The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917

The Author of the Homestead Exemption Law

The law books, in discussing the homestead exemption, prop-
erly credit the origin of this beneficent enactment to the Third
Congress of the Republic of Texas.' Several recent inquiries as
to the author of the Act by which it was created led the writer
to look into the matter, with this result. It appears that the bill
was introduced in the House of Representatives by Mr. Louis P.
Cooke,2 of Brazoria County. The journals of the House and Sen-
ate give the following information in regard to the progress and
enactment of the measure:
December 29, 1838. "Mr. Cook introduced a bill entitled 'An
Act exempting certain property from execution,'--was read a first
time. Mr. Cook moved to suspend the rules, which was lost.""
January 2, 1839. "A bill entitled an act to exempt certain
property therein named from execution was read a 2d time and
referred to Judiciary Committee."'
January 22, 1839. "'An Act to exempt certain property named
therein from execution' was taken up on second reading. Rules
suspended, read a 3d time and passed.""
January 24, 1839. "A message from the Senate reported to
the House its concurrence in 'An Act to exempt certain property
named therein from execution.' "8
January 24, 1839. "Joint Committee on enrolled bills reported
'Houston & T. C. Ry. Co. v. Winter, 44 Texas, 397; 21 Cyc., 459, note
5. The homestead right is purely a creature of statute. Blum v.
Gaines, 57 Texas, 121. And few legislative ventures have ever been so
promptly copied or followed. Barney v. Leeds, 51 N. H., 261.
"The name in books, and even in the legislative journals and deed
records, is spelled, about impartially, "Cook" and "Cooke." His original
letters as Secretary of the Navy show that he used the latter form of
the name.
"House Journal, Third Congress, 238.
'Ibid., 256. No record of report of the bill from the committee has
been found. The published journal is imperfect; but the bill was,
doubtless, favorably reported.
"Ibid., 396.
"Ibid., 408.

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 29, 2015.