One of HeinOnline’s newer databases is State Constitutions Illustrated, a collection of the constitutional documents of all 50 states as well as other related works and scholarly articles that impart some additional insight on these constitutional materials. Through this database, users have access to not only the current text of the constitutions but also the original and any consolidated texts, including pre-statehood materials. The resources in the database are current through November 6, 2018 and include almost 9,000 historical and current constitutions and related documents. One of the primary features of the collection is a color-coded map of the United States wherein each color and number correspond to one of the eleven federal judicial circuits. Users can either click on the state or choose the desired state from a dropdown menu. For this blog post, we chose to look at the materials available for the State of Texas.
The oldest documents that are available for the State of Texas are not the Constitutions of Texas but rather the constitutional documents of Mexico. On November 6, 1813, the Congress of Anahuac, in the city of Chilpantzingo, drafted a constitution that declared Mexico’s independence from Spain. This declaration, however, did not secure Mexico’s complete independence from the Spanish Crown, as the conflict lasted until 1821 with the signing of the Second Act of Independence on September 28, 1821. Users can read these two declarations in English as well as the original Spanish. Other significant documents from this era include:
the Constituent Act of the Confederation (January 31, 1824), which instituted Apostolical Roman Catholic as the national religion and divided the Supreme Power of the Confederation into legislative, executive, and judicial powers;
the Federal Constitution of the United Mexican States, 1824, which marked the beginning of the constitutional government in Texas; and
the Seven Constitutional Laws, 1836, which set forth the rights and obligations of Mexicans and the inhabitants of the Republic and organized the Supreme Conservative Power, a group of five individuals who were tasked with “maintaining the Constitutional equilibrium between the Social Powers” and “upholding or re-establishing Constitutional order.”
Other pre-statehood documents of note are the Laws of the State of Coahuila and Texas, and related Laws of Mexico and of the State of Tamaulipas, etc., 1824-1835. These laws governed the newly-established Department of Texas and consisted of several decrees relating to colonization and the regulation of certain aspects of daily life in the colonies, such as taxation, education, and retailing of goods. These documents, too, can be read in English or the original Spanish.
The database also has resources that documents the period between Mexican colonization and Texas’s declaration of independence from Mexico on March 2, 1836. These are followed by documents relating to the annexation of Texas by the United States in 1845 and the various versions of the Constitution of Texas, including that of 1845, 1861, 1866, 1868, and 1869, which all lead up to the current constitution.
Each state has its own fascinating history. This collection allows users to experience those histories through the constitutions and laws that were made and promulgated by the people who lived in that particular state at that particular time. This collection of state constitutions certainly illustrates the complex and varied histories of our 50 states.
Don’t forget that you can access HeinOnline remotely. Please see our blog post, Remote Access to HeinOnline, for more information. Also, if you need some assistance locating a resource or article on HeinOnline, you can contact our librarians through the Law Library’s Virtual Reference Desk.