Girondin Constitution

by Alex Sparrow

I have been curious about the attempts of revolutionaries of the Enlightenment to formulate a democracy in a modern nation-state. Democratic projects since the Enlightenment, beginning in the early nineteenth century, began to mimic either the American or British systems of government, while the very term “democracy” was undergoing a semantic transformation. Thus I looked to the Enlightenment, when people actually used the word in the way that most human beings used the term. Enlightenment democrats had the problem of applying genuine democratic principles to large national territories. The US Constitution, as interesting and innovative as it is, does not count as a democratic project, by the admission of its own crafters. However, the French Revolution affords us a look at what a modern democratic project looks like. After the king was found trying to escape France to help foreign armies destroy his own country, the French revolutionaries began to think seriously about how to create a democratic republic. The National Convention was formed to replace its only recently established constitutional monarchy, which in turn commissioned a constitutional committee to write a draft constitution. Its members included the Marquis de Condorcet, the great mathematician, and Thomas Paine, international revolutionist. The document they and others drafted became known as the “Girondin Constitution.”

I could not find this document in English in nearby libraries or online, but I did find it in the original French here. I am not a professional translator, but I think I, and a bunch of online translators, did a pretty good job (online translators are hilarious, by the way). My translation is attached at the bottom of the post, and will permanently reside in my profile. I have tried to hew closely to the original, but many phrases that sound nice in French become clunky in English. I replaced many words in the French with their equivalents in English, even where we might use the French. For example, in English we might call a French legislative proposal a projet de loi, or we might translate it literally as a “law project,” but for clarity’s sake I translated the phrase into the Anglo-American equivalent, “bill.” Where I have altered significant wording into another form that means the same thing, I have added an endnote. The translation no doubt has flaws, so I hope that readers out there might compare the original online text with my translation and offer improvements.

I further intend to append a commentary on the draft constitution, discussing its provisions title by title, in an extended and periodic series. The draft opens with a now standard declaration of rights, but is notable for its attention to expressly establishing the sovereignty of the people. France is divided into communes (municipalities) which are grouped into departments, much as it is today, and these are administered by elected bodies I translated as “administrative organs.” Citizenship is given to all adult men, without any property qualifications, which is remarkable for the time. The Republic would have but a single elected legislative chamber, making the document more democratic than most modern states with their ridiculous insistence on some sort of upper house. The Republic would also have had an independent judiciary, an independent treasury, and independent auditing system. The French people were expected to be the whole of the military – a national militia, in other words, which is a standard but forgotten requirement of democracy.

All of this may not seem so surprising anymore, but the document did have some innovations. For one, instead of following the presidential system of the US, which basically provides for an elected monarch, the executive branch was a council directly elected by the people. For another, the people could introduce a bill to the Legislature, and, if rejected, could demand a new legislature; this portends the later demand for the power of recalling legislators and other public officers, still unmet in most of the world. But the democratic centerpiece of the document is the primary assemblies, the citizenry gathered into forums of 450 to 900 people. These assemblies did all the work that the people did directly, where citizens would discuss and demand legislation, elect legislators and officers, dissolve the Legislature, etc. In the draft constitution, they were referred to as the means of directly exercising the people’s power, and were so important they were the first institution to be described.

Unfortunately, the National Convention was focused on practical problems of war and economic disaster, and the draft was introduced but never voted on. Thomas Paine thought that the document was too long and technical, and recommended against it, even though he was one of its authors. He was surely right, though. One can see the extensive descriptions of electoral methods and parliamentary procedures, among other articles, that could just as easily been handled by subsequent legislation. The Convention eventually adopted a similar constitution in 1793, but significantly shorter, and with inexplicable alterations. Perhaps if readers appreciate the Girondin series, I’ll talk about that one. Of course, that constitution never took force, as a conservative reaction swept away the Revolution and enacted an oligarchic republic.

Translated by Alex Sparrow,

From the original text at the webpage of Jean-Pierre Maury, Doctor of Political Science at the University of Perpignan

Draft Constitution Presented to the National Convention on the 15th and 16th of February, 1793, Year II of the Republic (Girondin Constitution)

Table of Contents:

Declaration of the Natural, Civil, and Political Rights of Men

Title I – The Division of the Territory

Title II – The Status of Citizens, and the Necessary Conditions for the Exercise of Rights

Title III – The Primary Assemblies

Title IV – The Administrative Organs

Title V – The Executive Council of the Republic

Title VI – The National Treasury and the Bureau of Accounts

Title VII – The Legislature

Title VIII – The Censure by the People of the Acts of the National Representation and the Right of Petition

Title IX – The National Convention

Title X – The Administration of Justice

Title XI – The Public Force

Title XII – Taxation

Title XIII and Last – The Relations of the French Republic with Foreign Nations, and Its External Relations

Declaration of the Natural, Civil, and Political Rights of Men

The purposes of any union of men in society are the assertion of their natural, civil and political rights, and these rights are the foundation of social alliance: their recognition and their statement must precede the Constitution which assures their guarantee.

Article I

The natural, civil and political rights of men are Freedom, Equality, Security, Property, Social Security, and Resistance to Oppression.

Article II

Freedom consists in being able to do all that does not infringe on the rights of other people; thus the limits of the natural rights of every man are only those that assure other members of the society the enjoyment of these same rights.

Article III

The preservation of freedom depends on submission to the law, which is the expression of the general will. All conduct that is not restricted by law cannot be restricted, and no one can be forced to do what the law does not order.

Article IV

Every man is free to express his thoughts and opinions.

Article V

The freedom of the press and all other means of publishing opinions, may not be prohibited, suspended nor restricted.

Article VI

Every Citizen is free in the exercise of his worship.

Article VII

Equality consists in the fact that each can enjoy the same rights.

Article VIII

The law must be equal for all, either because it rewards or because it punishes, either because it protects or because it suppresses.

Article IX

All Citizens have access to all positions, jobs, and public services. The free People know no other motives in their choices than talents and virtues.

Article X

Security consists in the protection granted by society to every Citizen, for the preservation of his person, of his property and of his rights.

Article XI

No one may be summoned to appear in court, accused, stopped or detained but in cases determined by law, and according to procedures that it prescribes. Any other act exercised against a Citizen is arbitrary.

Article XII

Those who would solicit, send, sign for, or carry out these arbitrary acts, are guilty and must be punished.

Article XIII

The Citizens against whom they would try to carry out the same acts have the right of resistance; but every Citizen called for or seized by the force of law, and by procedures prescribed thereby, must obey immediately; he makes himself culpable by resistance.

Article XIV

Every man is presumed innocent until found guilty; if it is deemed necessary to arrest him, any disciplinary action[i] that is not needed to secure his person must be severely punished by law.

Article XV

No one may be punished except by a law established or issued prior to offence, and legally applied.

Article XVI

A law that punishes offenses prior to the existence of the law would be an arbitrary act; the retroactive application of the law is a crime.

Article XVII

The law must award only those penalties necessary for general safety. Penalties must be proportionate to offences, and useful to society.

Article XVIII

The right of possession consists of the fact that every man is the master of his property, his capital, his income, and his industry.

Article XIX

No type of job, trade, or culture, may be forbidden to him; he may produce, sell, and transport any kind of product.

Article XX

Every man may engage his services and his time; but he may not sell himself into slavery, as his person is not an alienable property.

Article XXI

No one may be deprived of the slightest part of his property without his consent, insofar as public necessity, legally determined, demands it, and under the condition of fair and prior indemnification.

Article XXII

No tax[ii] may be established if it is not for general utility, and to meet public needs. All Citizens have the right to participate personally, or through their Representatives, in the establishment of taxes.

Article XXIII

Basic education is needed by all, and society owes it to all its members.

Article XXIV

Public assistance is a sacred debt of society; and the law shall determine its extent and application.

Article XXV

The social guarantee of rights rests upon national sovereignty.

Article XXVI

Sovereignty is one, indivisible, indefeasible, and inalienable.

Article XXVII

Sovereignty resides in the whole People, and every Citizen has an equal right to contribute to its exercise.

Article XXVIII

No partial association of Citizens and no individual may possess sovereignty, exercise any authority, or fill any office without a definite deputation by law.

Article XXIX

Social security cannot exist where the limits of public services are not clearly determined by law, or where the responsibility of all public officers is not guaranteed.

Article XXX

All Citizens are required to contribute to this guarantee, and to give force to law when they are called in its name.

Article XXXI

Men united in society must have a lawful means to resist oppression.

Article XXXII

There is oppression when a law violates the natural, civil, and political rights that it must guarantee.

