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2.3: Constitution Of Coahuila And Texas (1827)

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    The Constitution of 1824 of the Republic of Mexico provided that each state in the republic should frame its own constitution. The state of Coahuila and the former Spanish province of Texas were combined as the state of Coahuila and Texas. The legislature for the new state was organized at Saltillo in August 1824, with the Baron de Bastrop representing Texas. More than two years was spent on the framing of a constitution, which was finally published on March 11, 1827.

    The constitution divided the state into three departments, of which Texas, as the District of Bexar, was one. The Catholic religion was made the state religion; citizens were guaranteed liberty, security, property, and equality; slavery was forbidden after promulgation of the constitution, and there could be no import of slaves after six months. Citizenship was defined and its forfeiture outlined. Legislative power was delegated to a unicameral legislature composed of twelve deputies elected by popular vote; Texas was allowed two of the twelve. The body, which met annually from January through April and could be called in special session, was given wide and diverse powers. In addition to legislative functions, it could elect state officials if no majority was shown in the regular voting, could serve as a grand jury in political and electoral matters, and could regulate the army and militia. It was instructed to promote education and protect the liberty of the press.

    Executive power was vested in a governor and vice governor, elected for four-year terms by popular vote. The governor could recommend legislation, grant pardons, lead the state militia, and see that the laws were obeyed. The vice governor presided over the council and served as police chief at the capital. The governor appointed for each department a chief of police, and an elaborate plan of local government was set up. Judicial authority was vested in state courts having charge of minor crimes and civil cases. The courts could try cases but could not interpret the law; misdemeanors were tried by the judge without a jury. Military men and ecclesiastics were subject to rules made by their own orders. Trial by jury, promised by the constitution, was never established, nor was the school system ever set up. The laws were published only in Spanish, which few Anglo-Texans could read. Because of widespread objections to government under this document, the Convention of 1833 proposed a new constitution to give Texas statehood separate from Coahuila.

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