The partition of Poland towards the close of the eighteenth century gave it a new impetus and endowed it with fresh sanctity. “Thenceforward,” says Acton, “there was a nation demanding to be united in a State, a soul, as it was wandering in search of a body in which to begin life over again.”
The French Revolution and Napoleon brought the people in the forefront in several European countries who reacted to their impact by developing a consciousness of nationalism.
The new type of State, thus, emerged. The old concept of the State was replaced by the State based on bonds of nationality strengthened by national boundaries. The nation- States began their careers as absolute monarchies. But the people soon began to challenge the absolute authority of Kings.
They demanded their rights and privileges and claimed that power ultimately belonged to them. The French Revolution gave a fillip to their aspirations and reinforced their struggle for wresting power from Kings who had proclaimed themselves as the vice-regents of God in defence of their right to rule and justify the exercise of their unlimited authority.
The Rights of Man drawn up by the French Revolutionaries in 1789 heralded the dawn of democracy as it rested on the two pillars of equality and popular sovereignty joining them with nationality.
Ever since 1789 these principles had been at work emancipating and elevating the hitherto un free and downtrodden orders of society and removing civil, religious and race disabilities from the disqualified people of the State.
These principles not only made the people the ultimate source of authority, but inspired them to claim their right, if they felt that they were one and distinct from others, freedom to choose their own government and manage their own affairs in their own way.