Regulations of the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women (9 July 1793)

The regulations demonstrate that women wanted to be taken seriously as political participants; they wanted their club to be like the clubs set up by men.


Convinced that there is no liberty without customs and principles, and that one must recognize one's social duties in order to fulfill one's domestic duties adequately, the Revolutionary Republican citoyennes have formed a Society to instruct themselves, to learn well the Constitution and laws of the Republic, to attend to public affairs, to succor suffering humanity, and to defend all human beings who become victims of any arbitrary acts whatever. They want to banish all selfishness, jealousies, rivalry, and envy and to make good their [Society's] name.

But besides the spirit and principle of a Society, there still must be a particular rule which lays down all the conditions of the Society; consequently they [the Revolutionary Republicans [citoyennes]] have drawn up the following regulations:

Article I.

The Society's purpose is to be armed to rush to the defense of the Fatherland; citoyennes are nonetheless free to arm themselves or not.

II.

The Society shall have a President, a Vice-President, and four Secretaries, who will be changed on the first Sunday of every month; they can be reelected only after two months. The functions of the President are to preside over the Society, to respond to deputations, and to assure that the regulations are observed.

III.

The functions of the Secretaries are to maintain a register of all the deliberations of the Society and to keep up its correspondence under the President's direction; in addition to these regular functions they will keep a register of the members of the Society and the names of affiliated societies; a catalog of these will be exhibited in the meeting room.

IV.

Two monitors will be appointed by acclamation. One will be at the entrance to the room to make all persons who enter show their cards, and the other will be in the meeting room to maintain order. They will be changed with the officers.

V.

The President will wear the bonnet of liberty, and the two monitors will wear a ribbon of the nation on their left arm. When the President is unable to establish order with the bell, she will take off her bonnet; then all the citoyennes will rise and remain standing until she puts her bonnet on again.

VI.

There will be a Treasurer and two Assistant Treasurers who will be responsible for one another. Their nominations will be made the second Sunday of the month, and they will remain in office for three months.

VII.

The Treasurer will report every month to the administrative committee, and this committee will report to the Society. There will be no expenditures that the Society has not approved.

VIII.

There will be an Archivist and an Assistant Archivist; they will be responsible for one another. Their functions are limited to putting the papers of the Society in the best order. They will retain their posts for three months. All the papers will be numbered. At the end of their tenure they will give to the administrative committee an account of the papers they have received; the committee will give them a receipt if they are in order, and if not, will make a report of it.

IX.

There will be three committees: Administration, Relief, and Correspondence. Each committee will have twelve members, of whom six will leave at the end of three months and will be replaced by the Society.

X.

All the elections, above mentioned, will be by roll-call vote, and the others, as for commissioners, will be made by the officers.

XI.

The Society, considering it important to save the acts and proceedings of its sessions, has decreed that minutes be kept for all sessions and that they be signed by the President and at least two of the Secretaries.

XII.

The Society, believing that people should join together only for mutual honor, support, and encouragement in virtue, has decreed that it will receive in its midst only those citoyennes of good habits; it has made this the most essential condition for admission and has resolved that the lack of good habits is one of the principal reasons for exclusion.

XIII.

Citoyennes who seek admission to the Society are to be presented by one member and supported by two others. At the following meeting their names will be proclaimed and posted. They will be admitted if no one raises objections; if any objections are raised, their admission will be postponed. The committee of correspondence will listen to the various objections and present its report to the Society, which in its wisdom will judge the denunciations made by certain citoyennes who will be directed to sign them.

XIV.

When the list of members-elect has been announced, posted, and put to a vote in the Society, the Secretaries will deliver a card to the person admitted, inscribing her on the register of the Society's members.

XV.

All newly received citoyennes will be summoned by the President, in the name of the Society, to take the following oath: "I swear to live for the Republic or die for it; I promise to be faithful to the Rule of the Society as long as it exists."

XVI.

Those citoyennes who are to take the oath will place themselves in the order in which they were called before the Secretaries' desk; then the President, in the name of the Society, will read them the formula of the oath while they hold up their right hands; at the end they will speak out, into the respectful silence which should prevail at that moment, "I swear it."

XVII.

All packets sent to the Society are only to be opened by the President or, if she is absent, by her substitute, who can only be a former President or a Secretary then holding office.

XVIII.

All correspondence will be signed by the President and the Secretaries with the seal of the Society, and the Committee of Correspondence is responsible for sending the decrees that the Society deems proper to be circulated to affiliated societies or any other places.

XIX.

All the members of the Society make up a family of sisters, and since an arbitrary act against one of its members must attack the whole Society, the one who suffered the violation of the laws is urged to inform the Society, which will obtain justice for her.

XX.

No member may borrow the card of anyone whatever, under penalty of exclusion from the Society for one month and even loss of her rights of entry if she repeats the violation.

XXI.

No citoyennes may place themselves on the dais, not even those who left their place, unless they are called there by the President.

XXII.

No collection will be made unless the Committee on Relief has reported on a request it received and has determined whether the petitioners have rights to the charity of the Society.

XXIII.

No deputation can be admitted unless it has first shown its authorization to the President, who will sign it along with two of the Secretaries.

XXIV.

Out of respect for the Societies represented by the deputations, they will be heard as soon as they are introduced and will be suitably seated opposite the President in a place always kept vacant. The monitors are charged not to allow members of the Society to occupy that place.

XXV.

No one may occupy any seat unless she has been a member of the Society for at least three months; the monitors, who are not considered seated, are exempt from the above formalities.

XXVI.

Believing that no member can be denied the right to speak and that young citoyennes could, with the best of intentions, compromise the Society with ill-considered motions, the Society decrees that one must be eighteen years old to be received as a member; however, mothers may bring children younger than eighteen, but they will have no right to deliberate.

XXVII.

The Society, considering that at times some citoyennes would want to attend, although they were not members, decrees that a citoyenne requesting entry may be admitted if she is supported by two other members of the Society, provided no objections are raised.

The Society, having heard the above regulations, approved them on 9 July, Year II of the Republic.

Signed:

Rousaud, President

Potheau

L. Monier Secretaries

Pauline Leon

Source: From Women in Revolutionary Paris, 1789–1795, edited and translated by by Darline Gay Levy, Harriet Branson Applewhite, and Mary Durham Johnson. Copyright 1979 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. Used with the permission of the University of Illinois Press, 161–165.