The immediate issue at Versailles was that of voting procedures: should the Estates-General meet in three separate chambers or in a common assembly? The Third Estate deputies refused to vote separately, but the nobility were clearly in favour of this, as, very narrowly, were the clergy. The resolve of the bourgeois deputies was strengthened by defections from the privileged orders, particularly by parish priests. On 17 May the deputies of the Third Estate declared that 'the interpretation and presentation of the general will belong to it…. The name National Assembly is the only one which is suitable'. Three days later, finding themselves locked out of their meeting hall (apparently by accident), the deputies moved to a nearby indoor royal tennis court and, under the presidency of the astronomer Jean-Sylvain Bailly, insisted by oath on their 'unshakeable resolution' to continue to act as the national representation. Only one deputy voted against the motion.
M. Mounier presents an opinion that is supported by MM. Target, Chapelier and Barnave; he points out how strange it is that the hall of the Estates-General is occupied by armed men; that other premises have not been offered to the National Assembly; that its president was only informed by letters from the Marquis de Brezé, and the national representatives by notices; that they have finally been obliged to meet at the Jeu de Paume, rue de Vieux-Versailles, so as not to interrupt their work; that, their rights and their dignity wounded, aware of the great intensity of the intrigue and of the relentlessness of the efforts to push the king to take disastrous measures, the representatives of the nation must bind themselves to the public good and the interests of the nation though a solemn oath.
This proposition is approved through universal applause.
The Assembly immediately decides the following: