Society of the Rights of Man

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Society of the Rights of Man
Société des droits de l'homme
Leader Various
Founded 1830 (1830)
Dissolved 1840 (1840)
Headquarters Paris and Lyon
Newspaper La Tribune des départements
Membership (1830) 4,000 (Paris)
Ideology Republicanism
Political position Left-wing
Slogan Liberté, égalité, fraternité

The Society of the Rights of Man (French: Société des droits de l'homme, SDH), was a French republican association with Jacobin roots, formed during the July Revolution in 1830, replacing another republican association, the Society of the Friends of the People. It played a major role in the June riots of 1832 in Paris and July Monarchy.


The SDH was modelled on another French secret Society, the Charbonnerie, organised in small groups of less than twenty members, each given names that evoked Jacobin tradition: 'Robespierre', 'Marat', 'Babeuf', 'Louvel', 'Blackjack January', 'War with the castles', 'Washington', etc. They were a nationwide organisation, consisting of group sizes of between 10 and less than 20 members, this allowed them to circumvent the law which required a permit for groups of more than 20 members (this law was amended in February 1834). They were the first organisation to extend its educational activities to the working class.[1]

In Paris, there were 170 groups with a total of approximately 3 000 members. Its network extended into the province and would account, according to then police reports, approximately 4 000 members.

The official publication of the organisation was La Tribune des départements published by Armand Marrast. It published very revolutionary articles often insulting the King Louis-Philippe and its government.

Members and principles[edit]

The management committee of the SDH was made up of representatives of the extreme-left like Audry de Puyraveau or Voyer d' Argenson, and of young republican militants such as Éléonore-Louis Godefroi Cavaignac, Joseph Sobrier or Joseph Guinard. Moderates included Antoine Richard du Cantal, the German writer Georg Büchner (author of Woyzeck, amongst other) [2] although this is not proven.

But soon the radical elements gained the upper hand and published a manifest on "Société des droits de l'homme' in the journal La Tribune on October 22, 1833 demanding a return to a government along Jacobin principles- strict secularity, economic and educational leadership of the state, strict limitation of private property; nationalization and planning of the economy; etc. And insurrection and revolution was the way to achieve this goal.

In 1834, Jacques-Charles Dupont de l'Eure a lawyer and member of the Society associated the three famous terms- "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" together and published it in the Revue Républicaine which he edited: "Any man aspires to liberty, to equality, but he can not achieve it without the assistance of other men, without fraternity." [3]

Activities and History[edit]

During the funeral of General Lamarque riots broke out on June 5–6, 1832 organised by the Society. These were brutally put down by the police. Further riots followed in Lyons and Paris in 1834. In April 1834, there were serious disturbances broke out in Paris following the passing of a law to curtail the activities of the Republican Society of Human Rights (changing the allowed group sizes) which spread to Lyons. The disturbances were brutally put down by the army. It took 13,000 police and 4 days of fighting to put down the riot. All people living in an apartment block in the Rue Transnonain from where reportedly shots had been fired were massacred.,.[4][5]

This event was "caricatured" by the journal La Caricature under its editor Charles Philipon, specifically in a lithograph by its prized satirical draughtsman Honoré Daumier, entitled Rue Transnonain, le 15 Avril 1834.[6] According to a slightly different account, the lithograph was designed for the subscription publication L’Association Mensuelle. The profits were to promote freedom of the press and defrayed legal costs of a lawsuit against the satirical, politically progressive journal Le Charivari to which Daumier contributed regularly. The police discovered the print hanging in the window of printseller Ernest Jean Aubert in the Galerie Véro-Dodat (a passageway in 1st arrondissement) and subsequently tracked down and confiscated as many of the prints they could find, along with the original lithographic stone on which the image was drawn. Existing prints of are survivors of this effort.[7]

On July 28, 1835 a Corsican member of the Society Giuseppe Marco Fieschi, together with 2 compatriots attempted an assassination on King Louis Philippe I using an "infernal machine" consisting of 20 gun-barrels bound and detonated together. Although 17 people died, the King survived. Fieschi himself was injured, captured, nursed back to health only to be sentenced and subsequently guillotined.[8]

Notable members[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Harsin, Jill, 'Barricades: The War of the Streets in Revolutionary Paris, 1830-1848', Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2002, ISBN 978-0-312-29479-3
  •, (2014)., site d’histoire sociale - Chronologie . [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Oct. 2014]. In French. Translation at


  1. ^ James H. Billington (31 December 2011). Fire in the Minds of Men: Origins of the Revolutionary Faith. Transaction Publishers. ISBN 978-1-4128-1401-0.
  2. ^ "Georg Buchner - Penguin Classics Authors - Penguin Classics". Retrieved 2014-10-07.
  3. ^ Ozouf, Mona (1997), "Liberté, égalité, fraternité stands for peace country and war", in Nora, Pierre, Lieux de Mémoire [Places of memory] (in French), tome III, Quarto Gallimard, pp. 4353–89 (abridged translation, Realms of Memory, Columbia University Press, 1996–98).
  4. ^ Lucien Bély (1 January 2001). The History of France. Editions Jean-paul Gisserot. ISBN 978-2-87747-563-1.
  5. ^ "Catalan biography". Retrieved 2014-10-07.
  6. ^ "British Museum - Highlight image". Retrieved 2014-10-07.
  7. ^ "Rue Transnonain, 15 April 1834". An Introduction to 19th Century Art. Retrieved 2014-10-07.
  8. ^ Christopher Summerville (14 January 2014). Who was Who at Waterloo: A Biography of the Battle. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-86819-4.