The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954

rhe HitialJoiestead Excptioa
if rewas
LENA LONDON
HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION, so proudly hailed as an innovation
of the genius of American frontiersmen, and often cited
to support the Turner thesis that American democracy
came out of the west, was first incorporated into both statutory
and constitutional law in Texas. Following the example of Texas
in 1839, state after state enacted homestead exemption laws. Not
content with mere statutory exemption, between 1845 and 186o
six western states (Texas, Wisconsin, California, Michigan, In-
diana, and Minnesota) and one eastern state (Maryland) wrote
homestead exemption provisions into their constitutions.2 Five
western states (Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Oregon) and
three eastern states (New York, Massachusetts, and Virginia) dis-
cussed the subject of homestead exemption in their constitutional
conventions but failed to include it in their constitutions.8
'Emphasis upon the fact that Texas in 1839 was an independent Republic does
not discredit the Turner hypothesis in regard to the adoption of homestead exemp-
tion legislation since Mississippi, which in January, 1841, enacted the second
homestead exemption law, was a member of the United States and was a western
state. Moreover, the first constitutional convention even to consider the insertion
of a homestead exemption clause into a state constitution was the 1844 constituent
assembly of Iowa, then a frontier territory in the United States seeking advance-
ment to the status of statehood.
2Ben P. Poore (ed.), The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters,
and Other Organic Laws of the United States (2 vols., Washington, 1878), I, 205,
513, 847, 1009-101oo0; II, 1030, 1778, 2o29; Francis N. Thorpe (ed.), The Federal and
State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other Organic Laws of the States,
Territories and Colonies now and heretofore forming the United States of America
(7 vols., Washington, 1909), I, 404; II, 1075; III, 1726; IV, 1965-1966, 1993;
VI, 3561-3562; VII, 4078.
8Benjamin F. Shambaugh (ed.), Fragments of the Debates of the Iowa Constitu-
tional Conventions of 1844 and x846 along with Press Comments and Other
Materials on the Constitutions of 1844 and 1846 (Iowa City, 1900oo), 159-161; Arthur
Charles Cole (ed.), The Constitutional Debates of z847 (Springfield, 1919; Collec-
tions of the Illinois Historical Library, XIV), 730o, 884; Journal and Proceedings of
the Convention of the State of Kentucky (Frankfort, 1849), 86, 97, 117-120, 130-132;
R. Sutton, reporter, Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for
the Revision of the Constitution of the State of Kentucky, 2849 (Frankfort, 1849),
111-112, 20o6, 319-321, 350-352; J. V. Smith, reporter, Report of the Debates and
Proceedings of the Convention for the Revision of the Constitution of the State

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/. Accessed April 20, 2014.