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Constitution of the State of West Texas (1868)

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ARTICLE VII.

GENERAL PROVISIONS.


SEC. 1. The boundaries of the State of West Texas are hereby defined as commencing at a point in the Gulf of Mexico, three miles from the shore opposite the middle of the main channel of Pass Caballo, thence up the middle of said channel and of Matagorda Bay to the mouth of Colorado River, thence up the middle of the main channel of said river, with its meanders to the point where said river is intersected by the thirty-second parallel of North latitude, thence along said parallel to a point ___ miles west from said river, thence in a straight line to the junction of the Pecos river and Rio Grande, thence down the main channel of the Rio Grande, with its meanders, to the Gulf of Mexico, thence along parallel to the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, three miles from the land to the place of beginning.

SEC. 2. The Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and the treaties and laws of the United States, made in pursuance of said Constitution, are the supreme law of this State. The laws enacted by the Legislature of the State of Texas, previous to the twenty-eighth day of January, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, where they same are not in conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States, and are not changed by this Constitution, shall remain the law of this State until repealed or amended by the Legislature of the same; Provided that all laws or parts of laws which were enacted for the purpose of protecting or sustaining the institution of slavery, or which recognize any distinction among human beings in regard to their civil or political privileges, rights and duties, are to be considered null and void, and of no binding force.

SEC. 3. Members of the Legislature, and all officers, before they enter upon the duties of their offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation:--"I, [A. B.] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all duties incumbent on me as -----, according to the best of my skill and ability, and that I will support the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State. And I do further swear (or affirm) that since the acceptance of this Constitution by the Congress of the United States, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons, or committed an assault upon any person with deadly weapons, or sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, or acted as second in fighting a duel, or knowingly aided or assisted any one thus offending, either within this State or out of it; that I am not disqualified from holding office under the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, (or as the case may be, my disability to hold office under the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, have been removed by act of Congress,) and further, that I am qualified elector in this State.

SEC. 4. Every person shall be disqualified from holding any office of trust or profit in this State, who shall have been convicted of having given or offered a bribe to procure his election or appointment.

SEC. 5. Laws shall be made to exclude from office, serving on juries, and from the right of suffrage, those who shall hereafter be convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high crimes. The privilege of free suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating elections, and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, ail undue influence thereon from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practice.

SEC. 6. Any citizen of this State, who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, fight a duel with deadly weapons, or commit an assault upon any person with deadly weapons, or send or accept a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, either within this State or out of it, or who shall act as second, or knowingly aid and assist in any manner those thus offending, shall be deprived of the right of suffrage, or of holding any office of trust or profit under this State.

SEC. 7. In all elections by the people the vote shall be by ballot; and in all elections by the Senate and House of Representatives, jointly or separately, the vote shall be given viva voce, except in the election of their officers. In selecting all officers within this State, a plurality of votes shall elect.

SEC. 8. The Legislature shall provide by law for compensation of all officers, servants, agents, and public contractors, not provided for by this Constitution, and shall not grant extra compensation to any officer, agent, servant, or public contractor, after such public service shall have been performed, or contract entered into for the performance of the same; nor grant by appropriation or otherwise, any amount of money out of the Treasury of the State, to any individual on a claim real or pretended where the same shall not have been provided for by pre-existing law.

SEC. 9. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in pursuance of specific appropriations made by law; nor shall any appropriation of money be made for a longer term than two years, except for purposes of education; and no appropriation for private or individual purposes, or for purposes of internal improvement, shall be made without the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses of the Legislature. A regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published annually in such manner as shall be prescribed by law. And in no case shall the Legislature have the power to issue "Treasury Warrants," "Treasury Notes," or paper of any description intended to circulate as money.

SEC. 10. All civil officers shall reside within the State; and all district or county officers, within their districts or counties; and shall keep their offices at such places therein as may be required by law.

SEC. 11. The duration of all offices not fixed by this Constitution, shall never exceed four years.

SEC. 12. The Legislature shall have power to provide for deductions from the salaries of public officers, who may neglect the performance of any duty that may be assigned them by law.

SEC. 13. No member of Congress, nor person holding or exercising any office of profit or trust under the United States, or either of them, or under any foreign power, shall be eligible as a member of the Legislature, or hold or exercise any office of profit or trust under this State.

SEC. 14. The Legislature shall provide for a change of venue in civil and criminal cases; and for the erection of a Penitentiary at as early a day as practicable.

SEC. 15. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary and proper to decide differences by arbitration, when the parties shall elect that method of trial.

SEC. 16. Within five years after the acceptance of this Constitution, the laws, civil and criminal, shall be revised, digested, arranged, and published, in such manner as the Legislature shall direct; and a like revision, digest, and publication, shall be made every ten years thereafter.

SEC. 17. No lottery shall be authorized by this State; and the buying and selling of lottery tickets within this State is prohibited.

SEC. 18. No divorce shall be granted by the Legislature.

