Back to Basics: Constitutional Revision in Texas

Click the dates below for longer accounts of each revision episode from The Handbook of Texas Online. Click the constitution cover for the full constitutional text and images of the original documents from the Texas Constitutions Digitization Project.

Year and Description
Cover of the 1827 constitution. 1824-27 Following the Mexican War of Independence, the new Republic of Mexico in convention adopted the Constitution of 1824. It provided that each state in the Republic write its own constitution. The Legislature of the combined state of Coahuila and Texas published its Constitution in 1827.
Cover of the 1833 constitution. 1833 Misgovernment in Texas and civil war in Mexico led to a push for a new constitution for a separate state of Texas. Drafted by the Convention of 1833, the proposal was modeled on the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution. The Mexican government rejected the proposal and jailed Stephen F. Austin, who had carried it to Mexico City.
Cover of the 1836 constitution. 1836 Sparked by the Battle of Gonzales in 1835, the Texas Revolution organized in the Convention of 1836 at Washington-on-the-Brazos. It issued the Texas Declaration of Independence March 2, 1836, adopted the Constitution of the Republic of Texas fifteen days later, and appointed Sam Houston to head the Texas army.
Cover of the 1845 constitution. 1845 The Constitution of 1845 accompanied the petition of Texas for statehood in the United States. It drew on the Louisiana Constitution, the Constitution drafted in 1833, and the Constitution of the Republic. The United States accepted it on Dec. 29, 1845.
Cover of the 1861 constitution. 1861 The Secession Convention took a conservative approach to rewriting the Texas Constitution to ease the transition of Texas into the Confederacy. It adopted the Constitution of 1845, amended slightly to forbid freeing slaves, to require officials to swear loyalty to the Confederacy, and to make amendment easier.
Cover of the 1866 constitution. 1866 In compliance with presidential Reconstruction after the Civil War, the Convention of 1866 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution to increase the number, power, and salaries of government officials. It also provided for many public improvements. Because of popular opposition to increases in officials' salaries, the changes passed with just 54.6 percent support.
Cover of the 1869 constitution. 1868-69 The Constitutional Convention of 1868-69 was called to comply with the Congressional Reconstruction Acts of 1867, but disbanded before completing a constitution. Military authorities published what it had produced as the Constitution of 1869. Though ratified by voters, the Constitution sparked factional controversy in Texas since the Convention had met under federal pressure.
Cover of the 1876 constitution. 1876 A joint legislative committee drafted a new constitution in 1874. To forestall political concerns, the Legislature called a convention in 1875. It was dominated by Democrats determined to replace the unpopular 1869 Constitution and prevent the return of autocratic, centralized government symbolized by the Reconstruction administration of Governor E. J. Davis. The resulting Constitution, adopted by voters Feb. 15, 1876, remains the basic law of Texas.
No image available. 1974 Attempts at comprehensive revision of Texas's long and outdated Constitution came to a head in 1971 when the Legislature created a Constitutional Revision Commission and agreed to convene itself as a constitutional convention. This special legislative convention met in 1973-74. It drafted a constitution but disbanded in disagreement over the proposed revisions. In 1975 the Legislature approved a new constitution as eight amendments requiring voter approval. Voters defeated them all.
Source: Handbook of Texas Online; Texas Constitutions Digitization Project. (full source)