Active citizens

Active citizens

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Title: Active citizen card.

Creation date : 1790

Date shown: 1790

Dimensions: Height 19 - Width 12.8

Technique and other indications: Active citizen card bearing the number 107, established by the Paris section of Luxembourg for "Mr. Le Roy", July 1, 1790. This card bears the handwritten mention "inscribed national guard" and the signature of Lablée, administrator of the municipality .
AE / II / 3641 Printed

Storage location: Historic Center of the National Archives website

Contact copyright: © Historic Center of the National Archives - Photo workshop website

Picture reference: AII / II / 3641

© Historic Center of the National Archives - Photography workshop

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

The conditions of suffrage

Sieyès makes the distinction between "active citizens" and "passive citizens". The "passive citizens" cannot be voters: women, indictments, bankrupts, insolvent and domestic workers, particularly numerous at the time, who were excluded from the right to vote as non-independent citizens.

To be an “active citizen”, you must be at least 25 years old, have resided in the city or canton for at least one year, be registered on the roll of the national guard in the municipality of residence, have taken the civic oath and acquitted the payment of a direct contribution equal to three working days.

However, the “active citizens” of 1790 are estimated at over four million, a considerable figure if we compare it to the 200,000 electors of Louis-Philippe's France fifty years later. This difference arises from the fact that subsequent political regimes will raise the threshold for contributions required for active citizenship.

Image Analysis

Voter's card

Under the emblem of Paris, this map (13x19 cm) identifies Sieur Le Roy as an active citizen. It was established on July 1, 1790 by the Luxembourg section, one of the forty-eight sections of Paris defined by the law passed on May 21 by the Constituent Assembly, ratified by the king on June 27, 1790. That - this gives the sections an essentially electoral role of primary assemblies.

The handwritten mention: "Inscribed National Guard" indicates the link between the dignity of active citizen and civilian service in the National Guard.


The establishment of the new administrative organization in 1790

The regulation of political citizenship at the start of the Revolution is revealing of the ideas of 1789. The men of the Constituent Assembly decreed equality, but considered that the aptitude for government and for public life arises from independence and freedom. education, therefore property and ease.

The “active citizens” designate the voters of the second degree, level where the eligible ones are chosen who elect the new administration and form the new framework of the country.

  • Constituent Assembly
  • National Guard
  • Paris
  • Parisians
  • Louis Philippe
  • Abbot Sieyès
  • citizenship
  • Declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen


Francois FURET The Revolution 1770-1880 Paris, Hachette, 1988. Albert SOBOUL Historical Dictionary of the Revolution Paris, PUF, 1989

To cite this article

Luce-Marie ALBIGÈS, "Active citizens"

Video: Active Citizenship 101. Catherine Constantinides. TEDxWaterfallDrive