By the 18th century the third estate became aware of their oppression through various sources. These sources include the Influence of philosophers and the Echoes of the American war of independence. Goodwin states, the aim of the French philosophers, of the eighteenth century, was to liberate mankind from the fitter of ignorance and from subservience of outmoded practices. D. Richard further illustrated that philosophers such as, Rousseau, Voltaire, Monesquieu and the encyclopedias have contributed to the uprising of the third estate, within the revolution.
In fact, Voltaire’s, influence within the revolution was mainly directed towards the corrupt government, ecclesiastical bigotry, censorship and cruel and arbitrary penal systems at the church. D. Richards further stated “he poured scorn on the pretensions of the church and folly of the government and the credibility of those who are taken by both. ” His cry for injustice and brave actions, allowed him to receive tremendous gratitude from the third estate. As a matter a fact, Voltaire was the most influential philosopher within the revolution to challenge.
Rousseau also influenced the third estate. Rousseau preached the equality of man, he later attacked justice “Men though born free are every where in chains”, and even in the government he said. Rousseau according to A. Goodwin claimed that the only legitimate state was one that expressed the “General will” (the will of the people as a whole) which is inspired by good motives and directed only in the common interest. His contract social (social contract) of 1762 envisaged free men guaranteeing each other natural rights.
Historians have concluded that Rousseau, inspired the people emotionally, preparing them to retaliate. Another radical, Montesquieu inspired the third estate within ideas. His aim mainly was to focus on various parts of parlements and it’s unfair implications, towards the third estate. Alongside, the three philosophes mentioned above. Diderot and the encyclopedias also contributed to the influence of the revolution. He, like Voltaire, preached the injustice of the church practices and government. He criticized the heavy burden of taxation upon the third estate.
He suggested that the intolerable acts of taxation be abolished with the exception of land tax, which was chiefly paid by the clergy and nobles for Diderot and the encyclopedias the common good was supreme law and government therefore the general happiness of society. Besides the philosophes, the physiocrates played a vital role in the usurpation of the revolution . A. Goodwin also noted that, the physiocrates, led by Rivere, supported freedom of contract, and specifically demanded scientific government to replace the irrationality of privileged.
They virtually offered the governing class an opportunity for reform by asking it to exchange privileged for merit. Goodwin stated, although the philosophies embodied bourgeoisie values and ideas, it is extremely doubtful whether they would by themselves produce the upheaval to which their process of rational thought inevitably led. Nevertheless, these ideas developed in men a restless ambition, which prevented them from remaining content with their allotted stations in life.
However, besides, the influence of the philosophes was the American war of independence (1776), which acted as a stimulus for the declaration of rights for men. F. Macdoral stated, the American declaration of independence asserted, “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights”, that the aim of all political association is to preserve the natural and imprescriptible rights of man, and that these rights are liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression.
Fraternity, Liberty and Equality, were the oaths French soldiers bore on their breastplate after returning from the American war of independence. The oath France was to discover and use. The influence of the American war proved to the third estate, that, they too will, overcome their oppression, there usurped a revolution that became inevitable.
Moreover, the influence of the enlightenment and American Revolution made the Third Estate aware of its oppression, especially the peasants, who carried the bulk of the burdens upon its back. Nevertheless with the help of philosophies and the echoes off the American war of independence, they were able to become more aware of their struggle economically. An influence that usurped the reaction to the oppression of the third estate that sparked the beginning of the French revolution. french revolution:peasants becoming oppressed.