There is oppression when law is violated by public officers in its application to particulars.

There is oppression when arbitrary acts violate the rights of Citizens against the expression of law.

In any free government, the mode of resistance to these different acts of oppression must be regulated by the Constitution.

Article XXXIII

People always have the right to review, reform, and change their Constitution. One generation does not have the right to subject future generations to its laws; and any heredity in offices is absurd and tyrannical.


[i]“discipline” or “severity”

[ii] “contribution”

Title I: The Division of the Territory

Article I

The French Republic is one and indivisible.

Article II

The territory is distributed among eighty-five departments.

Article III

The borders of the departments may be changed or rectified at the request of the constituents; but in that case the area of the department will not be able to exceed four hundred leagues.

Article IV

Every department will be divided into large communes, the communes into local sections and primary assemblies.

Article V

This distribution of the territory of every department into large communes will be made so that there can be no more than two and a half leagues from the most distant house to the center of the seat of the commune.

Article VI

The districts of the local sections will not be the same as that of the primary assemblies.

Article VII

There will be in every commune an administration subordinated to the administration of the department, and in every section a secondary agency.

Title II – The Status of Citizens, and the Necessary Conditions for the Exercise of Rights

Article I

Every man achieving the age of twenty-one years, who has been entered into the civil registry of a primary assembly, and who has since resided, for one year continuously, on French territory, is a Citizen of the Republic.

Article II

French citizenship is lost by naturalization in a foreign country and by the penalty of the loss of civil rights.

Article III

Every Citizen who has fulfilled the conditions of the first article is able to exercise his right of suffrage in that part of the Republic where he can demonstrate an actual residence of three months continuously.

Article IV

No one can exercise his right of suffrage in more than one primary assembly.

Article V

There will be two reasons for the inability to exercise the right of suffrage: first, imbecility or insanity, determined by a judgment; second, lawful condemnation, the penalty of which is the loss of civil rights.

Article VI

Every Citizen who has resided six years outside of the Republic without a mission given in the name of the Nation may resume the right of suffrage only after an uninterrupted residence of six months.

Article VII

Every Citizen, who, without having had a mission, has gone away for one year from the place in which he habitually domiciles, must keep a residence of three months once again, before being allowed to vote in the primary assemblies.

Article VIII

The Legislature[i] will determine the penalty which will be incurred by those who exercise the right of suffrage in all cases where the law or Constitution prohibits.

Article IX

French citizenship and being twenty-five years of age are the only necessary conditions for eligibility in all offices of the Republic.

In whatever place a French Citizen resides, he can be elected in any place and in any department, even if he would be deprived of the right of suffrage for failing residence.


[i] I have rendered the French term, Corps legislatif, or in English, “Legislative Body,” as the less awkward “Legislature.”

Title III – The Primary Assemblies

Section I: Organization of the Primary Assemblies

Article I

The primary assemblies, where Frenchmen exercise their rights, will be distributed in every department, and their divisions will be regulated so that none of them has less than four hundred and fifty members, or more than nine hundred.

Article II

Every primary assembly will keep a civil registry of all its members.

Article III

This registry having been formed in every primary assembly, they will proceed to nominate a committee composed of one member for fifty Citizens in the assembly.

Article IV

This election will be a single vote with the winner chosen by a simple plurality. Every voter will choose two persons on his ballot, regardless of the number of members needed to form the committee.

Article V

In the case where, by the result of these first polls, the election of the members of the committee would be incomplete, a new vote will supplement it.

Article VI

The oldest person will chair the assembly during this first election.

Article VII

Functions of the members of the committee will be:

  1. To keep the registry of the Citizens;
  2. To inscribe on this registry, between the convocation of assemblies, those who are accepted as Citizens;
  3. To give to those who want to change residence a certificate of their citizenship;
  4. To call the primary assembly in cases determined by the Constitution;
  5. To request, on behalf of the assembly, the administration of the department, or the committees of the primary assemblies of the commune, the right of censure.

Article VIII

The committee members will be announced following the order of the plurality of votes that each has achieved. The first will serve as president and the three members that will come after him will serve as secretaries, and the rest of the committee, as recorders, in the absence of some of them. Any alternates will be in the same order.

Article IX

The new convocation of a primary assembly may undertake no new act until the committee is renewed. Any act previous to this renewal is declared void; the Citizens who composed the previous committee may however be reelected.

Article X

The committee will not be renewed when the sessions of the primary assembly are simply deferred and continued, and the purpose for which it has been called has not been completed.

Article XI

No one will be eligible to vote in a primary assembly in whose registry he is not listed, if he did not introduce to the committee, eight days before the opening of the Assembly, the certificates that determine his right. The previous committee will give an account of it in the assembly to decide if the Citizen fulfilled the conditions demanded by the Constitution.

Section II: Functions of the Primary Assemblies

Article I

French Citizens will meet in primary assemblies to vote in elections determined by the Constitution.

Article II

French Citizens also meet in primary assemblies to discuss items of concern to the whole Republic, such as:

  1. Accepting or rejecting a draft Constitution or any change in the current Constitution;
  2. Proposing a convocation of a National Convention;
  3. Expressing the will of the People, when the Legislature asks a question that interests the entire Republic;
  4. Finally, requesting the Legislature to take into consideration an item, vetoing the acts of the representatives, or censuring the Legislature by the People, according to the manner and rules fixed by the Constitution.

Article III

Elections and deliberations of the primary assemblies, which do not comply in their nature, object, or fashion, to rules prescribed by constitutional law, will be void and have no effect.

Section III: General Rules for the Elections in the Primary Assemblies

Article I

Elections will be made by means of two polls, in which the first will be simply preparatory and is only for forming a list of candidates; the second, comprising only the candidates inscribed on the list of candidacy, will be final and used for election.

Article II

For the nominating polls, as soon as the assembly has been convened, the acknowledged members, the established committee, and the purpose of convocation announced, every voter will submit to the committee a printed ballot on which they will inscribe his name in the margin.

Article III

Polls will be opened simultaneously, and closed only in the session of the following day at four o’clock. Every Citizen will write on his ballot a number of names equal to that of the positions to be elected and will deposit it in the office.

Article IV

In the session of the second day at four o’clock, the committee will carry out the count and polling, by reading aloud the name of each voter and the names inscribed on their ballots.

Article V

All these procedures will be performed publicly.

Article VI

The result of the polls of every primary assembly, completed and proclaimed by the committee, will be sent to the seat of the department, where the election results of every primary assembly will be made publicly by the administrators.

Article VII

The list of candidates will be formed of those who have acquired the most votes in number in triple the number of places to be filled.

Article VIII

If there is a tie, the oldest candidate will be preferred; and if there is only one place to be filled on the list, the oldest candidate will stand alone.

Article IX

The general count of the results of the polls made by the primary assemblies will begin the eighth day after that indicated for the opening of the election; and the polls of the primary assemblies submitted to the administration of the department after this time will not be accepted.

Article X

The list of candidates will be finalized immediately after the election results of the primary assemblies. The administration of the department will be required to print and publish the list without delay: it will only be considered a simple project, and will contain:

  1. The list of the candidates who acquired the most votes, in triple the number of places to be filled;
  2. An equal number of alternates from among those who receive the most votes after the candidates, and always following the order of the plurality of votes.

Article XI

In the fifteen days after the publication of this first list, the administration of the department will accept the statement of those who, having been listed as among the candidates or the alternates, declare that they will or will not accept [nomination]. On the fifteenth day the list will be finalized, replacing those candidates who will have refused nomination, first by those who will be included among the alternates, and then by those who have received the most votes, always following the order of the plurality of votes.

Article XII

The list of candidacy[i] having been finalized and reduced to triple the number of deputies to be elected, will be sent without delay by the administration of the department to the primary assemblies; the administration will indicate the day the primary assemblies will carry out the last polls of election; but under no pretext will this term be extended beyond the second Sunday after the conclusion of the nominating polls.

Article XIII

The assembly being convened for the second and last polls, each voter will receive from the office a ballot with two columns divided into as many boxes as there are subjects to be named. One of these columns will be labeled: “first column of election;” the other, “additional column.”

Article XIV

Each voter will inscribe or have inscribed on the first column the names of as many individuals as there are offices to be elected, and then on the additional column a number of names equal to the inscriptions in the first column. This ballot will not be signed.

Article XV

The votes may be only for those individuals inscribed on the list of candidacy.

Article XVI

In every primary assembly the votes will be tallied from the “first column of election” and from the “additional column.”

Article XVII

These results will be sent to the seat of the department, and will be accepted there until the eighth day after the date indicated for the opening of the second poll.

