Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789


August 15, 2022

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 (sometimes abbreviated as DDHC) is a fundamental text of the French Revolution which sets out a set of individual and common natural rights, as well as the conditions for their implementation. Its last articles were adopted on August 26, 1789. The Declaration is one of the three texts referred to in the preamble to the French Constitution of October 4, 1958. Its constitutional value has been recognized by the Constitutional Council since 1971. Its provisions are therefore part of French positive law, and are at the highest level of the hierarchy of norms in France.


The Assembly, convened at Versailles by the convocation of the Estates General to find a fiscal solution to the State deficit and override the refusal of the regional parliaments, declared itself the National Assembly by bringing together on June 17, 1789 the three orders which it decided to abolition, then establishes Constituent Assembly, and decides to write a declaration of the fundamental principles from which will be established a new Constitution. It meets for this after having issued the decrees of August 4, 6, 7, 8 and 11, 1789 on the abolition of feudal rights, which it will resume in article 1. On July 9, Jean-Joseph Mounier, deputy for Dauphiné, proposes that the Constitution be preceded by a Declaration. Many deputies wrote draft declarations: the first was by La Fayette (of which it will be said that the later drafts are only the commentary), then came those of Targuet, Mounier, Mirabeau, Sieyès and Gouges-Cartou. On August 4, 1789, the Constituent Assembly decreed that the Constitution would be preceded by a declaration of rights. On August 12, the Constituent Assembly decided to create a committee of five deputies responsible for examining the various draft declarations, merging them into a single one and presenting it as of the 17th. The next day, August 13, it proceeded to the election of its members: Démeunier, La Luzerne, Tronchet, Mirabeau and Redon. The committee carried out its task: on August 17, it presented a draft declaration of the rights of man in society in nineteen articles preceded by a preamble. On August 19, the Constituent Assembly decided that the text of the Declaration would be discussed, article by article, based on a draft of twenty-four articles proposed by the sixth bureau, headed by Jérôme Champion de Cicé. This project will be modified in depth during the debates. Father Grégoire proposed that the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen be accompanied by that of Duties. The text was voted article by article from August 20 to 26, 1789 by the Constituent Assembly. On August 20, 1789, it adopted its preamble and the first three articles; on the 21st, articles 4 to 6; 22, Articles 7 to 9; on the 23rd, article 10; 24, articles 11 to 13; the 26th, the last four articles,,,,. The discussion is interrupted on August 26, 1789 after the adoption of article 17 relating to the right of property, in order to leave room for the discussion of the articles of the Constitution itself. The next day, August 27, the Constituent Assembly adopted the following motion, proposed by Mougins de Rocquefort: "The National Assembly decrees that it limits for the present the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen to the seventeen articles which it has adopted, and that it will proceed without delay to fix the Constitution of France to insure the public prosperity, except to add after the work of the Constitution such articles as it may think necessary to complete the Declaration of Rights. » On October 5, under the pressure of the riot, Louis XVI accepted the Declaration as well as the nineteen articles of the Constitution already adopted by the Constituent Assembly. Promulgated by the King by Letters Patent given at Paris, November 3