French and American constitution-makers exercised strong, mutual influences upon one another during this time.
f108 Like their American counterparts, the French were preparing to
abandon an ancient feudal system in favor of a newer, republican one, and they were faced with similar issues
of intergenerational equity. Jefferson's friend (and America's ally) the Marquis de LaFayette, submitted a proposed
Declaration of Rights to the French National Assembly on July 11, 1789 which would have recognized "le
droit des générations qui se succèdent", including the right to periodic constitutional
reform. f109 The view that property rights - especially rights in land -- must
be limited to some extent in favor of future generations was explored at great length in the French National
Assembly's committee report on feudal rights. f110
Closer to home, the American founders could find an example of institutionalized intergenerational concern in the constitution of the Iroquois Nation. The Iroquois philosophy and political model profoundly influenced such American founders as Benjamin Franklin. f111 Their constitution provided (and still provides) that:
"In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations." f112
To review: there was a pervasive sense of intergenerational obligation in late 18th century America and Europe.
Like Plato and the Old Testament prophets before them, the founders believed strongly in the intergenerational
community. While their sense of obligation often expressed itself, as in most of the examples above, as a mere
generalized interest in posterity's well-being, at other times intergenerational philosophy took the form of
careful political analysis. We now turn our attention to some of the more methodical analyses and applications