French Revolution 1793
Source: Reglemens de la Societé de l’Harmonie Sociale. Paris, L’Imprimerie des Enfans-Aveugles, 1793;
Translated: for Marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor.
The popular societies of Paris were at the heart of the revolutionary movement, providing a focus and a force for the activities of the sans-culotte masses.
Paris was divided into 48 sections in 1790, the names of the sections themselves showing how deeply the Revolution had penetrated the society. Sections regularly had their names changed to reflect the rising tide of the Revolution: with intermediate steps, in 1792 Palais-Royal became Montagne (after the Jacobins,) in 1793, Place Louis XIV became Guillaume Tell, in 1793, Fontaine-Montmorency became Brutus, and Roi-de Sicile became, Droits-de-l’homme in 1792, etc., etc.
Within these sections, in the popular societies the masses were given a direct say in the events of the day. Cobblers, tailors, artisans, day laborers all had a voice at these meetings, as they kept a close and wary eye on the leaders of the day, pressing for the meeting of popular demands and the pushing forward of the Revolution.
The following are the rules governing one of the more radical societies located in the Arsenal section, in the northeast of the city.
Established in the Arsenal Section in one of the halls of the National Institute for Blind Children
Decided July 17, 1793, Second year of the French Republic One and Indivisible.
Liberty, Equality, Surveillance, Fraternity, or Death
The republicans of the Society of Social Harmony of Both Sexes Friends of the Constitution, penetrated with the principles of Liberty and Equality which the Revolution has led us to, considering that the ignorance and contempt of the laws are the sole causes that can prepare the ruin of Liberty and destroy our work; that one the most formidable ramparts that we can oppose to the enemies of the Fatherland is the bringing together of the patriots friends of the Constitution, who have as their goal the desire for and love of the general welfare and the maintaining of the Republic one and indivisible by ensuring the maintenance and the respect of the laws,
Has unanimously decided upon the present rules, dictated in keeping with the principles of reason and justice that must exist in a gathering of free men.
The Republican men and women of the sections gathered, desiring to be fraternally educated and to acquire the knowledge needed to make the cause of Liberty and Equality triumph, and to ensure the maintenance of the Republic one and indivisible, have decided to constitute themselves as a popular society of patriots of the two sexes under the name of the Society of Social Harmony.
The principles of social equality having to be consecrated and put in practice, the right to obtain and spread education and the knowledge useful to the republic belonging without distinction to both sexes, female citizens shall be equally and without distinction admitted alongside male citizens to share in the patriotic labors of the society.
The bureau shall be composed of a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary and a Vice-Secretary. The members of the Bureau will be named for only fifteen days with a consultative voice only.
The members of the Bureau can only continue in the exercise of their functions through re-election two fortnights in a row.
The functions of the President shall be the maintenance of order in the assembly, having the rules observed, granting the floor in the order in which it is asked for, posing the questions upon which the Assembly has to deliberate, pronouncing the results of the opinions of the Society to different deputations, and proclaiming the names of the members who are to compose the deputations determined by the Society.
The member of the Bureau shall be named through written ballots. To this end, at the end of each fortnight there shall be placed on the Secretary’s desk a ballot box for the receiving of the votes.
The count will be done at the same session by two examiners named by acclamation so that the one who has received the most votes will be President, the next will be VicePpresident, the third Secretary, and the Fourth Vice-Secretary.
The examiners shall give the results of the count done by them to the President, who will proclaim them to the Society.
There shall be a Committee of Correspondence composed of six members. It will be named in the same way as the members of the Bureau.
The object of the functions of the Committee of Correspondence shall be correspondence with all those patriotic societies fraternizing with the Society, the answering of all letters, and the sending of all the circulars, writings and speeches pronounced within the Society which it shall judge useful to give to the brothers of the other societies.
All letters and packets addressed to the Society shall be given to the Committee of Correspondence so that they can be analyzed and submitted to the society at the next session, except for the complete reading of pieces whose importance and particular importance shall be recognized by the Society. The Committee of Correspondence will keep a record of all the pieces and letter it receives.
The Committee of Correspondence shall meet at least twice weekly. The correspondence shall always be read immediately after the transcript.
There shall be four sessions per week. They shall be held on those days on which the Society of Jacobins doesn’t meet; that is, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
The sessions shall begin at 5:00 p.m. in winter and at 6:00 p.m. in summer.
