Paris Commune of 1789–94

Paris Commune of 1789–94


the body of urban self-government in Paris during the French Revolution.

On July 13, 1789, Parisian voters from the third estate organized a permanent committee at the Hôtel de Ville to serve as the municipal governing body. It was replaced by the Paris Commune, an elected body, on July 25. Under a new law adopted between May 21 and June 27, 1790, the Paris Commune was to be elected by the “active” citizens of the 48 sections into which Paris had been divided by law. “Active” citizenship was defined in terms of property and age.

From July 1789 to September 1791 most of the members of the Paris Commune, including Mayor J. S. Bailly, were Feuillants, representatives of the bourgeoisie favoring a constitutional monarchy. In the subsequent period (through the overthrow of the monarchy), the majority of the Commune’s members were bourgeois republicans, or Girondins (Mayor J. Pétion, for example). At the end of July 1792 a movement to depose the king and abolish the distinction between “active” and “passive” citizens developed at the level of the sections, which began to prepare for an uprising in early August 1792. On the night of August 10 the bourgeois republican Paris Commune was replaced by a new, insurgent Commune with a Jacobin majority. It played a major role in overthrowing the monarchy and in organizing the defense of Paris and of France against the attack by foreign interventionists.

The Paris Commune elected in November 1792 and headed by P.-G. Chaumette and J.-R. Hébert was an important revolutionary body during 1793 and 1794. As a result of the counterrevolutionary Thermidor coup (July 9–10, 1794), the Paris Commune was abolished and replaced by 12 independent municipal councils, and most of its members were executed.