French Constitution of 1793

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Declaration of 21 September 1792
The National Convention declares:
1st, there cannot be any constitution except that which is accepted by the people;
2nd, that persons and property are under the safeguard of the nation.
Decree of 21–22 September 1792
The National Convention unanimously decrees that monarchy is abolished in France.
Declaration of 25 September 1792
The National Convention declares that the French Republic is one and indivisible.

Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.[edit]

The French people, convinced that forgetfulness and contempts of the natural rights of man are the sole causes of the miseries of the world, have resolved to set forth in a solemn declaration these sacred and inalienable rights, in order that all the citizens, being able to compare unceasingly the acts of the government with the aim of every social institution, may never allow themselves to be oppressed and debased by tyranny; and in order that the people may always have before their eyes the foundations of their liberty and their welfare, the magistrate the rule of his duties, the legislator the purpose of his commission.

In consequence, it proclaims in the presence of the supreme being the following declaration of the rights of man and citizen.

Article 1.
The aim of society is the common welfare.
Government is instituted in order to guarantee to man the enjoyment of his natural and imprescriptible rights.
Article 2.
These rights are equality, liberty, security, and property.
Article 3.
All men are equal by nature and before the law.
Article 4.
Law is the free and solemn expression of the general it is the same for all, whether it protects or punishes; it can command only what is just and useful to society; it can forbid only what is injurious to it.
Article 5.
All citizens are equally eligible to public employments. Free peoples know no other grounds for preference in their elections than virtue and talent.
Article 6.
Liberty is the power that belongs to man to do whatever is not injurious to the rights of others; it has nature for its principle, justice for its rule, law for its defence; its moral limit is in this maxim: Do not do to another that which you do not wish should be done to you.
Article 7.
The right to express one's thoughts and opinions by means of the press or in any other manner, the right to assemble peaceably, the free pursuit of religion, cannot be forbidden.
The necessity of enunciating these rights supposes either the presence or the fresh recollection of despotism.
Article 8.
Security consists in the protection afforded by society to each of its members for the preservation of his person, his rights, and his property.
Article 9.
The law ought to protect public and personal liberty against the oppression of those who govern.
Article 10.
No one ought to be accused, arrested, or detained except in the cases determined by law and according to the forms that it has prescribed. Any citizen summoned or seized by the authority of the law, ought to obey immediately; he makes himself guilty by resistance.
Article 11.
Any act done against man outside of the cases and without the forms that the law determines is arbitrary and tyrannical; the one against whom it may be intended to be executed by violence has the right to repel it by force.
Article 12.
Those who may incite, expedite, subscribe to, execute or cause to be executed arbitrary legal instruments are guilty and ought to be punished.
Article 13.
Every man being presumed innocent until he has been pronounced guilty, if it is thought indispensable to arrest him, all severity that may not be necessary to secure his person ought to be strictly repressed by law.
Article 14.
No one ought to be tried and punished except after having been heard or legally summoned, and except in virtue of a law promulgated prior to the offence. The law which would punish offences committed before it existed would be a tyranny: the retroactive effect given to the law would be a crime.
Article 15.
The law ought to impose only penalties that are strictly and obviously necessary: the punishments ought to be proportionate to the offence and useful to society.
Article 16.
The right of property is that which belongs to every citizen to enjoy, and to dispose at his pleasure of his goods, income, and of the fruits of his labor and his skill.
Article 17.
No kind of labor, tillage, or commerce can be forbidden to the skill of the citizens.
Article 18.
Every man can contract his services and his time, but he cannot sell himself nor be sold: his person is not an alienable property. The law knows of no such thing as the status of servant; there can exist only a contract for services and compensation between the man who works and the one who employs him.
Article 19.
No one can be deprived of the least portion of his property without his consent, unless a legally established public necessity requires it, and upon condition of a just and prior compensation.
Article 20.
No tax can be imposed except for the general advantage. All citizens have the right to participate in the establishment of taxes, to watch over the employment of them, and to cause an account of them to be rendered.
Article 21.
Public relief is a sacred debt. Society owes maintenance to unfortunate citizens, either in procuring work for them or in providing the means of existence for those who are unable to labor.
Article 22.
Education is needed by all. Society ought to favor with all its power the advancement of the public reason and to put education at the door of every citizen.
Article 23.
The social guarantee consists in the action of all to secure to each the enjoyment and the maintenance of his rights: this guarantee rests upon the national sovereignty.
Article 24.
It cannot exist if the limits of public functions are not clearly determined by law and if the responsibility of all the functionaries is not secured.
Article 25.
The sovereignty resides in the people; it is one and indivisible, imprescriptible, and inalienable.
Article 26.
No portion of the people can exercise the power of the entire people; but each section of the sovereign, in assembly, ought to enjoy the right to express its will with entire freedom.
Article 27.
Let any person who may usurp the sovereignty be instantly put to death by free men.
Article 28.
A people has always the right to review, to reform, and to alter its constitution. One generation cannot subject to its law the future generations.
Article 29.
Each citizen has an equal right to participate in the formation of the law and in the selection of his mandatories or his agents.
Article 30.
Public functions are necessarily temporary; they cannot be considered as distinctions or rewards, but as duties.
Article 31.
The offences of the representatives of the people and of its agents ought never to go unpunished. No one has the right to claim for himself more inviolability than other citizens.
Article 32.
The right to present petitions to the depositories of the public authority cannot in any case be forbidden, suspended, nor limited.
Article 33.
Resistance to oppression is the consequence of the other rights of man.
Article 34.
There is oppression against the social body when a single one of its members is oppressed: there is oppression against each member when the social body is oppressed.
Article 35.
When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.

