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Constitutions of Texas 1824-1876

Article XII: General Provisions

ARTICLE XII.beginning page of Article XII


SECTION I. 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 has been removed by an Act of Congress;) and further, that I am a qualified elector in this State."

SECTION II. 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, penury, forgery, or other high crimes. The privilege of free suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating elections, and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon, from power, bribery, tumult, or other improper practice.

SECTION III. 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.

SECTION IV. 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.

SECTION V. The Legislature shall provide, by law, for the 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.

SECTION VI. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in pursuance of specific appropriation 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 appropriations 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 provided 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.

SECTION VII. Absence on business of the State, or of the United States, shall not forfeit a residence once obtained, so as to deprive any one of the right of suffrage, or being elected or appointed to any office, under the exceptions contained in this Constitution.

SECTION VIII. 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.

SECTION IX. 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.

SECTION X. The Legislature shall provide for a change of venue in civil and criminal cases.

SECTION XI. 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.

SECTION XII. 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.

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

SECTION XIV. The rights of married women to their separate property, real and personal, and the increase of the same, shall be protected by law; 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.

SECTION XV. 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 five thousand dollars in value, at the time of their destination as a homestead, and without reference to the value of any improvements thereon, shall not be subject to forced sale for debts, except they be for the purchase 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.

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

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

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

SECTION XIX. Taxation shall be equal and uniform throughout the State. All property in the 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 levy 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.

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

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

SECTION XXII. 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.

SECTION XXIII. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to provide by law, 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 the principal and interest are fully paid.

SECTION XXIV. 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; and in all cases where, from the want 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.

SECTION XXV. Annual pensions may be provided for the surviving veterans of the revolution which separated Texas from Mexico; and for those permanently disabled in the service of the United States during the late rebellion, provided they entered the service from this Service.

SECTION XXVI. 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 offenses in the county, may be committed to such Manual Labor Poor House, for correction and employment.

SECTION XXVII. All persons who, at any time heretofore, lived together as husband and wife, and both of whom, by the law of bondage, 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 cohabitation 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, or hereafter, born of such cohabitations, shall be deemed legitimate.

SECTION XXVIII. Justices of the Peace shall assess the property in their respective precincts, under such laws as shall be provided and enacted by the Legislature; and the Sheriffs of the several counties of this State shall collect the taxes so assessed.

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

SECTION XXX. Every person, corporation, or company, that may commit a homicide through willful 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 and consecutively, without regard to any criminal proceeding that may or may not be had in relation to the homicide.

SECTION XXXI. No minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatever, who accepts a seat in the Legislature, as Representative, shall, after such acceptance, be allowed to claim exemption from military service, road duty, or serving on juries, by reason of his said profession.

SECTION XXXII. The Inferior 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.

SECTION XXXIII. The ordinance of the Convention passed on the first day of February, A. D. 1861, commonly know as the Ordinance of Secession, was in contravention of the Constitution and laws of the United States, and therefore, null and void from the beginning; and all laws, and parts of laws, founded upon said ordinance, were also null and void from the date of their passage. The Legislatures which sat in the State of Texas, from the 18th day of March, A. D. 1861, until the 6th day of August, A. D. 1866, had no constitutional authority to make laws binding upon the people of the State of Texas; provided, that this section shall not be construed to inhibit the authorities of this State from respecting and enforcing such rules and regulations as were prescribed by the said Legislatures, which were not in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States, or in aid of the rebellion against the United States, or prejudicial to the citizens of this State who were loyal to the United States, and which have been actually in force or observed in Texas during the above period of time; nor to affect, prejudicially, private rights which may have grown up under such rules and regulations; nor to invalidate official acts, not in aid of the rebellion against the United States, during said period of time. The Legislature which assembled in the city of Austin on the 6th day of August, A. D. 1866, was provisional only, and its acts are to be respected only so far as they were not in violation of the Constitution and laws of the United States; or were not intended to reward those who participated in the late rebellion; or to discriminate between citizens on account of race or color; or to operate prejudicially to any class of citizens.

SECTION XXXIV. All debts created by the so-called State of Texas, from and after the 28th day of January, A. D. 1861, and prior to the 5th day of August, 1865, were, and are null and void; and the Legislature is prohibited from making any provision for the acknowledgment or payment of such debts. All unpaid balances, whether of salary, per diem, or monthly allowance, due to employees of the State, who were in the service thereof, on the said 28th day of January, 1861, civil or military, and who gave their aid, countenance or support, to the rebellion then inaugurated against the government of the United States, or turned their arms against the said government, thereby forfeited the sums severally due to them. All the ten per cent. warrants issued for military services, and exchanged during the rebellion, at the Treasury, for non-interest warrants, are hereby declared to have been fully paid and discharged; provided, that any loyal person, or his or her heirs or legal representative, 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 said 28th day of January, 1861, when, through fraud practiced, or threats of violence used towards such persons, no adequate consideration for the contract has been received; or when, through absence from the State of such person, or through political prejudice against such person, or through political prejudice against such person, the decision complained of was not fair or impartial.

SECTION XXXV. 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.

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

SECTION XXXVII. No divorce shall be granted by the Legislature.

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

SECTION XXXIX. 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 war, but in a manner prescribed by law.

SECTION XL. 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 or cities--including sales for taxes.

SECTION XLI. 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.

SECTION XLII. 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 or position of honor, trust or profit, under the State, or the United States, except as prescribed in this Constitution.

SECTION XLIII. 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.

SECTION XLIV. 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.

SECTION XLV. All the qualified votes of each county shall also be qualified jurors of such county.

SECTION XLVI. It shall be the duty of the Legislature, after the adoption of this Constitution, to levy a special road tax upon the taxable property of all persons in this State, and appropriate the same to the building of bridges, and the improvement of the public roads in the different counties in the State, under such rules and regulations as the Legislature shall provide; and no law shall be passed requiring the personal services of any portion of the people on the public roads.

SECTION XLVII. Mechanics and artisans of every class, shall have a lien upon the articles manufactured or repaired by them, for the value of their labor done thereon, or materials furnished therefor; and the Legislature shall provide by law for the speedy and efficient enforcement of said liens.

SECTION XLVIII. 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.

SECTION XLIX. The Legislature shall give effect to the foregoing general provisions, and all other provisions of this Constitution, which require Legislative action, according to their spirit and intent, by appropriate acts, bills or joint resolutions.

SECTION L. The Legislature, whenever two-thirds of each House shall deem it necessary, may propose amendments shall be duly published in the public prints of this State, at least three months before the next general election of Representatives, for the consideration of the people; and it shall be a 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.

(Transcription, errors in original preserved)

Article XII, Section I

Article XII, Section I

Article XII, Sections I-V

Article XII, Sections I-V

Article XII, Sections V-XII

Article XII, Sections V-XII

Article XII, Sections XII-XIX

Article XII, Sections XII-XIX

Article XII, Sections XIX-XXIV

Article XII, Sections XIX-XXIV

Article XII, Sections XXIV-XXX

Article XII, Sections XXIV-XXX

Article XII, Sections XXX-XXXIII

Article XII, Sections XXX-XXXIII

Article XII, Sections XXXIII-XXXVIII

Article XII, Sections XXXIII-XXXVIII

Article XII, Sections XXXIX-XLVI

Article XII, Sections XXXIX-XLVI

Article XII, Sections XLVI-L

Article XII, Sections XLVI-L