Article XVIII

The administration of the department will publicly undertake the general count of election results sent by the primary assemblies. The administration will take a count of, first, the number of votes given to every candidate in the first columns of election, and then, separately, in the additional columns.

Article XIX

If the number of votes carried on the first column gives absolute majority to nobody, the sum of votes that each candidate has acquired in both columns will be tallied; and the nomination of all persons to be elected, as well as of alternates, will be determined by the order of plurality.

Article XX

If one or more candidates obtain an absolute majority of votes carried on the first column, the election will be closed, and the total votes of both columns will be used for candidates who do not obtain an absolute majority in the first count, and for vacancies remaining after the first count.

Article XXI

The alternates will be, first, those who, on the first column, in the case of an absolute majority, will have the largest number of votes after the persons elected; then, those who, after the persons elected, have the most votes of both columns, even if they have acquired only a plurality.

Article XXII

The same procedure will be followed for elections to a single office; but in that case:

  1. During the polls of candidacy, each voter will write only one name on his ballot;
  2. The list of candidacy formed according to these polls will contain the name of thirteen candidates and of so many alternates, until it is reduced to thirteen and finalized in accordance with articles 10 and 11.
  3. During the election every voter will inscribe, or have inscribed, the name of the individual that he prefers in the first column, and in the additional column the name of six other individuals.
  4. If, during the general count of votes in the first column, one of the candidates obtains an absolute majority, he will be elected. If nobody acquires an absolute majority, the votes in favor of each candidate in both columns will be combined: the one who has acquired the most votes from it will be elected; and the six candidates with the most votes after him, will be his alternates in the order of plurality.

Article XXIII

During the last count of votes, ballots given to Citizens who are not registered on the list of candidacy, as well as those ballots which do not contain the number of demanded votes on every column, will be cancelled.

Article XXIV

The same Citizen will be able to be listed at the same time on several lists of candidacy for different places.

Article XXV

There is however incompatibility between all public offices. No Citizen will be able to accept a new office without abandoning, for the fact of his acceptance, the one that he practiced before.

Section IV

The Internal Administration[ii] of the Primary Assemblies

Article I

The internal administration of the primary assembly belongs primarily and exclusively to the assembly itself.

Article II

The strongest penalty that a primary assembly can pronounce against one of its members after the call to order and censure will be exclusion from the session.

Article III

In case of assault, serious excesses, or offences made in the chamber, the president will be able, with the permission of the assembly, to issue warrants of arrest against the accused, and announce them before an officer charged with public safety.

Article IV

Citizens may not bring arms to the primary assemblies.

Section V

Procedures for Deliberation in the Primary Assemblies

Article I

The Assembly having convened, the President will introduce the subject of deliberation, reduced to a simple question answerable by “yes” or “no”; at the end of the session, the Assembly will adjourn for a week to carry out its decision.

Article II

During the adjournment, the place where the primary Assembly meets will be open every day to Citizens to discuss the subject put to their deliberation.

Article III

The chamber will also be opened every Sunday of the year to the Citizens who want to meet there; and the committee will make one of its members read to the Citizens the different acts of the constituted authorities, addressed in the primary assemblies, and who will be responsible for supporting order and peace in these particular meetings and these general conferences of Citizens.

Article IV

When the Assembly is convened on the appointed day to give its decision, the president will remind it of the subject of deliberation once again, and display the question that they must answer by “yes” or “no”; the committee will place in the room a placard with the question to be resolved and on two columns the words “yes” and “no,” with a clear explanation of what each of these votes would entail.

Article V

Each voter will write on a ballot “yes” or “no”. He will sign it, or it will be signed by one of the members of the committee on his behalf, before depositing it in the ballot box.

Article VI

The poll will be closed in the evening session of the second day at four o’clock; during this time every Citizen will be free to come and vote during the session that is best for him.

Article VII

The counting of ballots will be done aloud; the members of the committee who are counting the votes will announce the name of each voter at the same time as his vote.

Article VIII

When all the primary assemblies of a single department discuss the same subject, the result of the vote of every assembly, by “yes” or “no”, will be sent to the administration of the department, where the general result will be determined in the time and according to procedures prescribed for elections.

Article IX

When all the primary assemblies of the Republic have been called to discuss the same subject, the general result of the votes of the Citizens of every department will be sent by every administration, within fifteen days, to the Legislature, which will observe and publish, in the same period, the general result of the votes of the Citizens.

Article X

Acts in which the procedures above prescribed were not observed are void.

Article XI

The primary assemblies will be the judges of the validity or invalidity of the votes which have been given in their midst.

Article XII

The administrations of the department will decide on the invalidity resulting from the violation of the procedures above prescribed for the various acts of the primary assemblies, when they have held elections local and particular to their department, with the responsibility to send their orders to the Executive Council, which will be required to confirm or revoke them, and excepting any appeal to the Legislative Body.

Article XIII

When the primary assemblies deliberate on subjects of general interest, or if they hold elections for the members of the Legislature, or of public officers who belong to the whole Republic, the administrations of the departments will only be able to address their observations to the Legislature on the invalidity of the various acts of the primary assemblies, and the Legislature will pronounce definitively on their validity.


[i]“list of presentation”, as in the candidates being presented for election

[ii] The French term police did not originally refer to law enforcement officers specifically, which did not come into being as we know them until the nineteenth century, but rather to “administration,” “regulation,” or generally some sort of order-keeping.

Title IV – The Administrative Organs

Section I

The Organization and the Functions of the Administrative Organs

Article I

There will be an administrative council in every department; in every commune, a communal or municipal administration, and in every section of a commune, an agency subordinated to the municipality.

Article II

The administrative council of the department will be composed of eighteen members.

Article III

Four of them will form the directory.

Article IV

The administration of every commune will be composed of twelve members and a mayor who will be the president.

Article V

The secondary agency of each section will be entrusted to a single Citizen, who may have assistants.

Article VI

The meeting of the secondary agents of every section, with the local administration, will form the general council of the commune.

Article VII

The administration of the commune will be subordinated to that of the department.

Article VIII

The organization of municipalities and their agencies in sections, the particular functions to be allocated to them, and the mode of their election by the Citizens convened in the assemblies of the sections, will be determined by a particular law independent of the Constitution.

Article IX

The Citizens of every commune, assembled in their sections, may discuss only the subjects which interest particularly their section or their commune; they may under no circumstances administer themselves.

Article X

The directors of the departments are primarily responsible for the allocation of direct taxes, monitoring the proceeds of all public revenues in their territory, examining the accounts of the communal administrations, and discussing requests made in the interests of their department.

Article XI

Administrators in all quarters of the Republic must be considered to be the deputies of the national government for all that relates to the execution of the laws and to the general administration, and as the particular officers of the Citizens living in their territory for all that relates only to their particular and local interests.

Article XII

Under the first of these relations, they are principally subordinated to the orders and supervision of the Executive Council.

Article XIII

The Legislature will determine, by particular laws, rules, and procedures, all parts of the administration entrusted to them.

Article XIV

They may not interfere under any circumstances in the general administration, entrusted by the government to particular officers, such as the administration of land and naval forces, regulation of establishments, arsenals, magazines, ports and related structures, except that supervision that may be allocated to them on some of these subjects, but whose extent and manner will be determined by law.

Article XV

The Executive Council will, in each administration of the departments, choose from among the members who are not directors a national commissioner who will be responsible for corresponding with the Executive Council and for supervising and authorizing the execution of laws: the functions of this national commissioner will cease when he ceases to be a member of the administration.

Article XVI

The sessions of the administrative organs will be public.

Article XVII

The directors of the departments have the authority to cancel the actions of their deputies, if such acts are contrary to the law.

Article XVIII

They may also, in the case of the persistent disobedience of their deputies, or when these deputies compromise public safety and peace, suspend them from their functions, and notify the Executive Council of the suspension without delay, which is required to remove or confirm the suspension.

Article XIX

The directors may under no circumstances suspend the execution of the laws, nor modify or supplement them with new provisions, nor obstruct the course of justice and the manner of its administration.

Article XX

There will be in every department a treasurer, corresponding with the National Treasury, and under him a cashier and a paymaster. This treasurer will be appointed by the administrative council of the department, and the cashier and the paymaster selected by him, provided the same council will agree.

Article XXI

The members of the administrations cannot be put on trial for offenses relating to their offices, but by virtue of a resolution of the directory of the department for the administrators subordinate to it, and by the national council for the members of the administrations of departments, except by appeal, in all cases, to the superior authority of the Legislature.