Constitutional Act.[edit]

Of the Republic.[edit]

Article 1.
The French Republic is one and indivisible.

Of the Division of the People.[edit]

Article 2.
The French people is divided, for the exercise of its sovereignty, into cantonal primary assemblies.
Article 3.
It is divided for administration and for justice into departments, districts and municipalities.

Of the Conditions of Citizenship.[edit]

Article 4.
Every man born and living in France fully twenty-one years, of age;
Every foreigner fully twenty-one years of age, who, domiciled in France for a year,
Lives there by his own labor,
Or acquires property,
Or marries a French woman,
Or adopts a child,
Or supports an aged man,
Finally, every foreigner who shall be thought by the legislative body to have deserved well of humanity.
Is admitted to the exercise of the rights of French citizenship.
Article 5.
The exercise of the rights of citizenship is lost:
By naturalization in a foreign country
By the acceptance of employments or favors proceeding from a non-popular government;
By condemnation to ignominious or afflictive penalties until rehabilitation.
Article 6.
The exercise of the rights of citizenship is suspended
By the condition of accusation;
By a judicial order for contempt of court until the order is abrogated.

Of the Sovereignty of the People.[edit]

Article 7.
The sovereign people is the totality of French citizens.
Article 8.
It selects its deputies directly.
Article 9.
It delegates to electors the choice of administrators, the public arbitrators, crimmal judges, and judges of cassation.
Article 10.
It deliberates upon the laws.

Of the Primary Assemblies.[edit]

Article 11.
The primary assemblies are composed of the citizens domiciled for six months in each canton.
Article 12.
They are composed at the least of two hundred and at the most of six hundred citizens summoned to vote.
Article 13.
They are constituted by the selection of a president, secretaries and tellers.
Article 14.
Their policing belongs to themselves.
Article 15.
No one can appear in them with arms.
Article 16.
The elections are conducted by either secret or open voting at the choice of each voter.
Article 17.
A primary assembly cannot in any case prescribe a uniform method of voting.
Article 18.
The tellers attest the vote of citizens who, not knowing how to write, prefer to vote by ballot.
Article 19.
Votes upon the laws are given by yes or no.
Article 20.
The will of the primary assembly is proclaimed as follows: The citizens met in primary assembly. . .to the number of. . .voters, vote for or vote against, by a majority of. . .

Of the National Representation.[edit]

Article 21.
Population is the sole basis of the national representation.
Article 22.
There is one deputy for every forty thousand persons.
Article 23.
Each union of primary assemblies aggregating a population of thirty-nine to forty-one thousand souls selects directly one deputy.
Article 24.
The selection is made by the majority of the votes.
Article 25.
Each assembly counts the votes and sends a commissioner for the general recording to the place designated as the most central.
Article 26.
If the first return does not give a majority, a second appeal is made and a vote is taken upon the two citizens who have received the greatest number of votes.
Article 27.
In case of an equality of votes the most aged has the preference, either as the one to be voted upon or as the one elected. In case of an equality of age, lot decides.
Article 28.
Every Frenchman exercising the rights of citizenship is eligible throughout the extent of the Republic.
Article 29.
Each deputy belongs to the entire nation.
Article 30.
In case of the non-acceptance, resignation, forfeiture, or death of a deputy, his replacement is provided for by the primary assemblies which selected him.
Article 31.
A deputy who has resigned cannot leave his post until after the admittance of his successor.
Article 32.
The French people assembles every year on the first of May for the elections.
Article 33.
They proceed to them, whatever may be the number of citizens there having the right to vote.
Article 34.
The primary assemblies meet in extraordinary session upon the request of one-fifth of the citizens who have the right to vote there.
Article 35.
The summons is issued in that case by the municipality of the usual place of meeting.
Article 36.
These extraordinary assemblies transact business only if a half plus one of the citizens who have the right to vote there are present.

Of the Electoral Assemblies.[edit]

Article 37.
The citizens meet in primary assemblies and select one elector for every two hundred citizens, whether present or not; two for three hundred-one to four hundred; three for five hundred-one to six hundred.
Article 38.
The holding of electoral assemblies and the method of election are the same as in the primary assemblies.

Of the Legislative Body.[edit]

Article 39.
The legislative body is one, indivisible, and permanent.
Article 40.
The session is for one year.
Article 41.
It meets the first of July.
Article 42.
The National Assembly cannot constitute itself if it is not composed of at least one-half of the deputies plus one.
Article 43.
The deputies cannot be questioned, accused, or tried at any time for the opinions that they have expressed within the legislative body.
Article 44.
They can be arrested for criminal acts, if taken in the act; but the warrant of arrest and the warrant of apprehension can be issued against them only with the authorisation of the legislative body.

Holding of the Sittings of the Legislative Body.[edit]

Article 45.
The sittings of the National Assembly are public.
Article 46.
The minutes of its sittings are printed.
Article 47.
It cannot deliberate unless it is composed of at least two hundred members.
Article 48.
It cannot refuse the word to its members in the order that they have claimed it.
Article 49.
It decides by the majority of those present.
Article 50.
Fifty members have the right to require a vote by roll call.
Article 51.
It has the right of discipline upon the conduct of its members within its own midst.
Article 52.
The policing of the place of its sittings and of the environs of which it has fixed the extent belongs to it.

Of the Functions of the Legislative Body.[edit]

Article 53.
The legislative body proposes laws and issues decrees.
Article 54.
Included under the general name of law are the acts of the legislative body in regard to:
  • Civil and criminal legislation;
  • The general administration of the revenues and ordinary expenses of the Republic;
  • The national domains;
  • The title, weight, impress, and denomination of the monies The nature, amount, and collection of the taxes;
  • The declaration of war;
  • Every new general division of the French territory;
  • Public instruction;
  • Public honors to the memory of great men.
Article 55.
Included under the special name of decree are the acts of the legislative body in regard to:
  • The annual establishment of the land and sea forces;
  • Permission or prohibition of the passage of foreign troops over French soil;
  • The introduction of foreign naval forces into the ports of the Republic;
  • Measures of general security and tranquility;
  • The annual and occasional distribution of public relief and work;
  • Orders for the coining of money of every sort;
  • Unforeseen and extraordinary expenses;
  • The local and special measures for an administration, a commune, or a class of public work;
  • The defence of the soil;
  • Ratification of treaties;
  • The appointment and dismissal of commanders-in-chief of the armies;
  • Proceedings to enforce the responsibility of members of the council and of public officials;
  • Accusation of those accused of plots against the general security of the republic;
  • Every alteration in the division of French territory into parts;
  • National rewards.

Of the Formation of the Laws.[edit]

Article 56.
Projects of law are preceded by a report.
Article 57.
The discussion cannot begin and the law cannot be provisionally decreed until fifteen days after the report.
Article 58.
The project is printed and sent to all the communes of the Republic under this title: Proposed law.
Article 59.
Forty days after the sending of the proposed law, if in one-half of the departments plus one, a tenth of the regularly constituted primary assemblies of each of them do not object, the project is accepted and becomes law.
Article 60.
If there is objection, the legislative body convokes the primary assemblies.

Of the Title of the Laws and Decrees.[edit]

Article 61.
The laws, the decrees, the judicial orders, and all public acts are superscribed: In the name of the French people, the year. . .of the French Republic.

Of the Executive Council.[edit]

Article 62.
There is an executive council composed of twenty-four members.
Article 63.
The electoral assembly of each department selects a candidate. The legislative body chooses the members of the council from the general list.
Article 64.
It is renewed by a half at each legislature in the last month of its session.
Article 65.
The council is charged with the direction and supervision of the general administration; it can act only in the execution of the laws and decrees of the legislative body.
Article 66.
It appoints, from outside of its own body, the principal agents of the general administration of the Republic.
Article 67.
The legislative body determines the number and the duties of these agents.
Article 68.
These agents do not form a council; they are separate and are without direct relations with each other; they do not exercise any personal authority.
Article 69.
The council appoints, from outside its own body, the foreign agents of the Republic.
Article 70.
It negotiates the treaties.
Article 71.
The members of the council, in cases of betrayal of trust, are accused by the legislative body.
Article 72.
The council is responsible for the non-execution of the laws and decrees and for the abuses of which it does not give notice.
Article 73.
It recalls and replaces the agents within its appointment.
Article 74.
It is required to denounce them, if there is occasion, to the judicial authorities.

Of the Relations of the Executive Council with the Legislative Body.[edit]

Article 75.
The executive council resides near the legislative body; it has admittance and a separate position in the place of its meetings.
Article 76.
It is heard whenever it has a statement to make.
Article 77.
The legislative body summons it into its presence, in whole or in part, whenever it thinks expedient.

Of the Administrative and Municipal Bodies.[edit]

Article 78.
There is in each commune of the Republic a municipal administration;
In each district, an intermediate administration;
In each department, a central administration.
Article 79.
The municipal officers are elected by the communal assemblies.
Article 80.
The administrators are appointed by the department and district electoral assemblies.
Article 81.
The municipalities and the administrations are renewed each year by half.
Article 82.
The administrators and municipal officers have no representative character.
They cannot in any case alter the acts of the legislative body nor suspend the execution of them.
Article 83.
The legislative body fixes the duties of the municipal officers and the administrators, the rules of their subordination, and the penalties that they may incur.
Article 84.
The sittings of the municipalities and the administrations are public.

Of Civil Justice.[edit]

Article 85.
The code of civil and penal law is uniform for the whole Republic.
Article 86.
No attack can be made upon the right that the citizens have to cause their differences to be passed upon by arbitrators of their own choice.
Article 87.
The decision of these arbitrators is final, if citizens do not reserve the right to object.
Article 88.
There are justices of the peace elected by the citizens of the districts fixed by the law.
Article 89.
They conciliate and pass judgment without expense.
Article 90.
Their number and competency are regulated by the legislative body.
Article 91.
There are public arbitrators elected by the electoral assemblies.
Article 92.
Their number and their districts are fixed by the legislative body.
Article 93.
They have jurisdiction over cases which have not been finally terminated by the private arbitrators or by justices of the peace.
Article 94.
They deliberate in public.
They deliver their opinions orally.
They decide in the last resort, upon oral pleas or simple memorial, without proceedings and without expense.
They state the grounds for their decisions.
Article 95.
The justices of the peace and the public arbitrators are elected every year.

