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The reform programmes of the
National Assembly
Local The le
Government syste al
The The
economy constitution
Taxation &
Finance The Church…read more

Slide 2

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Local Government
· The reforms to local government involved significantly restructuring it. The
deputies wanted to make sure that power was decentralised, passing from the
central government in Paris to the local authorities.
· This would make it much more difficult for the King to recover the power he
had held before the Revolution.
· They also wanted to ensure that the principle of democracy was introduced to
all levels ­ whereby officials would be elected and would be responsible to
those who elected them.
· By decrees of December 1789 and February 1790 France was divided into 83
departments, which were subdivided into 547 districts and 43.360 communes.
· Communes were subdivided into cantons, where primary assemblies for
elections were held and justices of the peace had their courts.
· All election were help and justices of the peace had their courts. All apart from
canons were run by elected councils.
· In Paris on 21st May 1790 the Constituent assembly passed a decree which
reorganised the local government of the city into 48 sections.…read more

Slide 3

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Local Government ­ the right to
· The reforms which revealed the real
intention of the assembly related to voting
· It became clear that deputies did not
intend that those who had taken part in the
popular protests should have a direct role
in government.
· A law in December 1789 introduced the
concept of `active citizens' of which there
were three tiers:…read more

Slide 4

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Local Government
· Men over 25 who paid the equivalent of three days labour in local taxes. It was
estimated in 1790 that almost 4.3 million Frenchmen fell into this category. Citizens
who did not pay this amount in taxes had no vote and were known as `passive
1 citizens'. In reality the only thing active citizens could do was to choose electors ­ the
second tier.
· Electors ­ active citizens who paid the equivalent of 10 days labour in local taxes.
About 50,000 men met this qualification and they elected members of the canton and
department assemblies and could become officials there. They also elected the
2 deputies to the National Assembly ­ the third tier.
· To be eligible to become a deputy in the National Assembly an `active citizen' had to
pay at least a marc d'argent ( a silver mark) the equivalent to 54 days manual labour
3 in direct taxation. This was way beyond the reach of most Frenchmen.…read more

Slide 5

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Local Government
· The electoral system was, therefore, heavily weighted
in favour of the wealthy.
· 61% had the right to vote ­ this is revolutionary
compared to the 4% in Britain.
· Most peasants has the right to vote and were qualified
to stand for office.
· Before 1789 government officials ran the provincial
administration, where there was not one elected
· In 1790 there were no government officials at the local
level: elected councils had totally replaced them.…read more

Slide 6

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Local Government ­ control of the
new councils
· In the south, Bourgeois landowners controlled the new councils. In the north,
the bourgeois was largely urban and took office in the towns, which left the
rural communes in the hands of labourers, small merchants and artisans.
· People belonging to social groups which had never held any public office now
had the opportunity of doing so. It is estimated that in the decade 1789-1799
about a million people were elected to councils and gained experience in local
· Their responsibilities proved more of a burden than the cahiers had asked for.
They included assessing and collecting direct taxes, maintaining law and
order, carrying out public works, seeing to the upkeep of churches and control
the National Guard. Later the legislation added to their duties, they had to
administer the clerical oath of loyalty, register births, marriages and deaths,
requisition grain AND keep an eye on anyone suspected of opposing the
· Many rural area governments had ineffective administration as they could not
fill the council with literate men. Therefore they didn't fulfil their duties properly.…read more

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