5 The Constitutions of Texas

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Discuss the constitutions of Texas
  • Describe the current constitution of Texas

Constitutions of Texas

Texas has been governed by multiple constitutions.

  • The Mexican Constitution of 1824
    • Texas was part of Mexico
    • Called for an official religion (Catholicism)
  • The Constitution of Coahuila and Texas, 1827
    • First state constitutions under Mexican rule
  • The Texas Constitution of 1836
    • Texas gains their independence, becomes their own country (Republic of Texas)
  • The Texas Constitution of 1845
    • US Annexation of Texas
    • Texas is pre-approved to split up in to as much as 5 states
  • The Texas Constitution of 1861
    • Texas secedes from the Union and joins the Confederate States of America
  • The Texas Constitution of 1866
    • Adopted as a condition for readmission to the United States of America
  • The Texas Constitution of 1869
    • State constitution rewritten to abide by Reconstruction policies
    • Created a powerful Texas Governor
  • The Texas Constitution of 1876
    • current state constitution

Texas Constitution of 1876

Texas Democrats gained control of Congress in 1873 and decided it was time to draft a new constitution for Texas. The Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875 met in Austin with the purpose of replacing the Constitution of 1869- it was believed that the new constitution should restrict the state government and hand the power back to the people. Some examples of how the government was restricted were[1]:

  • Legislative sessions moved from annual to biennial sessions
  • Creation of a plural executive
  • Mandated a balanced budget
  • State Judges would be elected by the people
  • The people would vote on the ratification of amendments

The structure of the current constitution of Texas (Constitution of 1876) is a Preamble, 17 Articles, and 491 Amendments (Since 2015)[2]. The Texas Constitution does not contain a “necessary and proper clause” like the U.S. Constitution, therefore making it the second longest state constitution in America (2nd only to Alabama’s).

  • Article 1: Bill of Rights
    • Similar civil liberties and civil rights as in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights
  • Article 2: The Powers of the Government
    • Establishes three branches of government with separation of powers
  • Article 3: Legislative Department
    • Specifics about the Texas Legislator
  • Article 4: Executive Department
    • Specifics about the plural executive
  • Article 5: Judicial Department
    • Specifics about the Texas Judicial system
  • Article 6: Suffrage
    • Forbids the following from voting:
      • any non US citizen
      • any non-registered Texas voter
      • any convicted felon who has not completed their sentence
      • any person deemed mentally incompetent by the courts
  • Article 7: Education
    • Mandates an “efficient” free public school system
    • Established the Permanent School Fund
  • Article 8: Taxation and Revenue
    • Places limits on the raising and spending of public funds
  • Article 9: Counties
    • Authorizes the Texas Legislature to create county governments
  • Article 10: Railroads
    • Regulated the railroad system
  • Article 11: Municipal Corporations
    • Specifics regarding local governments, including empowering them to tax, and how to charter cities
  • Article 12: Private Corporations
    • Specifics regarding private businesses, including how they would be regulated
  • Article 13: Spanish and Mexican Land Titles
    • Specifics on what which land with previous claims would become state property
  • Article 14: Public Lands and Land Office
    • Established the Land Office which regulated land titles
  • Article 15: Impeachment
    • Specifics on how to remove a public official from office
  • Article 16: General Provisions
    • Miscellaneous regulations i.e. forbid Congress from printing money, forbid U.S. public officials from holding a state office
  • Article 17: Mode of Amending the Constitution of this State
    • 2/3rds proposal from Congress
    • Registered voters vote on approval, and with a majority vote the amendment is ratified

The entire Texas Constitution can be accessed at http://www.constitution.legis.state.tx.us/ 

  1. https://www.tsl.texas.gov/exhibits/forever/representation/page5.html
  2. http://www.constitution.legis.state.tx.us/


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