Of Criminal Justice.[edit]

Article 96.
No citizen can be tried upon a criminal charge except upon an accusation received by the jurors or decreed by the legislative body.
The accused have counsel chosen by themselves or officially appointed.
The examination is public.
The facts and the intent are declared by a trial jury.
The penalty is awarded by a criminal tribunal.
Article 97.
The criminal judges are elected every year by the electoral assemblies.

Of the Tribunal of Cassation.[edit]

Article 98.
There is a tribunal of cassation for the whole Republic.
Article 99.
This tribunal does not have jurisdiction over the facts of cases.
It passes upon the violation of forms and upon clear infractions of the law.
Article 100.
The members of this court are appointed every year by the electoral assemblies.

Of the Public Taxes.[edit]

Article 101.
No citizen is exempt from the honorable obligation to contribute to the public expenses.

Of the National Treasury.[edit]

Article 102.
The national treasury is the central point of the receipts and expenditures of the Republic.
Article 103.
It is administered by responsible agents appointed by the executive council.
Article 104.
These agents are watched over by commissioners appointed by the legislative body, taken from outside of itself, and responsible for the abuses of which they do not give notice.

Of the Book-Keeping.[edit]

Article 105.
The accounts of the agents of the national treasury and of the administrators of the public monies are rendered annually to responsible commissioners appointed by the executive council.
Article 106.
These auditors are watched over by commissioners appointed by the legislative body, taken from outside of itself, and responsible for the abuses and errors of which they do not give notice.
The legislative body approves the accounts. Of the Forces of the Republic.
Article 107.
The general force of the Republic is composed of the entire people.
Article 108.
The Republic supports, even in time of peace, a paid army and navy.
Article 109.
All Frenchmen are soldiers ; they are all trained in the handling of arms.
Article 110.
There is no commander-in-chief.
Article 111.
Distinctions of rank, their distinguishing marks and subordination exist only in relation to the service and during its continuance.
Article 112.
The public force employed for the maintenance of order and peace within the country acts only upon the written requisition of the constituted authorities.
Article 113.
The public force employed against enemies from abroad acts under the orders of the executive council.
Article 114.
No armed body can deliberate.

Of the National Conventions.[edit]

Article 115.
If, in one-half of the departments plus one, one-tenth of the regularly constituted primary assemblies of each of them request the revision of the constitutional act or the alteration of some of its articles, the legislative body is required to convoke all the primary assemblies of the Republic, in order to ascertain if there is occasion for a national convention.
Article 116.
The national convention is formed in the same manner as the legislatures and annexes the powers thereof.
Article 117.
It occupies itself, in relation to the constitution, only with the objects that have led to its convocation.

Of the Relations of the French Republic with Foreign Nations.[edit]

Article 118.
The French people is the friend and natural ally of the free peoples.
Article 119.
It does not interfere in the government of other nations; it does not permit other nations to interfere in its own.
Article 120.
It gives asylum to foreigners banished from their fatherland for the cause of liberty.
It refuses it to tyrants.
Article 121.
It does not make peace with an enemy that occupies its territory.

Of the Guaranty of Rights.[edit]

Article 122.
The constitution guarantees to all Frenchmen equality, liberty, security, property, the public debt, the free exercise of worship, a public education, public relief, unlimited freedom of the press, the right of petition, the right to meet in the popular societies, and the enjoyment of all the rights of man.
Article 123.
The French Republic honors loyalty, courage, old age, filial devotion, and misfortune. It places the trust of the constitution under the guardianship of all the virtues.
Article 124.
The declaration of rights and the constitutional act are graven upon tablets in the midst of the legislative body and in public places.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.