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Constitution of the Republic of Texas (1836)

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GENERAL PROVISIONS.

SEC. 1. Laws shall be made to exclude from office, from the right of suffrage, and from serving on juries, those who shall hereafter be convicted of bribery, perjury, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

SEC. 2. Returns of all elections for officers who are to be commissioned by the President, shall be made to the Secretary of State of this Republic.

SEC. 3. The President and heads of Departments shall keep their offices at the seat of Government, unless removed by the permission of Congress, or unless, in cases of emergency in time of war, the public interest may require their removal.

SEC. 4. The President shall make use of his private seal until a seal of the Republic shall be provided.

SEC. 5. It shall be the duty of Congress, as soon as circumstances will permit, to provide, by law, a general system of education.

SEC. 6. All free white persons who shall emigrate to this Republic, and who shall, after a residence of six months, make oath before some competent authority that he intends to reside permanently in the same, and shall swear to support this Constitution, and that he will bear true allegiance to the Republic of Texas, shall be entitled to all the privileges of citizenship.

SEC. 7. So soon as convenience will permit, there shall be a penal code formed on principles of reformation, and not of vindictive justice; and the civil and criminal laws shall be revised, digested, and arranged under different heads; and all laws relating to land titles shall be translated, revised, and promulgated.

SEC. 8. All persons who shall leave the country for the purpose of evading a participation in the present struggle, or shall refuse to participate in it, or shall give aid or assistance to the present enemy, shall forfeit all rights of citizenship and such lands as they may hold in the Republic.

SEC. 9. All persons of color who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude, provide the said slave shall be the bona fide property of the person so holding said slave as aforesaid. Congress shall pass no laws to prohibit emigrants from the United States of America from bringing their slaves into the Republic with them, and holding them by the same tenure by which such slaves were held in the United States; nor shall Congress have power to emancipate slaves; nor shall any slave-holder be allowed to emancipate his or her slave or slaves, without the consent of Congress, unless he or she shall send his or her slave or slaves without the limits of the Republic. No free person of African descent, either in whole or in part, shall be permitted to reside permanently in the Republic, without the consent of Congress, and the importation or admission of Africans or negroes into this Republic, excepting from the United States of America, is forever prohibited, and declared to be piracy.

SEC. 10. All persons, (Africans, the descendants of Africans, and Indians excepted,) who were residing in Texas on the day of the Declaration of Independence, shall be considered citizens of the Republic, and entitled to all the privileges of such. All citizens now living in Texas, who have not received their portion of land, in like manner as colonists, shall be entitled to their land in the following proportion and manner: Every head of a family shall be entitled to one league and labor of land, and every single man of the age of seventeen and upwards, shall be entitled to the third part of one league of land. All citizens who may have, previously to the adoption of this Constitution, received their league of land as heads of families, and their quarter of a league of land as single persons, shall receive such additional quantity as will make the quantity of land received by them equal to one league and "labor" and one-third of a league, unless by bargain, sale, or exchange, they have transferred, or may henceforth transfer their right to said land, or a portion thereof, to some other citizen of the Republic; and in such case the person to whom such right shall have been transferred, shall be entitled to the same, as fully and amply as the person making the transfer might or could have been. No alien shall hold land in Texas, except by titles emanating directly from the Government of this Republic. But if any citizen of this Republic should die intestate or otherwise, his children or heirs shall inherit his estate, and aliens shall have a reasonable time to take possession of and dispose of the same, in a manner hereafter to be pointed out by law. Orphan children, whose parents were entitled to land under the colonization law of Mexico, and who now reside in the Republic, shall be entitled to all the rights of which their parents were possessed at the time of their death. The citizens of the Republic shall not be compelled to reside on the land, but shall have their lines plainly marked.

All orders of survey legally obtained by any citizen of the Republic, from any legally authorized commissioner, prior to the act of the late consultation closing the land offices, shall be valid. In all cases the actual settler and occupant of the soil shall be entitled, in locating his land, to include his improvement, in preference to all other claims not acquired previous to his settlement, according to the law of the land and this Constitution: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prejudice the rights of any citizen from whom a settler may hold land by rent or lease.

And whereas, the protection of the public domain from unjust and fraudulent claims, and quieting the People in the enjoyment of their lands, is one of the great duties of this Convention; and whereas the Legislature of the State of Coahuila and Texas having passed an act in the year eighteen hundred and thirty-four, in behalf of General John T. Mason, of New York, and another on the fourteenth day of March, eighteen hundred and thirty-five, under which the enormous amount of eleven hundred leagues of land has been claimed by sundry individuals, some of whom reside in foreign countries, and are not citizens of the Republic, which said acts are contrary to articles fourth, twelfth, and fifteenth of the laws of eighteen hundred and twenty-four of the General Congress of Mexico, and one of said acts, for that cause has, by the said General Congress of Mexico, been declared null and void: It is hereby declared that the said act of eighteen hundred and thirty-four, in favor of John T. Mason, and of the fourteenth of March, eighteen hundred and thirty-five, of the said Legislatue of Coahuila and Texas, and each and every grant founded thereon, is, and was from the beginning, null and void; and all surveys made under pretence of authority derived from said acts are hereby declared to be null and void; and all eleven-league claims, located within twenty leagues of the boundary line between Texas and the United States of America, which have been located contrary to the laws of Mexico, are hereby declared to be null and void; and whereas many surveys and titles to land have been made whilst most of the People of Texas were absent from home, serving in the campaign against Bexar, it is hereby declared that all the surveys and locations of land made since the act of the late consultation closing the land offices, and all titles to land made since that time, are and shall be null and void.

And whereas the present unsettled state of the country and the general welfare of the People demand that the operations of the land offices and the whole land system shall be suspended until persons serving in the army can have a fair and equal chance with those remaining at home to select and locate their lands, it is hereby declared that no survey or title which may hereafter be made shall be valid, unless such survey or title shall be authorized by this Convention or some future Congress of the Republic. And with a view to the simplification of the land system, and protection of the People and the Government from litigation and fraud, a general land office shall be established, where all the land titles of the Republic shall be registered, and the whole territory of the Republic shall be sectionized, in a manner hereafter to be prescribed by law, which shall enable the officers of the Government or any citizen to ascertain with certainty the lands that are vacant, and those lands which may be covered by valid titles.

SEC. 11. Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution, may be proposed in the House of Representatives or Senate and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each of the two Houses, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on the journals, with the yeas and nays thereon, and referred to the Congress then next to be chosen, and shall be published for three months previous to the election; and if the Congress next chosen as aforesaid, shall pass said amendment or amendments by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each House, then it shall be the duty of said Congress to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the People, in such manner and at such times as the Congress shall prescribe; and if the People shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of Congress voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become a part of this Constitution: Provided, however, that no amendment or amendments be referred to the People oftener than once in three years.