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B. Decree upon the Departments and Districts. Decem-
ber 22, 1/89. Duvergier, Luis, I, 73-78.

1. There shall be made a new division of the kingdom in-
to departments, both for representation and administration.
These departments shall be from seventy-liv,' to eighty-five in

2. Each depaitment__shall be divided into districts, of
which the number, which shall not be less than three nor more
than nine, shall b-.> determined by the National Assembly, ac-
cording to the need and convenience of the department, after
having heard the deputies of the provinces.

3. Each district shall be divided into divisions called
cantons, of about four square leagues (common leagues of

5. There shall be established at the head-town of e^ch de-
partment a higher administrative assembly." under the title of
Department Administration.

6. There shall likewise be established at the head town of
each district a subordinate administrative assembly, under the
title of District Administration.

7. There shall be a municipality in each city, borough.
parish or rural community.

SECTION II. Of the formation and organization of the ad-
ministrative assemblies.

1. There shall be only one degree of election intermediate
between the primary assemblies and the administrative as-

2. After having selected the representatives to the National
Assembly, the same electors in each department -hall elect the
members, to the number of twenty six, who shall compose the
Department Administration.


3. The electors of each district shall meet afterwards at the
head-town of their district and shall there select the members,
to the number of twelve, who shall compose the District Ad-

4. The members of the department administration shall be
chosen from among the eligible citizens of all the districts of
the department, in such a manner, however, that there shall
always be in that administration at least two memhes_from
each district.

5. The members of the district administrations shall be
chosen from among the eligible citizens of all the cantons of
tne district.

6. In order to be eligible to the district and department
administrations it shall be necessary to unite to the conditions
requisite for active citizenship that of paying a larger direct
tax and which amounts to at least the local value of ten days
of labor.

12. Each administration, whether department or district,
shall be permanent and the members shall be renewed by half
every two years; the first time by lot. after the first two years
of service, and afterwards by order of seniority.

13. The members of the administrations shall thus be in
office for four years, with the exception of those who shall go
out by lot at the first renewal after the first two years.

20. Each department administration shall be divided__jnto
two sections, one under the title of Dcparinicnl^C^uncil. the
other under that of Department Directory.

21. The department council shall hold annually one session
in order to determine the regulations for each part of the admin-
istration, to order the public works and the general expenses
of the department, and to receive an account of the administra-
tirn of the directory. The first session may be of six weeks,
and that of the following years of a month at most.

23. The members of each department administration shall
elect, at the end of their first session, eight from among them-
selves to compose the directory ; they shall renew these every
year by a half. The president of the department administration


may be present and shall have the right to preside at all the
sittings of the directory, which may, nevertheless, choose a

24. At the opening of each annual session the department
council shall begin by hearing, receiving, and agreeing to the
account of the administration of the directory; afterwards the
members of the directory shall take their seats and shall have
deliberative voice with those of the council.

27. Everything which is prescribed by articles 22. 23. and
24 above, for the functions, the form of election and of re-
newal, the right of sitting and of deliberative voice of the
menrbers of the department directory, shall likewise apply to
those of the district directories.

28. The district administrations and directories shall be
entirely subordinate to the department administrations and

29. The district councils may hold their annual session for
only fifteen days at most and the opening of this session shall
precede by a month that of the department council.

30. The district councils can only look after tin- preparation
of the requests to be made and the matters to be submitted to
the department administration in the interest of the district,
arrange for methods of execution, and receive the accounts of
the administration of their directory.

3r. The district directories shall be charged with the ex-
ecution, within the extent of the jurisdiction of their district,
under the direction and authority of the department adminis-
tration and of its directory, and they cannot cause the execu-
tion of any orders of the district council in matters of general
administration, unless approved by the department adminis-

SECTION III. Of the functions of the administrative as-

I. The department administrations are charged, under the
supervision of the Legislative Body and in virtue of it^ de
crees ; ist, with the apportionment of all the direct ta\e< im-
posed upon each department. This apportionment shall b;
made by the department administrations among the district-; of


their jurisdiction and by the district administrations among the
municipalities; 2d, to order and to cause to be made up. ac-
cording to the forms which shall be established, the assessment
rolls of the taxpayers of each municipality; 3d. to regulate and
to supervise everything which relates as well to the collection
and deposit of the product of these taxes as to the service and
functions of the agents who shall have charge of them; 4th. to
order and to cause to be executed the payment of the expenses
which shall be allowed in each dcpartmenrout of ThlT product
of the same taxes.