Section II

The Procedure for Election of the Administrations of Departments

Article I

The election of the administrators of the departments will be immediately made by the Citizens in each department convened in their primary assemblies, and according to the procedures prescribed in the third Section of the third Title.

Article II

In case of vacancy by death, resignation, or refusal to accept [nomination] in the interval which will pass between [candidacy and] elections, the Citizen elected will be replaced with one of his alternates, following the order of the plurality of votes.

Article III

Half of the members of the administrative organs will be renewed every other year, three months after the date fixed for the election of the Legislature.

Article IV

The two administrators with the most votes after each election will be members of the directory.

Title V – The Executive Council of the Republic

Section I

The Organization of the Executive Council of the Republic

Article I

The Executive Council of the Republic will be composed of seven ministers and a secretary.

Article II

There will be: a Minister of Legislation; a Minister of War; a Minister of Foreign Affairs; a Minister of the Navy; a Minister of Finance[i]; a Minister of Agriculture, Commerce, and Manufacturing; and a Minister of Relief, Public Works, and the Arts.

Article III

The Executive Council will be presided over by each minister alternating, and the president will be changed every fifteen days.

Article IV

The Executive Council is responsible for implementing and enforcing all laws and decrees passed by the Legislature.

Article V

The Executive Council is responsible for the dispatch of laws and decrees to the administration and the courts, to certify their receipt, and to give proof of it to the Legislature.

Article VI

It is expressly forbidden to the Council to modify, elaborate, or interpret the provisions of laws and decrees, whatever the pretext might be.

Article VII

All officers of administration and government in all its parts are essentially subordinate to the Executive Council, but the administration of justice is only subject to its supervision.

Article VIII

It is expressly responsible for annulling the acts of administrators that are contrary to the law, or that could compromise public peace or the security of the State.

Article IX

It may suspend from office members of administrative organs, but must provide an account of it without delay to the Legislature.

Article X

In case of malfeasance on the part of the administrators, it must report them to the Legislature, which will decide if they will be put on trial.

Article XI

The Executive Council has the right to remove, to recall, or to replace the civil and military officers it has appointed, or by the administrators subordinate to it, and in case of offence on their part, to order their prosecution in the appropriate court.

Article XII

The Council is responsible for reporting to the censors judicial acts and rulings in which judges have exceeded the limits of their power.

Article XIII

The administration and examination of the army and navy, and in general all that concerns the external defense of the State, are delegated to the Executive Council.

The Council is responsible for raising the number of soldiers determined annually by the Legislature, to regulate their operations, to distribute them throughout the Republic, to provide arms, equipment, and subsistence, to make all contracts necessary for this object, and to choose officers to assist in enforcing the laws on military promotions and laws or regulations for the discipline of armies.

Article XIV

The Executive Council will issue the certificates or commissions to the public officers who require them.

Article XV

The Executive Council is responsible for drawing up the list of the national rewards to which Citizens are entitled according to the law. This list will be introduced in the Legislature, which will be decided at the opening of every session.

Article XVI

All affairs will be treated in Council, and it will keep a register of its decisions.

Article XVII

Each minister will then act in his [ministerial] department in compliance with the orders of the Council, and will use all the means of execution to the detail he considers most appropriate.

Article XVIII

The establishment of the National Treasury is independent of the Executive Council.

Article XIX

The general orders of payment will be decided in Council, and given in its name.

Article XX

Particular orders will then be sent by each minister in his [ministerial] department, under his signature only, and by relating the order of Council and the law which has authorized each type of expenditure.

Article XXI

No minister in office, or out of office, can be criminally prosecuted for his acts of administration, without a decree of the Legislature ordering a trial.

Article XXII

The Legislature will have the right to decide the trial of one or more members of the Executive Council in a session convened for this purpose.

Article XXIII

It will report on the facts, and the trial will begin only after the indicted member has been heard.

Article XXIV

In deciding the trial, the Legislature will determine whether to pursue a simple removal or impeachment[ii].

Article XXV

In case the Legislature decides to pursue a simple removal, it will draft, within three days, a resolution of the unqualified facts.

Article XXVI

A National Jury will be convened within a week; it will then pronounce on the unqualified facts: if there is, or is not, a reason for removal; and the Court, according to the statement of the Jury, will pronounce the removal of the member of the Council, or return him to his office.

Article XXVII

If the Legislature decides to pursue impeachment, the report on which the decree has been issued, and the parts which will have served as its basis, will be delivered to the National Prosecutor within twenty-four hours, and the National Jury of Accusation will be convened in the same period.

Article XXVIII

In all cases, whether for simple removal or impeachment, the decree of impeachment against a member of the Executive Council will suspend his office until the pronouncement of judgment; and during the investigation, he will be replaced with an alternate chosen by lot in Council.

Article XXIX

The Legislature, in pronouncing the trial of a member of the Executive Council, will be able to order, if it considers it proper, that he be detained in sight.

Article XXX

The decrees of the Legislature on the trial of a member of the Executive Council will be made by signed ballots, and the result of the votes will be printed and published.

Article XXXI

The removal of a member of the Council will take place for cases of incapacity or serious negligence.

Article XXXII

In case of death, resignation, or refusal to accept office, the members of the Executive Council will be replaced with their alternates, in the order of their registration.

Article XXXIII

In case of illness, and after the approval of the Council, they may temporarily call to their office one of their alternates, of their choice.

Section II

The Electoral Procedure for the Executive Council

Article I

The election of the members of the Executive Council will be immediately performed by all Citizens of the Republic in their primary Assemblies.

Article II

Each member of the Council will be nominated by a separate ballot.

Article III

For the ballot of candidacy, every voter will indicate on his ballot the Citizen whom he believes the most capable.

Article IV

The result of the polls of every primary assembly will be sent to the administration of the department where inventory will be made in the manner and time prescribed by Section III of Title III.

Article V

Once the count is completed, the administration of the department will publish the name of the thirteen candidates who have acquired the most votes, provided that they have received at least one hundred.

Article VI

It will make an alternative list of the eight candidates who have acquired the most votes, after the first thirteen: these two lists will enumerate the number of votes that each has gathered.

Article VII

The lists from departments which do not contain the thirteen candidates having acquired more than one hundred votes, will remain incomplete, but will remain valid.

Article VIII

These lists will be presented to the Legislature within eight days; it will print and send the lists to all departments.

Article IX

A month after the publication of the lists of every department, the Legislature will form a general and final list of candidacy in the following manner.

Article X

It will remove from the list of every department the candidates who have declared themselves unable or unwilling to accept nomination, and it will replace them with candidates taken in the alternative list of their department, according to the order of their registration.

Article XI

It will then compose the final list of candidacy of the candidates who have been nominated by many departments, and by an equal number of departments, by the largest number of individual votes.

Article XII

The final list of candidacy for each seat of the Council will be composed of thirteen candidates.

Article XIII

The primary assemblies will be convoked by the Legislature for elections, three weeks after the publication of this list.

Article XIV

Each voter will have on his ballot two columns, namely, first, the candidate that he prefers, and second, the six candidates whom he considers the worthiest after him.

Article XV

The count of the election results of the primary assemblies of every department will be made by the administration of the department, printed, published and sent, within a week, to the Legislature.

Article XVI

Within fifteen days after that date, the Legislature will proclaim the general result of the polls of the departments.

Article XVII

The candidate who obtains an absolute majority by the general count of the individual votes written in the first column will be elected. If none of the candidates acquires this majority, the votes of both columns will be added together: the one who has acquired the greatest number of such votes will be elected.

Article XVIII

A list of alternates will be composed from the six candidates who have the most votes after the elected Citizen.

Article XIX

The general provisions of the elections, expressed in the third Section of the third Title, will be applicable to all particular cases which are not foreseen in the previous articles.

Article XX

The members of the Council will be elected for two years: half will be renewed every year; but they may be reelected.

Article XXI

The primary assemblies will meet every year on the first Sunday of January for election of the members of the Council and all elections will take place at the same time and in the same sessions for all seats of the Council, although by a separate ballot for each.

Article XXII

After the first election, the four members of the Council who will be renewed first will be chosen by lot; and the three Members who have not been chosen, will be renewed, as well as the Secretary, in the following election.

Section III

The Relation of the Executive Council to the Legislature

Article I

The Executive Council is required, at the opening of the session of the Legislature, to submit an annual survey of expenditures for every part of the administration, and an account of the sums intended for the previous year; it is responsible for indicating abuses by the government.

Article II

The Executive Council may propose to the Legislature to take into consideration subjects that would appear to it to require quick deliberation: the Council may however under no circumstances offer its opinion on legal measures, except by express invitation of the Legislature.

