Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen Adopted by the National Assembly during its Sessions on August 20, 21, 25 and 26, 1789, and Approved by the King


On June 17, 1789, the members of Third Estate (those members of the pre-revolutionary French parliament, the Estates-General, who were not from the First Estate, the nobility, or the Second Estate, the clergy) gathered and declared themselves the National Assembly of France. Alarmed at this radical development, King Louis XVI (1754−93) decided to end their deliberations and barred access to the room in Versailles where they had been meeting. Over the next several days, most members of the clergy in the Estates-General and a significant number of the nobility declared their support for the new assembly. On June 27, all but one of the 577 members from the Third Estate swore to stick together until they had drafted a constitution for the country. This became known as the Serment du Jeu de Paume (Tennis court oath), after the location where the parliamentarians gathered after having been barred from their earlier meeting place by the king. Louis XVI then decided to invite the two other estates to join the assembly, which on July 9, 1789 became the National Constituent Assembly. On August 4, the assembly accepted a proposal from one of its representatives, Jean-Joseph Mounier, to add a declaration on human rights to the beginning of the constitution. On August 12, a committee was elected to examine and merge the various proposals for the declaration. A document comprised of 19 articles was presented on August 17 and discussed during parliamentary sessions on August 20, 21, 25 and 26. Honoré Mirabeau read the declaration from the podium on August 26 and it was adopted on October 2. While riots were raging, Louis XVI approved the text on October 5, 1789, with much prodding from the Marquis de La Fayette. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of August 26, 1789, is one of the fundamental texts included in the preamble to the French constitution of October 1958. Presented here is the first printed edition, from the collections of the National Library of France.

Date Created

Publication Information

Mondharre & Jean, Paris


Title in Original Language

Declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen : décrétés par l'Assemblée nationale, dans les séances, des 20, 21, 25 et 26 aout 1789, sanctionnés par le roi


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 etching ; 48.5 x 34.5 centimeters

Last updated: September 18, 2015