Kris Seago
Government/Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Academic Lower Division
Austin Community College
  • ACC Liberal Arts
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:

    Introduction: The Texas State Constitution and the American Federal System


    Introduction: The Texas State Constitution and the American Federal System

    Learning Objective

    By the end of this chapter, you will be able to:

    • Explain the origin and development of the Texas State Constitution



    Texas Secretary of State delivers a speech
    Figure 2.1  On August 5, 2013, the Texas State Library hosted Texas Secretary of State John Steen for a drawing that determined the ballot order of the 9 proposed state constitutional amendments to be voted on as part of the November 5 election. Secretary Steen joined his staff, TSLAC staff, and members of the media in the lobby of the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building, and he performed the drawing in the presence of two special pieces of Texas history from the Texas State Archives: one was the wooden box from which Secretary Steen drew the amendments. The “Ark of the Covenant,” as the box is known, is made of wood from the house at Washington-on-the-Brazos where Texas delegates met to declare independence from Mexico in 1836. The second piece was the actual 1876 Texas Constitution, which is still in effect today.
    Image Credit: Texas State Library and Archives Commission License: CC BY


    A constitution is a body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is acknowledged to be governed. Another way of thinking about it is that a constitution outlines the structure of the government, defines the powers of the government, and enumerates limits on the government. When it comes to structure, this can include the creation of branches as well as how each branch is organized. For example, the Texas government has three branches in which the legislative branch is bicameral, the executive branch is plural, and the judicial branch is bifurcated.

    As for powers, the legislature makes law, the executive enforces law, and the judicial branch adjudicates and interprets the law. Finally, limits on powers come in the form of the Bill of Rights. A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights to the citizens. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.

    The Texas Bill of Rights outlines the limits on the powers of the government that would violate our rights.

    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.

    This chapter discusses the development of Texas' constitutions, from the Constitution of 1876 through the current constitution

    Licenses and Attributions


    Revision and Adaptation. Authored by: Kris S. Seago. License: CC BY: Attribution