In consequence, the National Assembly recognizes and declares, in the presence and under the
auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and citizen:
1. Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions
can be based only on public utility.
2. The aim of every political association is the preservation of the natural and
imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and
resistance to oppression.
3. The sources of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation; no body,
individual can exercise authority that does not proceed from it in plain
4. Liberty consists in the power to do anything that does not injure
the exercise of the rights of each man has no limits except those that
secure the enjoyment of these same rights to the other members of society. These limits can
be determined only by law.
5. The law has only the rights to forbid such actions as are injurious
to society. Nothing can be forbidden that is not interdicted by the law,
and no one can be constrained to do that which it does not order.
6. Law is the expression of the general will. All citizens have the
right to take part personally, or by their representatives, and its
formation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or
punishes. All citizens, being equal in its eyes, are equally
eligible to all public dignities, places, and employments, according to
their capacities, and without other distinction than that of their virtues
7. No man can be accused, arrested, or detained, except in the cases
determined by the law and according to the forms it has prescribed.
Those who procure, expedite, execute, or cause arbitrary orders to be
executed, ought to be punished: but every citizen summoned were seized in
virtue of the law ought to render instant obedience; he makes himself
guilty by resistance.
8. The law ought only to establish penalties that are strict and
obviously necessary, and no one can be punished except in virtue of a law
established and promulgated prior to the offense and legally applied.
9. Every man being presumed innocent until he has been pronounced
guilty, if it is thought indispensable to arrest him, all severity that
may not be necessary to secure his person ought to be strictly suppressed
10. No one should be disturbed on account of his opinions, even religious, provided their manifestation does not
upset the public order established by law.
11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the
rights of man; every citizen can then freely speak, write, and print,
subject to responsibility for the abuse of this freedom in the cases is
determined by law.
12. The guarantee of the rights of man and citizen requires a public
force; this force then is instituted for the advantage of all and not for
the personal benefit of those to whom it is entrusted.
13. A general tax is indispensable for the maintenance of the public
force and for the expenses of administration; it ought to be equally
apportioned among all citizens according to their means.
14. All the citizens have a right to ascertain, by themselves or by
their representatives, the necessity of the public tax, to consent to it
freely, to follow the employment of it, and to determine the quota, the
assessment, the collection, and the duration of it.
15. Society has the right to call for an account of his administration
by every public agent.
16. Any society in which the guarantee of the rights is not secured, or
the separation of powers not determined, has no constitution at all.
17. Property being a sacred to and inviolable right, no one can be
deprived of it, unless legally established public necessity evidently
demands it, under the condition of a just and prior indemnity.
[Source: Frank Maloy Anderson, ed., The Constitution and Other
Select Documents Illustrative of the History of France, 1789-1907 (New
York: Russell and Russell, 1908), pp. 59-61.]