2. The department administrations__shalL be further
charged, under the authority and supervision of the King, as
supreme head of the nation and of the general administration
of the kingdom, with all the parts of that administration, es-
pecially with those which relate to: ist, the relief of paupers
and the police regulation of mendicants and vagabonds: 2'1. the
supervision and improvement of the management of hospital >.
hotcls-dicii, charitable establishments and workshops, prisons,
jails, and houses of correction; 3d, the supervision of public
education and political and moral instruction; 4th, the custody
and employment of the funds set aside in each department for
the encouragement of agriculture, industry, and every form of
public beneficence; 5th, the preservation of public property;
6th, that of forests, rivers, roads, and other public property:
7th. the direction and execution of work for the making of
highways, canals, and other public works authorised in the
department : 8th, the maintenance, repair, and reconstruction
of the churches, parsonages, and other things necessary for the
service of religious worship; Qth, the maintenance of the
public health, security, and tranquility; loth, lastly, the disposal
and employment of the national guards, as shall be regulated
by special decrees.

3. The district administrations shall participate in these
functions within the extent of the jurisdiction of each district
only under the interposed authority of the department admin-

4. The department and district administrations shall IK*
always required to conform, in the exercise of all these func-
tions, to the regulations established by the constitution and to
the legislative decrees sanctioned by the King.


5. The decisions of the department administrative assem-
blies upon all the matters which shall concern the regime of
the general administration of the kingdom or upon new un-
dertakings and extraordinary works can be executed only after
having received the approval of the King. The special authori-
sation of the King shall not be necessary with respect to the
despatch of the special matters and anything which is carried
out in virtue of decisions already approved.

6. The department and district administrations shall not be
able to establish any tax, for any purpose or under any de-
nomination whatsoever, by assessing anyone in excess of the
sums and the time fixed by the Legislative Body ; nor to make
any loan, unless authorised by it, except to provide for the
establishment of suitable means to procure for themselves the
necessary funds for the payment of the local debts and ex-
penses and for imperative and urgent needs.

7. They cannot be disturbed in the exercise of their ad-
ministrative functions by any act of the judicial power.

8. From the day when the department and district admin-
istrations shall be formed, the Provincial-Estates, the Provin-
cial Assemblies, and the inferior assemblies which exist at pres-
ent shall he suppressed and shall entirely cease their functions.

9. There shall not be any intermediary between the de-
partment administrations and the supreme executive power>.
The abolished commissioners, and the intendants and their sub-
delegates, shall cease all functions as soon as the department
administrations shall have entered into service.

10. In the provinces which have had up to the present a
common administration and which are divided among several
departments, each department administration shall appoint two
commissioners who shall meet together in order to effect the
liquidation of the debts contracted under the preceding regime.
to establish the apportionment of these debts among the dif-
ferent parts of the province and to put an end to these former
matters. The account thereof shall be rendered to an assembly
formed of four other commissioners appointed by each do
partment administration.


8. Decree for Abolishing the Nobility.

June 19, 1790. Duvcrgier, Low, I, 217-218.

The Revolution was a social revolution even tuore than a
political one. On its social side it was marked by a passionate
desire for equality, i.e., the removal of inequalities created or
sanctioned by the law. This decree is typical of many passed by
the Constituent Assembly for the purpose of removing legal sanc-
tion for social inequalities.

REFERENCE. Von Sybei, rrcnch Revolution, I, 238-241.

1. Hereditary nobility is forever abolished; in conse-
quence the titles of prince, duke, count maTquis, viscount,
vidame. baron, knight, mcssirc, ccnycr nol'lc. and all otiu-r
similar titles, shall neither be taken by anyone whomsoever
nor given to anybody.

2. A citizen may take only the true name of his family;
no one may wear liveries nor cause them to be worn, nor
have armorial bearings; incense shall not be burned in the
temples, except in order to honor the Divinity, and shall not
be offered for any one whomsoever.

3. The titles of monscigncur and mcsscigneurs shall not be
given to any body [of men] nor to any person, likewise the
titles of excellency, highness, eminence, grace, etc. ; neverthe-
less, no citizen, under pretext of the present decree. , c hall be
permitted to make an attack on the monuments placed in the
temples, the charters, titles and other tokens of interest to
families or properties, nor the decorations of any public or
private place; nevertheless, the execution of the provisions
relative to the liveries and the arms placed upon carri igo-
shall not be carried out nor demanded by any one whomsoever
before the 141)1 of July for the citizens living in Pari<; and he-
fore three months for those who inhabit the country.

4. Xo foreigners are included in the provision of the prc^-
ent decree; they may preserve in France their liveries and
their armorial bearings.

9. Decree for Reorganizing the Judicial System.

August 16. 1700. Duverjfler. 7,oi., I. mi ::.'!.(.

One of the worst features of the Old Regime was Its system
for administering justice. This document, better than any other



one, exhibits the work of the Constituent Assembly in the field
of Judicial reform. Other important decrees are those of October
8 and 0, 1780, and of September 16 and 25, 1791, unfortunately
too long to be included here.

