Texas Constitutions 1824-1876

Texas Constitutions 1824-1876 is a project of the Tarlton Law Library, Jamail Center for Legal Research at the University of Texas School of Law, The University of Texas at Austin.

From a legal perspective, what distinguishes Texas from other states is its unique history as an entity—a state, a republic, a nation—and the documents that actually created what became the Texas we know today.

Between the years of 1824 and 1876, Texas was at times a part of the United States of Mexico, an independent republic, a state within the Confederate States of America, and a state within the United States of America. Beginning in 1824, what we now know as Texas passed through many iterations—each with founding documents that can be accessed on this site. These founding documents legally established the entity of Texas, set forth the rights and responsibilities of its people, and defined the scope and powers of its government.

The Library's collection, as well as other collections on the UT-Austin campus, include rare copies of many of these Constitutions, published at the time of those instruments' adoption. Because these documents are so rare and in many cases very fragile, there are significant restrictions upon their use. As a record of the evolution of the government of Texas, these documents are unusually important to any number of groups of people.

The Library's first 'constitutional' TexTreasures grant was awarded in 1999; that grant provided the Library with funds to digitize the Constitutions, publish them online, and create a website showcasing this material.

Just as lawyers and historians look to legislative history—the committee reports, prior versions of bills, transcripts of hearings, congressional debates—to help them interpret legislation, so do historians look to related contemporaneous materials for help in interpreting provisions of historical constitutions. These related materials can place particular constitutional provisions in context, resolve ambiguities in language, evidence the discussions and process that preceded the adoption of particular constitutional provisions, and help explain why certain provisions were finally adopted in particular forms.

The second TexTreasures grant application, submitted in 2002, involved these related constitutional materials. When a group of elected delegates come together to draft and agree upon a written constitution, they meet in conventions. The proceedings of these conventions are often recorded and published.