, the charter of liberty adopted by the National Constituent Assembly of France in August, 1789, when the French Revolution was in its early stage. The declaration affirmed that all men have equal and inalienable rights and that the purpose of government is to preserve those rights. It listed the rights as “liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression." Liberty was defined as “the power to do anything that does not injure others." The declaration guaranteed protection from arbitrary arrest and the assent of the people to taxation. It endorsed free communication of ideas, but with the provision that this freedom was subject to legal restrictions against abuse.
The Marquis de Lafayette, inspired by the Declaration of Independence of the American Revolution, in which he had fought, was one of the authors of the French document. The declaration was made a part of the French constitution of 1791 and influenced later constitutions of France and of other nations. It reflected the writings of John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau, and was a classic statement of 18th-century liberalism.