Constitution of 1845

The Constitution of 1845 was almost twice as long as the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. The writers, members of the Convention of 1845, got ideas from the Constitution of Louisiana and on the constitution drawn by the Convention of 1833.

The legislative department was composed of a Senate from nineteen to thirty-three members and a House of Representatives from forty-five to ninety members. Senators were elected for four years and had to be at least thirty years old. Representatives, elected for two years, had to be at least twenty-one years old.

The governor’s term was two years. He had to be a citizen, a resident of Texas for at least three years before his election, and he had to be at least thirty years old. He appointed the attorney general, secretary of state, and supreme and district court judges. His nominations had to be confirmed by the Senate. The comptroller and treasurer were elected by a joint session of the legislature. The governor could assemble and adjourn the legislature. He was the commander-in-chief of the militia, and could grant pardons and reprieves. His veto could be overruled by two-thirds of both houses.

The judiciary consisted of a Supreme Court, district courts, and inferior courts that the legislature thought were needed. Judges of the higher courts were appointed by the governor for six-year terms. The Supreme Court was made up of three judges. Supreme and district judges could be removed by the governor. A district attorney for each district was elected by joint vote of both houses and served for two years. County officers were elected for two years by popular vote. Trial by jury was extended to civil and criminal cases.

The longest article of the constitution was Article VII, on General Provisions. Most of the sections were limitations on the legislature. One section prohibited the holding of office by any citizen who had ever participated in a duel. Bank corporations were prohibited, and the legislature was not allowed to authorize individuals to issue bills, checks, promissory notes, or other paper to circulate as money. The state debt was limited to $100,000, except in case of war, insurrection, or invasion. Section XIX recognized the separate ownership by married women of all real and personal property owned before marriage or acquired afterwards by gift or inheritance.

In the article on education the legislature was directed to make suitable provision for support and maintenance of public schools, and ten percent of the revenue from taxation was set aside as a Permanent School Fund. School lands were not to be sold for twenty years but could be leased, the income from the leases would become part of the Available School Fund.

By a two-thirds vote of each house an amendment to the constitution could be proposed. If a majority of the voters approved the amendment and two-thirds of both houses of the next legislature approved it, the measure became a part of the constitution. Only one amendment was ever made to the Constitution of 1845. It provided for the election of state officials formerly appointed by the governor or the legislature.

The constitution was accepted by the United States on December 29, 1845.

Source: Constitution of 1845
Copyright © Texas State Historical Association

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