Article III

If, in between sessions of the Legislature, the interest of the Republic demands its prompt meeting, the Executive Council will be required to convene it.

Article IV

Correspondence between the Legislature and the Executive Council will be signed by the President of the Council and the Secretary.

Article V

The members of the Executive Council will be accepted into the chamber of the Legislature, when they have memoranda to be read or elucidation to be given. They will have a place reserved there.

Article VI

The Legislature may call a member of the Council to give an account regarding his administration, and to give explanations and instructions if they are needed.


[i]“public contributions,” or “taxation,” but governments do not usually have a “taxation ministry”

[ii] “forfeiture” which I infer from the context to be identical to the Anglo-American practice of impeachment

Title VI – The National Treasury and the Bureau of Accounts

The Treasurers will be responsible for monitoring the receipt of all national funds, to order the payment of all public expenditures, to keep an account of expenditures and revenues with all the tax collectors and paymasters who keep accounts with the National Treasury, and to maintain with the treasurers of departments and administrations the necessary correspondence to assure the precise and regular receipts of funds.

Article V

They may pay nothing, on pain of impeachment, but,

  1. By decree of the Legislature, as only those funds determined for specific purposes;
  2. According to a decision of the Executive Council;
  3. By the signature of the Minister of any [ministerial] department.

Article VI

They also may not, on pain of impeachment, order payment, if the order of expenditure signed by the Minister of the [ministerial] department with which this type of expense is concerned, does not state the date of the decision of the Executive Council, and the decrees of the Legislature that ordered the payment.

Article VII

There will be three National Auditors[i] elected in the same way, at the same time, and according to the procedure prescribed for the National Treasurers.

Article VIII

They will also be elected for three years; one of them will be renewed every year, and they will also have two alternates.

Article IX

The Auditors will be responsible for delivering, at times fixed by law, the accounts of the various accountants, supported by documentary evidence, and to audit these accounts.

Article X

The Legislature will compose a list of two hundred jurors annually for this purpose.

Article XI

For the audit of each account, there will be listed a jury of twenty one persons, among whom the Auditor [the original text mentions “Culprit”[ii]] may challenge seven, and the Executive Council seven others.

Article XII

If challenges do not reduce the number of the jury to seven, the seven unchallenged jurors will be chosen by lot.

Article XIII

One of the Auditors will be responsible for presenting documents to each jury, to make any observations that he judges proper, and to give all necessary orders to render it capable of making its decision.


[i]“commissioners of the National Accounts”

[ii] As the French for “accountant” or “auditor” is le Comptable, and the word for “culprit” is le Coupable, this may have been merely some sort of dictation error.

Title VII – The Legislature

Section I
The Organization of the Legislature, and the Manner of Elections of its Members

Article I

The Legislature is one; it will be composed of a single chamber, and renewed annually.

Article II

The members of the Legislature will be elected by the Citizens in every department, convened in primary assemblies, in forms and according to the procedure prescribed by the third section of the third title.

Article III

The primary assemblies will meet annually for this purpose on the first Sunday of May.

Article IV

The only basis for the number of Deputies each department sends to the Legislature will be population, at the rate of one Deputy for every fifty thousand persons. The number of alternates will be equal to that of Deputies.

Article V

A department will receive another Deputy when it exceeds this number by twenty thousand persons, but not before.

Article VI

Every ten years the Legislature will announce the number of Deputies which each department must provide, according to the census of its population by envoys sent each year; but in this time no changes may be made to the national representation.

Article VII

The Deputies of every department will meet the first Monday of July, in the place that will have been indicated by a decree of the previous Legislature, or in the place of its previous sessions, if it did not indicate another one.

Article VIII

If during the first fifteen days more than two hundred members are not assembled, they may pass no legislative acts, but they will enjoin the absent members to take their seats without delay.

Article IX

During this period sessions will be held under the presidency of the oldest member; and, in the case of an urgent necessity, the assembly will be able to pass measures of general safety, the execution of which may only be temporary, and which will end after a period of fifteen days, unless these measures are confirmed by a new deliberation of the Legislature after its final constitution.

Article X

Members who have not taken their seats after a month will be replaced by an alternate.

Article XI

At the end of the first fifteen days, whatever number of Deputies have assembled, or when more than two hundred members have assembled, all having provided their credentials, will compose the National Legislative Assembly; and, when the Assembly has been organized by the election of a President and its Secretaries, it will begin the exercise of its functions.

Article XII

The offices of the President and Secretaries will be temporary, and cannot exceed one month.

Article XIII

The members of the Legislature may not be investigated, charged, or tried for what they have said or written in the exercise of their office.

Article XIV

They may be seized for criminal acts in flagrante delicto; but notice must be given without delay to the Legislature, and prosecution may proceed only after the Legislature decides that a trial is necessary.

Article XV

Except in cases in flagrante delicto, members of the Legislature cannot be brought before magistrates, nor be placed under arrest until the Legislature has ruled for a trial.

Section II

The Functions of the Legislature

Article I

To the Legislature alone belongs the full exercise of legislative power.

Article II

Constitutional law is alone excluded from the provision of the previous article.

Article III

Acts of the Legislature are divided into two classes: laws and decrees.

Article IV

The first are distinguished by being general and indefinite in nature, and the second by having a local or particular application, and must be renewed after a certain period.

Article V

Included as law are all acts: concerning civil, criminal, and administrative legislation;

The general regulations on national domains and establishments;

On the various branches of general administration and public revenues;

On public officers;

On the title, weight, imprint and names of currencies;

On the nature and distribution of taxes, and the penalties necessary to provide for their collection.

Article VI

Included under the name of decrees are acts of the Legislature concerning:

The annual establishment of land and naval forces;

The permission or defense of the passage of foreign troops on French territory and the introduction of foreign naval forces in the harbors of the Republic;

The annual budget of public expenditure;

The proportion of direct taxation and the rate of indirect taxation;

Urgent precautions for safety and peace;

The annual and momentary distribution of assistance and public works;

All extraordinary and unforeseen expenses;

Orders for the coinage of currencies of all kinds;

Particular and local measures for a department, a commune, or any other type of work, such as the construction of a highway, the opening of a channel, etc;

Declarations of war, ratification of treaties, and everything that relates to foreigners;

The exercise of the responsibility of the members of the Council, public officers, and the prosecution or trial of defendants accused of conspiracies or attacks against the general safety of the Republic;

The internal discipline of the legislative assembly;

The mustering of the armed forces.

Article VII

Extraordinary measures for general safety and public order may not stand for more than six months, and their execution will cease after this time, if they are not renewed by a new decree.

Section III

Holding Sessions and the Passage of Laws

Article I

The deliberations of the Legislature will be public and minutes of its meetings will be printed.

Article II

Laws and decrees will be passed by an absolute majority of votes.

Article III

Debate may only open upon a written agenda.

Article IV

The only exceptions to this article relate to the administration of the Assembly, the order and progress of deliberation, and the resolutions that have no relation to legislation and the general administration of the Republic.

Article V

Laws or decrees may not be returned until after two deliberations, the first of which will determine only the admission of the bill[i] and its reference to further consideration; the second will determine whether to adopt or reject it.

Article VI

The draft of a law or a decree will be submitted to the President by the member who introduces it: this will be read, and if the Assembly does not adopt the previous question on a simple reading, it will be printed and distributed, and may not be debated until eight days after distribution, unless the Assembly shortens this interval.

Article VII

The bill, after substantive discussion on amendments and additional sections, can be rejected, deferred, or accepted.

Article VIII

In the case that the bill is accepted, it will be returned to a committee for review, which will be held as set out below.

Article IX

The committee will be required to make its report within two weeks and will have the option to shorten this period as it deems appropriate.

Article X

It may present either the same bill or a new bill on the same subject, but if it is a new bill, or articles have been added to those already admitted, the new bill may only be discussed eight days after the distribution and printing of the new proposals.

Article XI

The assembly may still give priority to the first draft previously presented to the committee, if it thinks fit.

Article XII

Any new proposal, additional article, or draft decree can be passed and enacted after having been admitted and referred to the committee, and after a new report has been issued, as prescribed by the preceding articles.

Article XIII

The Legislature may, when it believes it useful to the public good, shorten the time limits set by Articles IX and X, but this discussion may only be taken by ballot and a majority of votes.

Article XIV

If the urgency has passed, the Legislature will fix the day of deliberation, or will order the session undertaken forthwith.