REFERENCKS. Stephens, French Revolution, I, 284-288 ; I.a-
visse and Uambaud, Ulntoirc Gencralc, VIII, 84-85, 494-497.


i. Arbitration being the most reasonable means for the
termination of disputes between citizens, the legislatures shall
not make any provision which shall tend to diminish either the
popularity or the efficiency of the cotnpromis.


1. Justice shall be rendered in the name of the King.

2. The -Sale ol judicial offices . is abolished forever ; the
judges shall render justice gratuitously and shall be salaried
by the State.

3. The judges shall be elected by the justiciable.

4. They shall be elected for six years ; at the expiration of
this term a new election shall take place, in which the same
judges may be re-elected.

12. They shall not make regulations, but they shall have
recourse to the legislative body, whenever they think necessary,
either to interpret a law or to make a new one.

13. The judicial functions are distinct and shall always
remain separated from the administrative functions. The
judges, under penalty of forfeiture, shall not disturb in any
manner whatsoever the operations of the administrative bodies
nor cite before them the administrators on account of their

14. In every civil or criminal matter, the pleading?, tcsti
mony, and decisions shall be public, and every_ci_tize.n,. shnll
have the right to himself defend his own .case, either verballv
or in writing.

15. Trial by jury shall occur in criminal matters; the ex-
amination shall be made publicly and shall have the publicity
which shall be determined.

1 6. All privilege in matters of jurisdiction is abolished : nil


citizens, without distinction, shall plead in the same form and
before the same judges in the same cases.

17. The constitutional order of the jurisdictions shall not
be disturbed, nor the justiciable removed from their natural
judges by any commission, nor by other attributions or evo-
cations than those which are determined by the law.

18. All citizens being equal before the law, and every pref-
erence for rank and the turn to be tried being an injustice, all
suits, according to their nature, shall be tried when they have
been examined in the order in which their trial shall have been
applied for by the parties.

19. The civil laws shall be reviewed and reformed by the
legislatures ; and there shall be made a general code of laws
that are simple, clear, and in harmony with the constitution.

20. The Code of civil procedure shall be reformed forth-
with in such a manner that it may be rendered more simple,
more expeditious, and less expensive.

21. The Penal Code shall be reformed forthwith in such
a manner that the penalties may be proportionate to the of-
fences ; taking good care that they be moderate and not losing
sigtit of that maxim of the declaration of the rights of man
that the law can establish only penalties which are strictly and
ei'idently necessary.


i. There shall be in each canton a justice of the peace and
upright assessors of the justice of the peace.

3. The justices of the peace may be chosen only from
among the citizens eligible to the department and district ad-
ministrations, fully thirty years of age, without any other con-
dition of eligibility.

4. The justices of the peace shall be elected, with individ-
ual ballot and majority of the votes, by the active citizens met
in primary assemblies.

6. The same electors shall select from among the active
citizens of each municipality, by scrutin dc liste and plurality,
four notables to perform the duties of assessors of the justice
of the peace. This justice shall call upon those who shall be


selected in the municipality of the place where there is need
for their assistance.

8. The justices of the peace and the upright men shall be
selected for two years and may be continued by re-election.

9. The justice of the peace, assisted by two assessors, shall
have jurisdiction with them over all cases dealing solely with
persons and personal property, without appeal up to the value
of fifty livrcs and subject to appeal up to the value of a hun-
dred Hires. . . . The legislatures shall not raise the
amount of this competency.

10. He has jurisdiction, likewise, without appeal up to the
value of fifty I fares and subject to appeal at whatever \\;lue
the complainant can prove.

[Here follow six classes of additional civil ac-

12. The appeal from the judgments of the justice of the
peace, when they are subject to appeal, shall be carried before
the judges of the district and tried by them in the last resort
in audience and summarily upon the simple writ of appeal.


I. There shall be established in each district a tribunal
composed of five judges, with whom there shall be an officer
charged with the functions of the public ministry. The sub-
stitutes for them shall be four in number, of whom two at
least shall be taken from within the city of the establishment
or required to reside in it.

4. The district judges shall have jurisdiction in the fir^t
instance over all personal, real estate, and mixed suits of every
kind, except only those which have been declared above to be
within the jurisdiction of the justices of the peace, commercial
suits in the districts where there are no commercial tribunals
established, and the litigious affairs of the municipal police

5. The district judges have jurisdiction in first and last re-
sort over all suits involving persons and personal property, up
to the value of a thousand lii'rcs of principal, and . >ver real


estate suits of which the chief item shall be of fifty limes of
fixed revenue, either in income or in lease price.


i. The district judges shall be judges of appeal with re-
spect to each other, according to the relations whic'i .shall
be established in the following articles.


