Constitution of the Year III

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Constitution of the Year III
Constitution 1795.jpg
Constitution of the Year III (1795).
Original title(in French) Constitution de l'an III

The Constitution of the Year III is the constitution that founded the Directory. Adopted by the convention on 5 Fructidor Year III (22 August 1795) and approved by plebiscite on 6 September. Its preamble is the Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and of the Citizen of 1795.

It remained in effect until the coup of 18 Brumaire (9 November 1799) effectively ended the Revolution and began the ascendancy of Napoleon Bonaparte. It was more conservative than the never-implemented, radically democratic and egalitarian French Constitution of 1793. The Constitution of the Year III established a liberal republic with a franchise limited to taxpayers, similar to that of the French Constitution of 1791; a bicameral legislature, made up of the (Council of Ancients and Council of 500) to slow down the legislative process, in reaction to the wild swings of policy resulting from the unicameral National Assembly, Legislative Assembly, and National Convention that had served as the effective national government of France for the past six years; and a five-man Directory, to constitute the executive branch. The central government retained great power, including emergency powers to curb freedom of the press and freedom of association. The Declaration of Rights and Duties of Mankind at the beginning of the constitution included an explicit ban on slavery. It was succeeded by the Constitution of the Year VIII, which established the Consulate.