Article XV

The title of the law or decree will certify that these formalities have been fulfilled by the following formula:

Proposed,

Accepted and Referred to the Committee,

Reported and Discussed,

According to the Constitution or Under Urgent Deliberation,

Article XVI

All laws or decrees which have been passed without those formalities having been fulfilled shall not have the force of law, and may not be executed.

Section IV

The Formation of Committees

Article I

A committee of thirteen members will be formed every month in the Legislature, which will make a report on all drafts of laws or decrees that have been accepted and returned.

Article II

The members of the committee will be elected by a double ballot of candidacy and election.

Article III

The list of nominees will be of twenty-six names.

Article IV

The election will be by ballot in one column, and each member of the assembly will write on his ballot the thirteen candidates he prefers, and the election will be determined by the plurality of votes.

Article V

Members who have been elected to the committee will not be eligible for reelection during the same Legislature.

Article VI

Every committee will be responsible for reports on bills that have been admitted in the month of the committee’s formation.


[i] I have rendered the French, projet de loi, or “projects of law” or “law projects,” as the English equivalent, “bill.”

Title VIII – The Censure by the People of the Acts of the National Representation and the Right of Petition

Article I

When a Citizen thinks it necessary or useful to urge the attention of the People’s Representatives to constitutional law, to legislation, or to general administration, to provoke the reform of existing law or the promulgation of new law, he has the right to require the executive committee of his primary assembly to convene for the deliberation of his proposal on the next Sunday.

Article II

The act of petition will present this proposal reduced to its simplest terms.

Article III

The petition, to have its effect, must have the approval and signature of fifty Citizens residing in the district of the same primary assembly.

Article IV

The committee to which the petition is addressed will check the registry of the members of the primary assembly, and if the signatories of the petition are entitled to vote, the committee is obliged to convene the assembly the following Sunday.

Article V

The day that the assembly is convened, the president will read the proposal: the discussion will be opened at that moment, and may be continued during the week, but the decision must be postponed to next Sunday.

Article VI

On the appointed day, the vote will be opened by “yes” or “no” on the question: “is there or is there no need to deliberate?”

Article VII

If the voting majority believes that there is need for deliberation, the executive committee is required to demand the convening of primary assemblies whose towns are located in the district of the same commune, in order to deliberate on the purpose stated in the petition.

Article VIII

The executive committee will be required to attach to his request a summary of the deliberations of his assembly, and one collated copy of the Citizen’s petition that provoked the discussion.

Article IX

On the petition, the members of the executive committees of the primary assemblies will be addressed, and their assemblies will convene in a timely manner, and send the results to the executive committee that initiated the request.

Article X

If the majority of voters in the primary assemblies of the commune believe it is necessary to deliberate on the proposal, the executive committee will send to the administration of the department the minutes of its proceedings and general outcome of the votes for the primary assemblies of the commune that has participated: simultaneously it will require the administration to convene the primary assemblies of the department, to deliberate on the same proposal.

Article XI

The general convocation may not be refused: it will take place after fifteen days, the primary assemblies will deliberate in the same manner, and will send the results of their deliberations to the administration of the department.

Article XII

The general count will be made public, and the result will be published and posted in the places of the primary assemblies of the department.

Article XIII

If the majority of primary assemblies decides that it is necessary to deliberate, the administration of the department will send the Legislature the outcome of their deliberations, with the text of the proposal they have adopted and the request that they take this subject into consideration.

Article XIV

This petition will be printed immediately, distributed to all members, posted in the interior of the chamber, and returned to committee to make their report within a week.

Article XV

After the report of the committee, the discussion on the proposed question will be opened. It will be continued and adjourned for eight days; the vote on whether there is a need for deliberation or not on this proposal will be held no later than the following fifteen days.

Article XVI

The vote on this issue will be by signed ballot, and the result of the voting rolls will be printed and sent to all departments.

Article XVII

If the majority decides in the affirmative, the Legislature will return the adopted proposal to the committee, in order that they submit a draft decree in a period of time not to exceed fifteen days.

Article XVIII

The draft of the decree will then be put to a discussion, rejected or accepted, and in the case of the latter, returned to the committee following the general rules prescribed for the passage of laws.

Article XIX

If the majority rejects the proposal, stating that there is no need to deliberate, the result of the votes will be sent to all departments. In all cases, whether the Legislature accepted or rejected the proposal, the deliberation on the previous question will be substantiated and sent to all departments.

Article XX

If the revocation of the decree pronounced on the previous question, or the law that had been made on the merits of the previous proposal, is demanded by the primary assemblies of another department, the Legislature is required to convoke all the primary assemblies of the Republic to deliberate on this proposal.

Article XXI

The issue will be simplified and posed in the decree, as follows:

Is there to be a deliberation or not, on the revocation of the decree of the Legislature, dated…, that has admitted or rejected the following proposal: ….

Article XXII

If it is decided by majority vote in the primary assemblies that it is necessary to deliberate on the revocation of the decree, the Legislature will be renewed, and the members who voted for the decree may not be reelected, or nominated for membership in the Legislature for the duration of one term of the Legislature.

Article XXIII

The provisions of the preceding article regarding the members who voted for the decree will not occur if the censure is not exercised, and the revocation is requested one year after the passage of the decree or law.

Article XXIV

If in the interval between the issuance of the decree and the issuance of the general will of the primary assemblies there was a new election of the Legislature, and if members who voted for the decree were reelected, they must yield their seats to their alternates immediately after the general will demands the revocation of the decree.

Article XXV

If the Legislature is renewed under Article XXII, the annual renewal will only be early. The new Legislature will end at the time that the Legislature is replaced, and will renew itself with the annual elections determined by law.

Article XXVI

After renewal, the new Legislature, in the fifteen days following its assembly for deliberation, will be required to submit for discussion the issue of revocation of the decree according to the procedures prescribed by Articles XV, XVI, and following, and its decision on this subject will also be subject to the right of censure.

Article XXVII

All laws, and in general all acts of legislation contrary to the Constitution, will be subjected to the exercise of the right of censure.

Article XXVIII

Decrees and acts of simple administration, deliberation on local and partial interests, the supervision and administration of public officers, and measures of general safety are excluded when they have not been renewed.

Article XXIX

The provisional execution of the law will always be practiced.

Article XXX

The Legislature may, whenever it deems it proper, consult the wishes of the Citizens convened in their primary assemblies on matters of interest to the entire Republic. These issues will be posed such that the response may be a simple alternative, “yes” or “no”.

Article XXXI

Regardless of the exercise of the right of censure, Citizens have the right to petition the constituted authorities for their private interests.

Article XXXII

In the exercise of this right, they are only subject to the progressive order established by the Constitution between the diverse constituted authorities.

Article XXXIII

Citizens also have the right to introduce the impeachment of public officers for the abuse of power and violation of the law.

Title IX – The National Convention

Article I

A National Convention shall be convened whenever the Constitution must be reformed, its sections changed or modified, or provisions added.

Article II

The Legislature shall be responsible for this convocation when it has been deemed necessary by the majority of the Citizens of the Republic: it will select the city where the Convention will hold its sessions, but it will always be fifty leagues from the city where the Legislature sits.

Article III

The Convention and the Legislature have the right to change the place of their meetings, but the distance of more than fifty leagues will always be observed.

Article IV

In the twentieth year after the adoption of the Constitution, the Legislature will be required to hold a Convention to revise and improve the Constitution.

Article V

Every Citizen has the right to call for a Convention to reform the Constitution, but this right is subject to the procedures and rules for exercising the right of censure.

Article VI

If the majority of voters in the primary assemblies of one department demands the convocation of a National Convention, the Legislature is required to consult all Citizens of the Republic convened in their primary assemblies, and if the majority of voters affirms, the Convention will be held without delay.

Article VII

The Legislature may also, whenever it deems necessary, propose the convening of a National Convention, but it can only take place when the majority of French people have approved this convocation; members of the Legislature may, in this case, be elected members of the National Convention.

Article VIII

The Convention will consist of two members from each department, with two alternates; they will be elected in the same manner as members of the Legislature.

Article IX

The Convention will be responsible for presenting to the people a draft constitution, having been refined and flaws identified by experience.

Article X

All constituted authorities will continue in their duties until the new Constitution has been accepted by the people, in the manner established by the existing Constitution, and until the new authorities have been formed and begun operations.

Article XI

If the proposed constitutional reforms have been rejected in the following first two months or the general will of the people has been found, the Convention must submit to the vote of the Citizens the questions on which it must know their will.

Article XII

The new bill, formed by the expression of this will, will be presented for the acceptance of the people in the same manner.

