by E. J. Sieyes
Le Tiers Etat, 1789, posed the question “What is a nation?” stating that its essence was a single, collective body of people, living under a single common law, and represented by one legislature. This writing advanced the thoughts of Voltaire and the principles of democratic government so recently obtained in North America. In the monarchical, feudal government that was France at that time, there was the nobility, a privileged class that set itself apart from the great mass of the citizenry. The nobility isolated themselves from the people by their wealth, manipulating the government to their own ends, enacting provisions for their own benefit, and exempting themselves from those laws regulating the lives of the citizen. The wealthy, privileged nobility we called the Second Estate, owned the government and corrupted its processes to amass even greater wealth at the expense of the citizenry.