Third Estate Grievances

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Third Estate

The Grievances of the Third Estate was the list of ideas that the cahier of the Third Estate sent to the Estates General on how the new Constitution should be drafted. It included the injustices on how the Third Estate was currently being treated, as well as ideas to restore their social standing and rights. The document begins by stating the people's loyalty to the King and then lists the Third Estate's wishes. Then they go on to tell him about each of the grievances of each of the groups of the Third Estate.

The first section calls for the peasants or working people of the Third Estate to be of equal status to all other citizens of any class. This included a unification of the three estates, with each contributing equally in all parts of the State. This meant the people of the Third Estate would no longer allow themselves to be treated unfairly.

The rest of the document is specifically divided into various areas of existing injustices the Third Estate were anguishing under. The final section of complaints was based on the citizens' rights to own property. The Bourgeoisie were rarely arrested or jailed, but the people wanted to be able to hunt game on their property at any time they chose as well as be allowed to remove any weeds or debris from their own land. Finally, the Third Estate wanted the militia to be formed voluntarily, so that those citizens who did not want to leave their jobs or families behind would not have to do so. They wanted the taxes on salt and animal skins to be eliminated, along with all of the useless and excessive offices, which nobles held for a number of reasons.

The next two sections of grievances were shorter, but they still included many key factors that would eventually lead to the equality of people in France. Also, the working people of the Third Estate wanted the military to allow them to serve thereby allowing access to the ranks of nobility equivalent. This would also gain them the stature of nobility. The letter called for the court system to be reformed, and for the study of law to be revised in a way that was fair to all citizens, not just those of noble decent. They also called for taxes on labor to be cut in half or more. The urban poor citizens called for import taxes on commodities to be a set price for the entire nation, no matter which estate an individual may belong to. In addition they wanted to have their own mills, winepresses, and ovens so they would not have to pay the lord outrageous fees to use his property. The only tax the Third Estate wanted to pay was on land or property. They wanted taxes to be determined by wealth, not class. The first had to do with the Third Estate's financial situation.

In conclusion numerous groups of the Third Estate were called to Versailles. The selected representatives, which where made up of mostly the bourgeoisie, addressed Louis XVI. The king allowed the "doubling of the third" but maintained the "vote by order". Over the next several years many different forms of government were set up but ultimately failed through out the rest of the revolution.