Article XIII

If it is rejected, the National Convention will thereupon be dissolved, and the Legislature will be required to consult the primary assemblies as to whether to convene a new Convention.

Article XIV

Members of the Convention may not be investigated, charged, or tried at any time for what they have said or written in the exercise of their office; and in all other cases, they may not be tried but on the decision of the Convention itself.

Article XV

The Convention, immediately after its meeting, will set the agenda and progress of its work, as it deems appropriate, but its meetings will always be public.

Article XVI

In any case, the Convention may not extend its session beyond the term of one year.

Title X – The Administration of Justice

Section I

General Rules

Article I

There will be a code of civil and criminal laws uniform throughout the Republic.

Article II

Justice will be rendered in public by jurors and judges.

Article III

These judges will be elected in a timely manner and be paid by the Republic.

Article IV

They may only be renewed at times determined by constitutional law.

Article V

The judicial power may not, in any case or by any pretext, be exercised by the Legislature, the Executive Council, the administrative organs, or the communes.

Article VI

Courts and judges may not interfere in the exercise of the legislative power; they may not interpret, extend, terminate, or suspend the execution of laws; they may not undertake administrative functions, nor cite administrators because of their actions.

Article VII

Judges may not be dismissed but by impeachment by legal judgment, nor suspended but for a submitted accusation.

Section II

Civil Justice

Article I

The right of Citizens to definitively decide their disputes through voluntary arbitration may not be prevented by the Legislature.

Article II

There will be in each commune at least one justice of the peace.

Article III

The justices of the peace are expressly responsible for reconciling parties, and, in case they are unable to accomplish this [reconciliation], for a final decision, without costs for the dispute. They will be renewed annually, but they may not be reelected.

Article IV

The number and jurisdiction of justices of the peace will be determined by the Legislature.

However, the justices of the peace may not judge matters of landed property or crimes, nor exercise any police or administrative functions.

Article V

A justice of the peace may never be considered as a party in lawsuits.

Article VI

In all disputes, other than those under the jurisdiction of the justice of the peace, Citizens will first be required to submit to arbitrators chosen by them.

Article VII

In cases of complaints against decisions rendered by the arbitrators, as under the previous article, Citizens will come before a civil jury.

Article VIII

In each department there will be one civil jury: it will consist of a director, a public recorder, a national commissioner, and the jurors. The number of officers of the jury will be increased by the Legislature according to the needs of the departments.

Article IX

The civil jury panel for each department will be formed as follows:

In each primary assembly, a juror will be elected every six months for every one hundred Citizens registered.

This election will be by a ballot, by simple plurality.

Each voter will sign his ballot, or it will be signed on his behalf by one of the members of the committee, and there will be a single individual elected, regardless of the number of jurors that the primary assembly elects.

Article X

All Citizens residing in each department will be eligible for every primary assembly.

Article XI

Each primary assembly will send to the administration of the department the list of Citizens who receive the most votes in twice the number of jurors that are needed, and the administration, after forming the jury panel, will send it without delay to the director of the jury.

Article XII

Any Citizen, who has been registered twice in a jury panel, may be required to perform new tasks.

Article XIII

The selection of jurors on the panel of the department will be made by the parties.

In case of refusal, this choice will be made by the director of the jury for the parties who refuse.

In case of absence, the choice will be made by the national commissioner for the absent parties.

Article XIV

The director, the recorder, the national commissioner, and their alternates will be elected immediately by the primary assemblies of the department, by the procedures prescribed for the elections of individuals. They are elected for two years; they may be reelected.

Article XV

The principal tasks of the director of the jury will be to preside over the proceedings, those of the recorder, to the presentation of cases before the jury, and those of the national commissioner: first, to demand and monitor compliance with procedures and laws in making judgments, and to enforce judgments; second, to defend the insane, the banned, the absent, students, minors, widows, and the indigent.

Section III

Criminal Justice

Article I

The death penalty is abolished for all private crimes.

Article II

The power of the pardon is only the right to violate the law; it cannot exist in a free government, where the law must be equal for all.

Article III

In criminal matters Citizens may only be tried by jury, and the penalty will be applied by criminal courts.

Article IV

A first [grand] jury will determine if charges will be accepted or rejected. The facts are recognized and declared by a second [trial] jury.

Article V

The accused have the right to reject a number of jurors as determined by law, without giving reason.

Article VI

The jurors who will determine fact may in no instance be fewer than twelve.

Article VII

The accused will choose counsel; if he does not choose, the court will appoint one.

Article VIII

Every man acquitted by a jury may not be arrested or accused for the same act.

Article IX

For each criminal court there will be a president, two judges, and public prosecutors. These four officers will be elected in time by the people; they will be renewed every two years, but they may be reelected.

Article X

The office of the public prosecutor will denounce to the director of the jury, either automatically or according to the orders of the Executive Council or the Legislature:

  1. Attempts committed against the freedom of individual Citizens;
  2. Those committed against the law of nations;
  3. Rebellion to the execution of judgments and of all acts of execution from the constituted authorities;
  4. Disturbances caused, and assaults committed, to prevent the collection of revenue and the free circulation of substances and other articles of commerce;
  5. To request regular procedures during the course of investigation; and for the application of the law before trial;
  6. To prosecute crimes from the indictments of the first [grand] jury;
  7. Supervise, and, if necessary report in case of negligence, all police officers of the department, and to end the criminal trial in the event of serious misconduct.

Section IV

The Judicial Censors

Article I

There will be judicial censors [“citizens”, in the text] who will, at fixed intervals, in the designated seat of each department, pronounce:

  1. On the appeals for review against decisions rendered by the criminal courts and civil juries;
  2. On the requests for referral to another court for reasons of legitimate suspicion;
  3. On the regulations for judges and on actions against judges.

They invalidate the judgments in which the procedures have been violated, or that contain an express contravention of the law.

Article II

Censors will hold office for two years and will be elected by the primary assemblies of each department by the procedures established for the election of individuals.

Article III

Each division of censors may not be composed of fewer than four, and more than seven, members; they may not perform their duties in the department in which they are elected.

Article IV

They will not be familiar with the merits of the case; but after having rendered verdict, they will return the trial to either the criminal court or civil jury who need to be made aware.

Article V

If, after two appeals, the judgment of the third criminal court or civil jury is attacked by the same means as the first two, the question may no longer be brought before the censors, without being subjected to the Legislature, which may issue a declaratory decree on the law with which the censors will be required to comply.

Article VI

The national commissioners and the public prosecutors may, without prejudice to the rights of the interested parties, denounce to the censors acts of the judges exceeding the limits of their power.

Article VII

The censors will cancel these actions, if necessary; and in the case of impeachment, the facts will be brought to the Legislature by the censors who made the pronouncement.

Article VIII

The Legislature will send the trial to court if necessary, and return the accused before the court that will hear the matter.

Article IX

In cases where the parties would not have provided against the judgments in which procedures or laws were violated, the judgments will be, with regard to the parties, res judicata [matters already judged]; but they will be annulled for the public interest on the denunciation of the national commissioners and the public prosecutors. Judges who have rendered the decisions will be prosecuted by impeachment.

Article X

The deadline for appeal to the censors will not be shortened or extended in any case, for any particular cause, nor for any individual.

Article XI

In the first month of the session of the Legislature, each division of censors will be required to send to the Legislature a statement of judgments rendered, next to each of which will be an abbreviated record of the case and the text of the law that determined the decision.

Article XII

In the following month, the Legislature will report on the work of the censors regarding abuses that might have been introduced in the exercise of their office, and the ways to improve the legislation and administration of justice.

Article XIII

Justice will be done on behalf of the Nation. The enforceable judgments of the criminal courts and civil juries will be headed as follows:

The French Republic.

To all Citizens, the civil jury or the court of … have rendered the following judgment:

Copy of the ruling and the names of the judges.

The French Republic demands and orders, etc, etc,….

Article XIV

The same formula will be used for the decisions of the censors, which bear the name of “judicial censorship”.

Section V

The National Jury

Article I

A National Jury will be formed whenever it is needed to pronounce on crimes of high treason: these crimes are specifically defined by the penal code.

Article II

The panel of the National Jury will be composed of three jurors from each department, and an equal number of alternates.

Article III

They and their alternates will be elected by the primary assemblies of each department, in the manner provided for elections.

Article IV

The National Jury will consist of a [grand] jury of indictment and a trial jury.

Article V

There will only be one National Jury when a decision is needed on the simple detention of a member of the Executive Council of the Republic.

Article VI

The judges of the criminal courts of the department in which the offense was committed, perform, with the National Jury, the functions they perform for the regular jury.

