Primary Source

Thouret, "Report on the Basis of Political Eligibility" (29 September 1789)


Jacques–Guillaume Thouret (1746–94), a lawyer from Rouen, spoke for the Constitutional Committee of the National Assembly that included, among others, Sieyès and Rabaut Saint–Etienne. His report formed the basis for the subsequent legislation on qualifications for voting and officeholding.


The number of individuals in France is about 26 million; but according to calculations that seem to be very definite, the number of active citizens, with deductions made for women, minors, and all those who are deprived of political rights for legitimate reasons, is reduced to one-sixth of the total population. One must only count therefore about 4,400,000 citizens qualifying to vote in the primary assemblies of their canton [local administrative unit]. . . .

The Committee proposes that the necessary qualifications for the title of active citizen in the primary assembly of the canton be: (1) to be French or to have become French; (2) to have reached one's majority [be a legal adult; the age was set at 25]; (3) to have resided in the canton for at least one year; (4) to pay direct taxes at a rate equal to the local value of three days of work, a value that will be assessed in monetary terms by the provincial assemblies; (5) to not be at the moment a servant, that is to say, in personal relationships that are all too incompatible with the independence necessary to the exercise of political rights.

To be eligible for office, either at the town or departmental level, one must have fulfilled all the conditions cited above with the sole difference that instead of paying a direct tax equal to the local value of three days of work, one must pay one equal to the value of ten days of work.


The materials listed below appeared originally in The French Revolution and Human Rights: A Brief Documentary History, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Lynn Hunt (Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1996), 82.

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"Thouret, "Report on the Basis of Political Eligibility" (29 September 1789)," in World History Commons, [accessed June 13, 2024]