Texas History Fort Burrows

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Texas History

Fort Burrows

20.1 - The Constitution of Texas

The Main Idea : The Texas State Constitution defines and limits the powers of the

government. It is a long and complex document that has gone through many changes.

Today Texans live under two different Constitutions. One is the Constitution of the United States. The other is the State Constitution. Texas has had seven (7) constitutions in its history. The one used today was passed in 1876. It has 17 articles, or major parts. The chart below describes each.

The State Government has three parts, or branches. The Legislative Branch makes the laws. The Executive carries out the laws. The Judicial interprets what laws mean and punishes people who break the Law.

Dividing the Government into different parts, each with its own powers, is based on the idea called the separation of powers. Another idea in the Constitution is the system of checks and balances. This means that each part of the Government has some power to block the actions of another branch. These two steps stop any part of the Government from having too much power.

The Texas constitution can be changed. Over the years, Texans have made more than 400 changes.

Timeline: 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas

1845 1st Texas State Constitution ( Texas becomes the ____ State )

1861 Texas joins the Confederate States of America

1876 The present-day Constitution is Accepted

1888 Present-day Capitol in Austin is completed

1920 19th Amendment ( Right for Women to Vote )

1924 1st Female Governor __________________

1954 Brown v. Board of Education ends segregation in public schools

Vocabulary –

federalism - the National and Local Government share power
separation of powers - the division of the functions of government among branches
check and balances - allows each branch of Gov’t to block the actions of the others

( this insures no one branch becomes more powerful than the other )
Constitution - a law set forth by a governmental authority
veto - the Governor stops a bill from becoming a law
Constitutions in Texas History

  • Functions of a Constitution

  • It makes a Government legitimate or legal

  • Makes laws

  • List duties of major officials

  • Limits the power of Government

  • Constitution of 1824 - Mexico’s Constitution of freedom from Spain that governed the Republic of Mexico

  • Constitution of Coahuila (Co∙we∙la) Y Tejas 1827 - Coahuila and Texas become one state, Promised the rights of liberty, property, and equality

  • Constitution of The Republic of Texas 1836 - Texas becomes an independent country, Split government into 3 branches; legislative, executive, and judicial

  • Constitution of 1845- Texas joins the U.S. as the 28th state, 1st state government

  • Constitution of 1861 - Texas joins the Confederate States of America

  • Constitution of 1866 - Texas re-joined U.S. as a state, after defeat in the Civil War

  • Constitution of 1869 - pressure from Congress during Reconstruction (slavery)

  • Constitution of 1876 – Texas’ Constitution of today , Includes a Bill of Rights

Government Under the Constitution

  • Texas Bill of Rights ( All 6 items ) Protects:

  • Religious/worship freedom

  • Freedom of speech

  • Freedom of the press

  • Right to assemble peacefully

  • Rights of the mentally ill

  • Bans unequal treatment based on gender ( man or woman )

Legislative - makes the law

Executive-carries out the laws

Judicial - interprets the laws

The Texas Constitution Today
Constitutional Amendments

  • Texas lawmakers have added more than 400 amendments to the State Constitution over the years.

  • The Legislature has to propose and pass any potential changes to the Constitution. The voters must approve them.

Calls for Reform

  • Texas lawmakers wrote a new constitution in 1974. The legislature failed by three votes to pass the document.

  • Without the legislature’s approval, it could not go to the people for a vote.

  • Texas continues to be governed by the Constitution of 1876.



1: Bill of Rights

Rights that Texans have

2: The Powers of Government

The 3 parts of the government and the powers of each part

3: The Legislative Department

Powers and duties of the two houses of Legislature

4: The Executive Department

Powers and duties of officers of the executive branch

5: The Judicial Department

Structure and powers of state courts

6: Suffrage

Who can vote and how

7: Education

Funding for public schools; system of state colleges

8: Taxation and Revenue

Rules for taxes

9: Counties

Rules for making new counties

Rules for services counties have to provide

10: Railroads

Rules about state railroads

11: Municipal Corporations
12: Private Corporations

Rules about the different kinds of corporations

13. Spanish and Mexican Land Titles

( Article 13 no longer in force )

14: Public Lands and Land Office

How government uses public lands

15: Impeachment

How to impeach a public official

who is thought to have broken the law

16: General Provisions

A variety of topics

17: Amending the State Constitution

How to change the constitution

  • Know Article 1: The Bill of Rights

  • Know Article 2: The Powers of Government

  • Know Article 17: Amending the State Constitution

1. In a federalist system, the national and local governments

A. are controlled by the executive branch B. operate independently

C. compete D. share power
2. The system of checks and balances lets each branch of government

A. operate independently

B. block the actions of the others

C. be responsible for passing their own laws

D. handle their own finances


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