SEC. 19. All property, both real and personal of the wife, owned or claimed by her before marriage, and that acquired afterwards by gift, devise, or descent, and the increase of such property, shall be her separate property; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the wife, in relation as well to her separate property, as that held in common with her husband. Laws shall also be passed providing for the registration of the wife's separate property. And married women, infants and insane persons shall not be barred of their rights of property by adverse possession or law of limitation of less than seven years from and after the removal of each and all of their respective legal disabilities.

SEC. 20. The Legislature shall have power, and it shall be their duty to protect by law, from forced sale, a certain portion of the property of all heads of families. The homestead of a family, not to exceed two hundred acres of land (not included in a city, town or village,) or, any city, town or village, lot or lots, not to exceed in value in either case the sum of three thousand dollars at the time of their destination as a homestead, shall not be subject to forced sale for debts, except they be for the purchase money thereof, for the taxes assessed thereon, or for labor and materials expended thereon; nor shall the owner, if a married man, be at liberty to alienate the same, unless by the consent of the wife, and in such manner as may be prescribed by law. Provided that this exemption shall not take effect against debts in existence at the time of the destination of the homestead.

SEC. 21. The Legislature shall provide in what cases officers shall continue to perform the duties of their offices, until their successors shall be duly qualified.

SEC. 22. Every law enacted by the Legislature shall embrace but one object, and that shall be expressed in the title

SEC. 23. No law shall be revised or amended by reference to its title; but in such case the act revised, or section amended, shall be re-enacted and published at length.

SEC. 24. Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the State.--All property in this State shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as directed by law, except such property as two-thirds of both Houses of the Legislature may think proper to exempt from taxation. The Legislature shall have power to lay an income tax, and to tax all persons pursuing any occupation, trade or profession: Provided, that the term occupation shall not be construed to apply to pursuits, either agricultural or mechanical.

SEC. 25. The annual assessments made upon landed property shall be a lien upon the property, and interest shall run thereon upon each year's assessment.

SEC. 26. Landed property shall not be sold for the taxes due thereon, except under a decree of some court of competent jurisdiction.

SEC. 27. Provisions shall be made by the first Legislature for the condemnation and sale of all lands for taxes due thereon, and every five years thereafter, of all lands the taxes upon which have not been paid to that date.

SEC. 28. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to provide by law, that in all cases where State or county debt is created, adequate means for the payment of the current interest, and two per cent. as a sinking fund for the redemption of the principal; and all such laws shall be irrepealable until principal and interest are fully paid.

SEC. 29. No corporate body shall hereafter be created, renewed, or extended, with banking or discounting privileges. The Legislature shall prohibit by law individuals from issuing bills, checks, promisory notes, or other paper to circulate at money.

SEC. 30. The Legislature shall have the power to enact general charters, or acts of incorporation only. Two-thirds of the Legislature shall have power to revoke and repeal all private corporations by making compensation, if any in fact be due, for the franchise. The State shall not be part owner of the stock or property belonging to any corporation. No special charter shall hereafter be created, amended, renewed, or extended by the Legislature.

SEC. 31. The Legislature shall at the first session thereof, and may at any subsequent session, establish new counties for the convenience of the inhabitants of such new county or counties. Provided that no new county shall be established, which shall reduce the county or counties, or either of them, from which it shall be taken, to a less area than nine hundred square miles, unless by consent of two-thirds of the Legislature, nor shall any county be laid off of less contents. Every new county as to the right of suffrage and representation, shall be considered as part of the county or counties from which it was taken until entitled by numbers to the right of separate representation. No new county shall be laid off with less than one hundred and fifty qualified jurors, resident at the time therein, nor where the county (or counties) from which the new county is proposed to be taken, would thereby be reduced below that number of qualified jurors, or other cause, the courts cannot properly be held in any county, it shall be the duty of the District Judge to certify such fact to the Governor, and the Governor shall, by proclamation, attach such county for judicial purposes to that county, the county seat of which is nearest the county seat of the county so to be attached.

SEC. 32. An Assessor and Collector of Taxes shall be elected by the people of each Senatorial District, under such regulations as the Legislature may direct. These officers shall be subject to the supervision and control of the Comptroller, and may be removed by him for incompetency, or improper conduct. They may assess and collect county taxes until otherwise ordered by the Legislature; and the Legislature may separate these two offices in any one or all of the Districts. They shall hold their offices for four years. In case of vacancy in this office, the same may be filled by appointment of the Governor, on recommendation of the Comptroller, until the next general election.

SEC. 33. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in the house or within the enclosure of any individual, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in manner prescribed by law.

SEC. 34. All sales of landed property, made under decrees of Courts in this State, shall be offered to bidders in lots of not less than ten, nor more than forty acres, except in towns and cities, including sales for taxes.

SEC. 35. The Legislature shall pass appropriate laws to compel the maintenance and education of illegitimate children.

SEC. 36. Each county in the State shall provide, in such manner as may be prescribed by law, a Manual Labor Poor House, for taking care of, managing, employing and supplying the wants of its indigent and poor inhabitants; and under such regulations as the Legislature may direct, all persons committing petty offences in the county, may be committed to such Manual Labor Poor House for corrections and employment.