At the end of each session the matters in question submitted for the order of the day at the next session shall be posted by the Secretary at the tribune of the Society.
The sessions of the Society will be public, but in such a way that those citizens not members are placed in a spot distant from that occupied by members of the Society.
No one shall restrict the freedom of opinion, and no one will be hindered or countered in his way of expressing his opinion.
The President shall only recall to order those who stray from the question under discussion.
In the case of extreme tumult calm shall be restored by the President, who will cover his head, which will impose on all citizens the obligation of uncovering theirs.
There shall be a Committee of Presentation composed of members named in the same way as the members of the Bureau and the Committee of Correspondence, and like them revocable at the will of the Assembly.
Any male or female citizen who wishes to be admitted to be part of the Society shall address himself to this Committee, will give them their first name, family name, profession, and place of residence, will at the same time sign their request for admission in a register that serves this purpose and shall be obliged to be supported by two members of the Society, who will sign with them.
The Committee of Presentation shall be mandated to meet at least twice weekly.
The names of the candidates presented, as well as those of the members who support them, shall be inscribed on a board that will be exposed for one week at the tribune of the Society, so that in the case there is some reproach of incivisme to be made against any of them every member will have the ability to place an “X” next to the name, he then having to present himself at the end of the week to explain the reasons for opposition to the admission, lacking which he shall be disregarded.
The Committee of Presentation is authorized to consider the reason for opposition after having conferred with the candidates charged. In the case where they persist in soliciting admission the case shall be referred to the General Assembly, which shall make a final decision.
There shall be a Treasurer charged for three months with the receipts and expenses of the Society. He can be re-elected as often as the Society judges appropriate. Every three months, counting from the day of his nomination he will give a public accounting of his management and the financial state of the Society. He shall be named in the same way as the other functionaries.
The expenses of the original establishment requiring certain advances, and the society not wanting to hinder those of its members who don’t have fortune’s advantages, determines that the contribution for meeting the expenses of the Society shall be fixed at ten sous monthly.
When one of our brothers finds himself in difficulty, and when the Committees of Presentation and Correspondence will have recognized the nature and importance of his needs, a report shall be made to the Society, which in this case shall order a voluntary and fraternal collection for the profit of the Citizen, which shall be given him anonymously.
The Society shall have a distinctive seal or cachet. It shall represent a fasces of arms, symbol of union, with above it a Liberty Bonnet, on one side a diapason and on the other a level, supported by an olive and an oak branch, and above it these words: SOCIETY OF SOCIAL HARMONY.
The same imprint shall be placed on the card that will delivered to each of the members and which shall be signed with the signature of the President and the Secretary and renewed whenever the society deems it appropriate.
Every member must show his card to the Commissars charged with inspection at the entry to the hall.
At the opening of each session the President shall indicate two seated censors and two circulating censors, charged with maintaining order and silence in the assembly.
The first concern of the Society shall be to submit to the law on the formation of popular societies by sending a deputation to the municipality to inform it of the existence of the Society; of the place, days, and hours it has decided to meet, and in order to submit to it a copy of its rules, asking protection and fraternity of the people’s magistrates.
The Society will also solicit by deputation the affiliation and fraternal correspondence with the mother Society of Republicans Friends of Liberty and Equality at the former Jacobin church, as well as with the republicans gathered at the former Cordelier church.
The same deputies will be charged with giving to each of said societies a certified copy of its rules and the names of the members who compose it.
The Society reserves the right to name a Purification Committee composed of twelve members , named by vote like the other functionaries of the Society, in order to scrutinize those members about whom it seems there is some just reason for mistrust or denunciation.
The Society, flattered to be one of the branches of the mother Society of Jacobins of Paris will correspond with no other society than those that will justify their fraternization with it.
The Society decided in principle that it will not admit any signatory of anti-civic, royalist, or Fayettist petition, nor any individual who will have given proof of incivisme or who refused to march against the enemies of the Fatherland when it was a case of requisition by law, or who has demonstrated himself to be a Brissotin, Rollandiste, in a word, against the unity and indivisibility of the Republic; finally, any citizen who will not justify himself by taking the oath or a civic card.
Armand Caraffe, President
Ancillons, V, Secretary