Article VII

When the crime of high treason has been committed outside the territory of the Republic, or impeachment has been incurred by a public officer from that same territory, the Legislature will choose by lot, from between the seven criminal courts known to be nearest to the location of the crime.

Article VIII

The same rule is observed where compelling reasons of public interest prevent the National Jury from gathering in the department in which the offense was committed.

Section VI

The Means to Ensure Civil Liberty

Article I

Citizens may only be diverted by magistrates as the constitutional law assigns.

Article II

Public safety will be organized by a special law, and may be performed only by civil officers.

Article III

Anyone seized under the law must be brought before a magistrate: one may only be arrested or detained,

  1. In virtue of a warrant from magistrates,
  2. By an order of detention from a court,
  3. By a decree for arrest from the Legislature,
  4. By conviction to prison or correctional detention.

Article IV

Anyone brought before a magistrate will be interrogated on the spot or within no later than twenty-four hours, under penalty of dismissal and censure.

Article V

If the result of the examination of the magistrate indicates no cause for indictment, the detainee will be immediately released; and if he is sent to jail, it will be for the shortest period, and in any case may not exceed three days.

Article VI

The director of the jury of indictment will be required to convene [the jury] within one month, on penalty of dismissal.

Article VII

Those arrested may not be detained if they provide sufficient bail, in all cases where the law has not determined an afflictive or corporal punishment.

Article VIII

The Legislature will determine the rules by which the deposits and pecuniary penalties will be proportionally graduated, in a manner that does not violate the principles of equality, and does not alter the sentence.

Article IX

Those detained by the authority of the law may not be conducted to places not legally and publicly designated as places of detention, the courthouse, or prison.

Article X

No guard or jailer will receive or retain any rights but by virtue of a warrant, order of seizure, indictment, or trial, without the transcript made in its registry.

Article XI

Any guard or jailer will present the detainee to the civil officer administering the jail, whenever it is required by him.

Article XII

If the detainee has not been kept in secret under a judge’s order, and is entered on the register, his presentation may not be denied to her parents or friends, carrying out the order of the civil officer, who will always be required to grant [the presentation].

Article XIII

Any person, other than those to whom the law gives the right of arrest, who expedites, signs, executes, or makes to execute an order to arrest a Citizen; any person who, in the case of arrest authorized by the law, conducts, receives, or detains a Citizen in a place of detention not publicly and legally appointed; and any guard or jailer who contravenes the provisions of the preceding articles will be guilty of the crime of arbitrary detention, and punished as such.

Article XIV

The home of every Citizen is an inviolable asylum. During the night, one may enter only in the event of fire or in the event of complaint from the interior of the house; during the day, besides these two cases, one may enter in virtue of an order of a magistrate.

Article XV

Courts and other constituted authorities may not in any manner hinder the Citizens in the exercise of the right of assembly, and to meet peaceably and without arms, in accordance with police regulations.

Article XVI

Freedom of the press is unlimited. No man may be searched or prosecuted for reason of writing printed or published on any matter whatsoever, except for action against the author or printer for calumny, on the part of the Citizens who are the object thereof.

Article XVII

No person may be tried, either by civil or criminal means, for things printed or published, without having been recognized and declared by a jury: 1. if there is an offense denounced in the writing, 2. if the person prosecuted is guilty.

Article XVIII

Authors retain ownership of the books they have printed; but the law may ensure the guarantee during the life of the author only.

Title XI – The Public Force

Article I

The public force consists of all Citizens capable of bearing arms.

Article II

It must be organized to defend the Republic against external enemies, and ensure within the maintenance of order, and the execution of laws.

Article III

It may be formed as a body for the purpose of the defense of the Republic against external enemies, as well as for service in the interior of the Republic.

Article IV

Citizens may never act as an armed body for service in the interior, but on the request and authorization of civil officers.

Article V

The public force may only be required by civil officers within the boundaries of their territory. It may not proceed from the territory of one commune to another without the authorization of the administration of the department, and from one department to another without the orders of the Executive Council.

Article VI

However, as the execution of judgments and the prosecution of the accused or convicted has no circumscribed territory within a Republic one and indivisible, the Legislature may determine by a law the means of ensuring the execution of judgments and the prosecution of the accused in the whole extent of the Republic.

Article VII

Whenever disturbances in the interior cause the Executive Council to send a part of the public force from one department to another, it will be required to immediately instruct the Legislature.

Article VIII

All parts of the public force will be employed against foreign enemies, acting under the orders of the Executive Council.

Article IX

The public force is essentially obedient. No armed body may deliberate.

Article X

The commanders-in-chief of the army and navy will be appointed in case of war, and by commission. They will receive it from the Executive Council. It will be revocable at will. The duration will always be limited to a campaign, and it must be renewed annually.

Article XI

The law of military discipline must be renewed annually.

Article XII

The commanders of the National Guard will be elected annually by the Citizens of each commune; and no one may command the National Guard of several communes.

Title XII – Taxation

Article I

Taxes ought never to exceed the needs of the State.

Article II

The People alone have the right, either by themselves, or by their representatives, to consent, monitor the use of, and determine the proportion, basis, collection, and duration [of taxes].

Article III

Taxes will be discussed and determined annually by the Legislature, and may not extend beyond this term if they have not been expressly renewed.

Article IV

Taxes ought to be equally distributed among all the Citizens, owing to [the equality of] their faculties.

Article V

However, the portion of the product of industry and labor that is recognized as necessary for each Citizen for his subsistence may not be subject to any tax.

Article VI

No tax may be established that, by its nature or mode, would interfere with the free disposition of property, the progress of industry and commerce, the circulation of capital, or result in the violation of the rights recognized and declared by the Constitution.

Article VII

The directors of departments or of communes may not establish any taxes, nor make any distribution beyond the forms fixed by the Legislature, nor discuss or permit, without being authorized by it, any local borrowing at the expense of the Citizens of the department or the commune.

Article VIII

Detailed accounts of the expenditures of the ministerial departments, signed and certified by the ministers, will be rendered annually at the beginning of each Legislature.

Article IX

The statements of the receipts of the various contributions and of all the public revenues will be the same.

Article X

The statements of these expenditures and receipts will be distinguished according to their nature, and express the sums received and spent year by year in each department.

Article XI

The accounts of particular expenses of the departments and those relating to the courts, to the directors, and generally to all public institutions will equally be made public.

Title XIII and Last – The Relations of the French Republic with Foreign Nations, and Its External Relations

The Relations of the French Republic with Foreign Nations, and Its External Relations

Article I

The French Republic will take arms only for the maintenance of its liberty, the preservation of its territory, and the defense of its allies.

Article II

She solemnly renounces the joining of its territory to foreign countries, unless it is the freely expressed will of the majority of its inhabitants, and, in the case of countries seeking such joining, will not be incorporated in and united to another nation, in virtue of a social pact expressed in a previous constitution and freely consented.

Article III

In countries occupied by the arms of the French Republic, the generals will be required to maintain by all the means at their disposal, the safety of persons and property, and ensure the Citizens of this country the full enjoyment of their natural, civil, and political rights. They may not, under any pretext and in any case, protect the maintenance of customs contrary to equality and the sovereignty of peoples, from which their authority is derived.

Article IV

In its relations with foreign nations, the French Republic will respect institutions guaranteed by the consent by the general population.

Article V

A declaration of war will be made by the Legislature and will not be subject to the procedures prescribed for other deliberations; but it may not be decreed but by a session announced at least three days in advance, by a signed ballot, and after having heard the Executive Council on the State of the Republic.

Article VI

In case of imminent hostilities begun or threatened, or of preparations of war against the French Republic, the Executive Council will employ, for the defense of the State, the means that are at its disposal, with the responsibility to inform the Legislature without delay. It may even indicate in its case the augmentation of forces and new measures that circumstances might require.

Article VII

All officers of the public forces are authorized, in case of attack, to repel hostile aggression, with the responsibility to inform without delay the Executive Council.

Article VIII

No negotiations may be initiated, nor suspension of hostilities granted, except by virtue of a decree from the Legislature, which will decide on these matters after hearing the Executive Council.

Article IX

Conventions and treaties of alliance and trade will be negotiated on behalf of the French Republic, by national officers appointed by the Executive Council and responsible to his instructions; but their execution will be suspended and may not take place but after ratification.

Article X

Capitulations and momentary suspensions of arms, granted by the generals, are the sole exceptions to the previous articles.

Signed the members of the Constitutional Committee.

Condorcet, Gensonne, B. Barrere, Barbaroux, Thomas Payne, Petion, Vergniaud, Emmanuel Sieyes.