The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954 Page: 433
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The Initial Homestead Exemption in Texas 433
Homestead exemption reserved the family abode, sometimes
within certain specific limits of acreage and monetary valuation
and sometimes within the limits of a "reasonable amount of prop-
erty," from distraint for debt. Its primary purpose was to provide
the debtor with a home for his family and with some means to
support them and to recoup his economic losses so as to prevent
the family from becoming a burdensome charge upon the public
while the debtor was regaining his former useful status in society.
It was basically a phase of the reform movement to improve the
plight of the debtor whereby first the person, then the personal
property, and later the real estate of the debtor were freed from
the control of the creditor through the abolition of imprisonment
for debt, the extension of chattel exemptions, and the adoption
of homestead exemption.4
The earliest homestead exemption law was the Texas statute of
January 26, 1839. The bill was introduced in the House of Repre-
sentatives by the reckless but courageous Louis P. Cooke, a native
of Tennessee, who was expelled before graduation from West Point
of Ohio, 1850-51 (2 vols., Columbus, 1851), I, o108, 138, 206, 236, 354; II, 220, 469-476;
Charles Henry Carey (ed.), The Oregon Constitution and Proceedings and Debates
of the Constitutional Convention of I857 (Salem, Ore., 1926), 57, 119-120, 315-316;
Journal of the Convention of the State of New-York, Begun and Held at the
Capitol in the City of Albany, on the First Day of June, 7846 (Albany, 1846),
78-79, 131, 1180, 1388-1390, 1406; S. Croswell and R. Sutton, reporters, Debates and
Proceedings in the New-York State Convention for the Revision of the Constitution
(Albany, 1846), 67-68, 92-93, 754, 818, 824; William G. Bishop and William H.
Attree, reporters, Report of the Debates and Proceedings of the Convention for
the Revision of the Constitution of the State of New-York. x846 (Albany, 1846),
96, 128, 985, 1064-1065, 1067; Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the Com-
monwealth of Massachusetts, Begun and Held in Boston, on the Fourth Day of
May, 1853. Printed by Order of the Convention (Boston, 1853), 32; Oficial Report
of the Debates and Proceedings in the State Convention, Assembled May 4th, 7853
to Revise and Amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
(3 vols., Boston, 1853), I, 93; Journal, Acts and Proceedings of a General Conven-
tion of the State of Virginia, Assembled at Richmond, on Monday, on the Fourteenth
Day of October, Eighteen Hundred and Fifty (Richmond, 1850), 93; William G.
Bishop, reporter, Register of the Debates and Proceedings of the Virginia Reform
Convention (Richmond, 1851), 17.
"Cornelius D. Judd and Claude V. Hall, The Texas Constitution Explained and
Analyzed (Dallas, 1932), 211; James D. Lynch, The Bench and Bar of Texas (St.
Louis, 1885), 48-50; Newton Dennison Mereness, "Homestead and Exemption Laws,"
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (i lth ed., Cambridge, 191o), XIII, 639-640; William
H. Nunn, A Study of the Texas Homestead and Other Exemptions (Austin, 1931),
2; C. W. Raines, "Enduring Laws of the Republic of Texas," Quarterly of the Texas
State Historical Association, I, 101-1o3; W. R. Vance, "Homestead Exemption Laws,"
Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences (15 vols.; New York, 1932), VII, 441-442.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954, periodical, 1954; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/m1/536/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.