SEC. 37. All persons who, at anytime heretofore, lived together as husband and wife, and were precluded from the rites of matrimony, and continued to live together until the death of one of the parties, shall be considered as having been legally married; and the issue of such co-habitation shall be deemed legitimate. And all such persons as may be now living together in such relation, shall be considered as having been legally married, and the children heretofore, and hereafter, born of such co-habitation, shall be deemed legitimate.

SEC. 38. Provisions shall be made, under adequate penalties, for the complete registration of all births, deaths and marriages, in every organized county of this State.

SEC. 39. General laws, regulating the adoption of children, emancipation of minors, and the granting of divorces, shall be made; but no special law shall be enacted relating to particular or individual cases.

SEC. 40. The County Courts of the several counties in this State, shall have the power, upon a vote of two-thirds of the qualified voters of the respective counties, to assess and provide for the collection of a tax upon the taxable property, to aid in the construction of Internal Improvements, provided that said tax shall never exceed two per cent. upon the value of such property.

SEC. 41. All civil officers of this State shall be removable by an address of two-thirds of the members elect to each House of the Legislature, except those whose removal is otherwise provided for by this Constitution.

SEC. 42. The Accounting Officers of this State shall neither draw nor pay a warrant upon the Treasury, in favor of any person, for salary or compensation, as agent, officer or appointee, who holds, at the same time, any other office of position of honor, trust or profit, under the State or the United States, except as permitted in this Constitution.

SEC. 43. Every person, corporation, or company, that may commit a homicide through wilful act, or omission, shall be responsible in exemplary damages to the surviving husband, widow, heirs of his or her body, or such of them as there may be, separately or jointly, without regard to any criminal proceeding that may or may not be had in relation to the homicide.

SEC. 44. The Legislature may prohibit the sale of all intoxicating or spiritous liquors in the immediate vicinity of any College or Seminary of learning; provided said College or Seminary be located other than at a County seat or at the State Capital.

SEC. 45. The Legislature may pass protective laws, securing mechanics, artizans and laborers in the enjoyment of the fruits of their labor.

SEC. 46. Any loyal persons, or his heirs, or legal representatives, may, by proper legal proceedings, to be commenced within two years after the acceptance of this Constitution by the Congress of the United States, show proof in avoidance of any contract made, or revise, or annul any decree or judgment rendered since the 28th day of January, (1861,) eighteen hundred and sixty one, when, through fraud practiced, or threats or violence used toward such person, no adequate consideration for the contract has been received, or where, through absence from the State of such person, or through political prejudice against such person, the decision complained of was not fair or impartial.

SEC. 47. All persons offering themselves as security or bail for another, in any of the courts or offices of this State, shall append to their bond, or accompany their recognizance, with an affidavit, setting forth a description of their property, (or of sufficient of their property, to cover the amount for which they bind themselves,) and its value, and all encumbrances thereon, of every nature.

SEC. 48. The Legislature is authorized to provide reasonable laws of limitation, of civil and criminal actions, but these limitations in civil actions, must not be fixed at terms so short as to operate a deprivation of remedy, or encouragement of fraud.

SEC. 49. The Statutes of limitation of civil suits were suspended by the so-called act of Secession, of the 28th of January, 1861, and shall be considered as suspended within this State, until the acceptance of this Constitution by the United States Congress.

SEC. 50. All Usury laws are abolished in this State, and the Legislature is forbidden from making laws limiting the parties to contracts, in the amount of interest they may agree upon for loans of money, or other property; provided, this section is not intended to change the provisions of law, fixing rate of interest in contracts, where the rate of interest is not specified.

SEC. 51. The Legislature may pass suitable laws regulating mines and minerals, and securing to the discoverer and bona fide miner, the rights to work mines on either private or public land.

SEC. 52. The people of this State, being largely engaged in the business of grazing, the Legislature is directed to provide for the protection and development of the stock-raising interest. Provisions shall be made for the inspection of animals and hides sold within the State.

SEC. 53. The term "general election," as used in this Constitution, means any election for officers of the State, or of counties generally. The term "regular election," means the next election for the particular office, at the expiration of the proper term thereof. The term "legislature," when applied to a period of time, means the duration of the term of office of members of the House of Representatives.

SEC. 54. The separate ordinances accompanying this Constitution, apportioning Representatives and Senators, giving State aid to certain lines of Railroads, ordering elections, and defining the Judicial Districts, shall be considered as part of this Constitution, until changed by law.

MODE OF AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION.

SEC. 55. The Legislature, whenever two-thirds of each House shall deem it necessary, may propose amendments to this Constitution: which proposed amendments shall be duly published in the public prints of the State, at least three months before the next general election of Representatives, for the consideration of the people, and it shall be the duty of the several returning officers, at the next general election which shall be thus holden, to open a poll for, and make a return to the Secretary of State, of the names of all those voting for Representatives, who have voted on such proposed amendments, and, if thereupon it shall appear that a majority of those voting upon the proposed amendments, have voted in favor of such proposed amendments, and two-thirds of each House of the next Legislature, shall after such election, ratify the same amendments by yeas and nays, they shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as parts of this Constitution; Provided, that the said proposed amendments, shall, at each of the said sessions, have been read on three several days, in each House.