In 1788, faced with a financial crisis, King Louis XVI of France called the Estates-General into session for the first time in over 170 years. The traditional representative body of France, the Estates-General consisted of representatives of the church, the nobility, and the people. When the Estates-General convened in 1789, the representatives of the Third Estate (the people) defied the king and declared themselves the National Assembly of France. As one of its first acts, the Assembly approved a declaration of rights that was to serve as the basis of a constitution. The Declaration appears here in Thomas Paine’s translation, included in his book The Rights of Man (see selection 3.15).