The Texas Constitution of 1876

Learning Objectives

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

  • Understand the Constitution of 1876’s role in Texas 


This section discusses the Constitution of 1876’s role in Texas.

The Texas Constitution of 1876

Texas Constitution of 1876
Figure 2.11 The 1876 Texas Constitution document, which has been fully photographed, reprinted, and digitized, is stored in the Lorenzo De Zavala State Archives and Library Building near the Texas Capitol in Austin. Image Credit: Public Domain

Texas Democrats gained control of Congress in 1873 and decided it was time to draft a new constitution for Texas. The Texas Constitutional Convention of 1875 met in Austin with the purpose of replacing the Constitution of 1869; it was believed that the new constitution should restrict the state government and hand the power back to the people.

Some examples of how the government was restricted were:

  • Legislative sessions moved from annual to biennial sessions
  • Creation of a plural executive
  • Mandated a balanced budget
  • State Judges would be elected by the people
  • The people would vote on the ratification of amendments

The structure of the current constitution of Texas (Constitution of 1876) is a Preamble, 17 Articles, and 491 Amendments (Since 2015)3. The Texas Constitution does not contain a “necessary and proper clause” like the U.S. Constitution, therefore making it the second-longest state constitution in America (2nd only to Alabama’s).


You Might Be Wondering...

Why is the Texas Constitution So Dang Long?

Find out from TexPlainer at the Texas Tribune.


Table 2.2 Articles of the Texas Constitution of 1876



Article 1: Bill of Rights

The Texas Constitution's Bill of Rights Similar civil liberties and civil rights as in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights


Article 2: The Powers of the Government

Establishes three branches of government with separation of powers

Article 3: Legislative Department

Specifics about the Texas Legislature

Article 4: Executive Department

Specifics about the plural executive

Article 5: Judicial Department

Specifics about the Texas Judicial system

Article 6: Suffrage

Forbids the following from voting:

-any non-US citizen,

-any non-registered Texas voter,

-any convicted felon who has not completed their sentence, or

-any person deemed mentally incompetent by the courts.


Article 7: Education


Mandates an "efficient" free public school system. Established the Permanent School Fund

Article 8: Taxation and Revenue

Places limits on the raising and spending of public funds

Article 9: Counties

Authorizes the Texas Legislature to create county governments

Article 10: Railroads

Regulates the railroad system

Article 11: Municipal Corporations

Specifics regarding local governments, including empowering them to tax, and how to charter cities

Article 12: Private Corporations

Specifics regarding public businesses, including how they would be regulated

Article 13: Spanish and Mexican Land Titles

Specifics on which land with previous claims would become state property

Article 14: Public Lands and Land Office

Established the Land Office which regulated land titles

Article 15: Impeachment

Specifics on how to remove a public official from office

Article 16: General Provisions

Miscellaneous regulations, ie., forbidding the legislature from printing money, forbidding U.S. public officials from holding a state office

Article 17: Mode of Amending the Constitution of this State

2/3rds proposal from the legislature

Registered voters vote on approval. With a majority vote, the amendment is ratified.



Licensing and Attribution


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