Origins of the recas ll of Rights
J. E. ERICSON
THE DRAWING UP of declarations of rights was not an un-
known thing in Colonial America. It had become by
1776 a favorite method of both the English and Amer-
ican peoples of proclaiming their individual rights. Several colo-
nial assemblies had, from time to time, drawn up documents stat-
ing the rights of individuals against arbitrary governmental
There were precedents for such action in Magna Charta, the
Petition of Rights, and the Bill of Rights, all of which had been
written in England before 1700. More recently, the Stamp Act
Congress of 1765 had drawn up a Declaration of Rights, as had
the Continental Congress of 1774. These served as models for the
state bills of rights that were written in 1776.2
The Texas Bill of Rights, appearing as Article I of the Con-
stitution of 1876, with few exceptions, is a reproduction of the
similar article of the Constitution of 1845. Actually, twenty-five
of the twenty-nine sections of the 1876 article can be traced in
whole or in part to the twenty-one sections of 1845.3 Furthermore,
the twenty-one sections of 1845 are manifestly merely an expan-
sion and rearrangement of the seventeen of 1836.4
The 1836 Declaration of Rights is substantially the same as
that of any state constitution and of the federal instrument. More-
over, it bears a marked resemblance to the "General Provisions"
article of the proposed Texas Constitution of 1833." An analysis
1C. E. Stevens, Sources of the Constitution of the United States (New York, 1894),
2F. M. Green, Constitutional Development in the South Atlantic States, 1776-.1860
(Chapel Hill, 1930), 78.
3J. E. Ericson, An Inquiry into the Sources of the Texas Constitution (Ph.D.
dissertation, Texas Technological College, 1957), 76.
4F. L. Paxson, "The Constitution of Texas, 1845," Southwestern Historical
Quarterly, XVIII, 394.
5Ericson, Inquiry into the Sources of the Texas Constitution (Ph.D. dissertation,
Texas Technological College, 1957), 58.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/. Accessed May 6, 2015.