1. In all matters which shall exceed the competency of the
justice of the peace, this justice and his assessors shall form a
bureau of peace and conciliation.

2. No principal action in civil matters shall be received
before the district judges between parties who shall all be
domiciled in the jurisdiction of the same justice of the peace,
whether in the city or in the country, unless the plaintiff gives
at the head of his writ a copy of the certificate of the peace
bureau attesting that his opponent has been summoned to no
purpose to this bureau or that it has employed its mediation
without result.

12. If any dispute arises between husband and wife, father
and son, grand-father and grand-son, brothers and sisters,
nephews and uncles, or between kinsmen of the above degrees,
as also between pupils and their tutors in matters relative to
their tutelage, the parties shall be required to appoint kinsmen
or, in their default, friends or neighbors, as arbiters before
whom they shall explain their difference and who, after hav-
ing heard them and having obtained the necessary knowledge,
shall render a decision which includes a statement of the rea-
sons for it.

13. Each of the parties shall select two arbiters ; and if one
of them refuses, the other may apply to the judge, who. after
having authenticated the refusal, shall appoint official arbiters
for the refusing party. When the four arbiters find themselves
divided in opinion they shall choose an umpire to remove the

14. The party which believes itself injured by the arbitral


decision may appeal to the district tribunal, which shall pro-
nounce in the last resort.


i. The municipal bodies within the precincts of each mu-
nicipality shall look to and supervise the execution of the laws
and the police regulations and shall have jurisdiction over the
litigation to which this execution may give rise.

5. Contraventions of the police regulations shall be pun-
ished only by one of these two penalties, either by condemna-
tion to a pecuniary penalty or imprisonment by way of cor-
rection for a time which in the most serious cases shall not ex-
ceed three days in the country and eight days in the cities.

6. Appeals from the judgments in police matters shall be
carried to the tribunal of the district and these judgments
shall be executed provisionally, notwithstanding the appeal
and without prejudice to it.


1. There shall be established a commercial tribunal in the
cities where the department administration, deeming these es-
tablishments necessary, shall frame a request for them.

2. This tribunal shall have jurisdiction of all commercial
suits, both by land and sea, without distinction.

7. The commercial judges shall be elected in the assembly
of the merchants, bankers, traders, manufacturers, ship-owners
and ship-captains of the city where the tribunal is established.

10. Circular Letter of Louis XVI to Foreign Courts.
April '23, 1701. Archircs rurltmcntains. XXV, :5r_'-:Uo.

On April IS. 17!>1. Louis XVI was prevented from m>in i.>
St. Cloud by the Paris crowds, who feared that he was trying to
escape from the capital. This document, communicated in the
Constituent Assembly as well as to the foreign courts, was ob-
viously intended to (jtiiet these fears and to conceal the Kind's
preparations for flight. In connect ion with No. 1- A It did much
to establish a tirm belief In ihe King's insincerity. The views


expressed, though certainly not the real views of the King, an* of
interest, ns substantially those of Frenchmen loyal to the King
and the Revolution alike.

REFKUKXCK. Aulard, Resolution Fruncaiac, 11G-117.

The King cliargcs me to inform you that it is his most
express wish that you should make known his sentiments upon
the French Revolution and Constitution at the court where yen
reside. The ambassadors and ministers of France at all the
courts of Europe are receiving the same directions, in order
that there may not remain iny doubt about the intentions of
His Majesty, or about the free acceptance which he has given
to the new form of government, or about his irrevocable oat'i
to maintain it.

His Majesty convoked the States-General of the kingdom
and determined in his Council that the Commons should have
in it a number of deputies equal to that of the other two orders
which then existed. This act of provisional legislation, which
the obstacles of the moment did not permit to be made more
favorable, announced sufficiently the desire of His Majesty to
re-establish the nation in all of its rights.

The States-General met and took the title of National As-
sembly; soon a Constitution, qualified to secure the welfare of
France and of the monarch, replaced the former order of
things, in which the apparent power of the kingship only con-
cealed the actual power of certain aristocratic bodies.

The National Assembly adopted the form of representative
government in conjunction with hereditary kingship. The leg-
islative body was declared permanent ; the election of clergy-
men, administrators, and judges -was made over to the people,
the executive power was conferred upon the King, the form-
ation of the law upon the Legislative Body, and the sanction
upon the monarch. The public force, both internal and extern-
al, was organized upon the same principles and in accordance
with the fundamental basis of the distinction of the powers:
such is the new Constitution of the kingdom.

What is called the Revolution is only the abolition of a mul-
titude of abuses accumulated in the course of centuries through

Online LibraryFrank Maloy AndersonThe constitutions and other select documents illustrative of the history of France, 1789-1901 → online text (page 5 of 60)