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Most people in the United States are aware that the federal government has a constitution that governs the different branches of government. Most people don’t know that states have their own constitutions as well. Southern states that were part of the Confederacy were required to draft and adopt new state constitutions before they were allowed to rejoin the United States. The constitutions had to declare the order of secession null and void, outlaw slavery, and provide civil rights to the newly freed slaves. At the end of Reconstruction (1876) Texas passed its constitution.
Both the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution share similar structure and begin with a preamble. It appears that the Texans used the U.S. Constitution as a guide when drafting their own constitution. The Texas Constitution is state specific in that it includes situations only found in Texas such as “Spanish and Mexican Land Titles”. The outlines to both Constitutions are listed below:
The Texas documents preamble is a simple introduction to the Constitution while the U.S. Constitution’s preamble serves to begin telling why the United States needs a constitution. For example, the U.S. Constitution’s preamble wording includes: “in Order to form a more perfect Union”
This shows why the document needed to be written. The sentence continues on mentioning justice and domestic tranquility in the purpose statement. The Texas Constitution’s preamble simply introduces the document” “Humbly invoking the blessing of Almighty God, the people of the State of Texas do ordain and establish this Constitution”
The Texas document includes a bill of rights in Article 1. The U.S. Constitution does not include a bill of rights as part of the Constitution. But, the U.S. has a Bill of Rights as a document separate from the Constitution.
It is important to note that those who drafted the Texas Constitution wrote into the document that the State is answerable only to the Federal Government. This is clearly stated in Article 1: “Texas is a free and independent State, subject only to the Constitution of the United States”
In the writing of this document the State of Texas set up their state government similar to the Federal Government. The Constitution includes parameters for establishing the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. Both Constitutions include guidelines for amending the Constitutions if needed.
The main difference between the two Constitutions is their focus. The U.S. Constitution was written long before the Texas Constitution and reflects the era in which it was written. Article 3, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution includes parameters for the prosecution of treason. During and after the American Revolution treason was a problem as many people were in favor of British rule in the colonies. Although incidents of treason do still occur, they are not as common in recent times.
The Texas Constitution contains provisions for handling situations unique to Texas. These unique situations include Spanish and Mexican Land Titles which the Constitution of the State of Texas nullified. The writers of the Texas document included wording that clarified that land contracts nullified by the Republic of Texas would also be nullified by the state of Texas.
The Constitution of the State of Texas goes further than the U.S. Constitution. The document includes guidelines for the establishment of free and appropriate education of children. It also includes provisions for funding education and appropriation of land for schools. Reflecting the Jim Crow laws of the time the Constitution of the State of Texas includes wording that allows for segregation:
“Separate schools shall be provided for the white and colored children, and impartial provision shall be made for both.”
The U.S. Constitution contains no such wording but does include wording that abolished slavery and clearly defines the rights of citizens (to include African Americans). The Texas Constitution contains no wording that would eliminate the statement quoted above.
It is apparent that the writers of the Constitution of the State of Texas used the U.S. Constitution as a guide line when drafting their own constitution. Many of the provisions in the Constitution reflect the state of affairs of the time period. This would include the legislation that allowed for segregation in schools. The lawmakers of Texas were required to draft and pass a state constitution before being allowed to rejoin the Union. It took the Texans until the end of Reconstruction to produce and adopt their own constitution.
American Psychological Association (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
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The Constitution of the United States of America, 1787.
The Constitution of the State of Texas, 1876.