Skip to Main Content
Tarlton Law Library logo Texas Law Home Tarlton Law Library Home
Today's Operating Hours:

Constitutions of Texas 1824-1876

Preamble - Article I: Bill of Rights

CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF TEXAS.beginning page of Preamble-Article I


WE, THE PEOPLE OF TEXAS, acknowledging with gratitude the grace of God, in permitting us to make a choice of our form of government, do hereby ordain and establish this Constitution:




That the heresies of nullification and secession, which brought the country to grief, may be eliminated from future political discussion; that public order may be restored, private property and human life protected; and the great principles of liberty and equality secured to us and our posterity, We declare that:


SECTION I. The Constitution of the United States, and the laws and treaties made, and to be made, in pursuance thereof, are acknowledged to be the supreme law; that this Constitution is framed in harmony with, and in subordination thereto; and that the fundamental principles embodied herein can only be changed, subject to the national authority.

SECTION II. All freemen, when they form a social compact, have equal rights; and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments or privileges.

SECTION III. No religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office of public trust in this State.

SECTION IV. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship; or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion; and no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious societies or mode of worship. But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of their own mode of public worship.

SECTION V. Every citizen shall be a liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege; and no law shall ever be passed curtailing the liberty of speech or of the press.

SECTION VI. In prosecutions for the publication of papers, investigating the official conduct of officers, or of men in a public capacity, or when the matter published is proper for public information, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all prosecutions for libels, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the Court, as in other cases.

SECTION VII. The people shall be secured in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions, from all unreasonable seizures or searches; and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue, without describing such place, person or thing, as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation

SECTION VIII. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have a speedy public trial, by an impartial jury. He shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself. He shall have the right of being heard by himself, or by counsel, or both; shall be confronted with the witnesses against him, and shall have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor: and no person shall be holden to answer for any criminal charge, but on indictment or information, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces or offenses against the laws regulating the militia.

SECTION IX. All prisoners shall be bailable upon sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses, when the proof is evident; but this provision shall not be so construed as to prohibit bail after indictment found, upon an examination of the evidence by a Judge of the Supreme or District Court, upon the return of the writ of habeas corpus, returnable in the county where the offense is committed.

SECTION X. The privileges of the writ of habeas coprus shall not be suspended, except by act of Legislature, in case of rebellion or invasion, when the public safety may require it.

SECTION XI. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel nor unusual punishments inflicted. All courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law.

SECTION XII. No person, for the same offense, shall be twice put in jeopardy of life; nor shall a person be again put upon trial for the same offense, after a verdict of not guilty; and the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.

SECTION XIII. Every person shall have the right to keep and bear arms, in the lawful defence of himself or the State, under such regulations as the Legislature may prescribe.

SECTION XIV. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, retroactive law, or any law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made; and no person's property shall be taken, or applied to public use without just compensation being made, unless by the consent of such person; nor shall any law be passed depriving a party of any remedy for the enforcement of a contract, which existed when the contrac twas made.

SECTION XV. No person shall ever be imprisoned for debt.

SECTION XVI. No citizen of this State shall be deprived of life, liberty, property, or privileges, outlawed, exiled, or in any manner disfranchised, except by due course of the law of the land.

SECTION XVII. The military shall at all times by subordinate to the civil authority.

SECTION XVIII. Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free government, and shall never be allowed; nor shall the law of primogeniture or entailment ever be in force in this State.

SECTION XIX. The people shall have the right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good; and to apply to those invested with powers of government for redress of grievances, or other purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.

SECTION XX. No power of suspending laws in the State shall be exercised, except by the Legislature, or its authority.

SECTION XXI. The equality of all persons before the law is herein recognized, and shall ever remain inviolate; nor shall any citizen ever be deprived of any right, privilege, or immunity, nor be exempted from any burdens, or duty, on account of race, color, or previous condition.

SECTION XXII. Importations of persons under the name of "coolies," or any other name or designation, or the adoption of any system of peonage, whereby the helpless and unfortunate may be reduced to practical bondage, shall never be authorized, or tolerated by laws of the State; and neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall ever exist in the State.

SECTION XXIII. To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare that every thing in this Bill of Rights is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.

(Transcription, errors in original preserved)

Preamble; Article I, Section I

Preamble; Article I, Section I

Article I, Sections I-VIII

Article I, Sections I-VIII

Article I, Sections VIII-XVI

Article I, Sections VIII-XVI

Article I, Sections XVI-XXIII

Article I, Sections XVI-XXIII