The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 459
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Origins of the Texas Bill of Rights
deprived of liberty except by the law of the land. Trial by jury
was guaranteed. Freemen, before they could be criminally prose-
cuted, were to be indicted by a grand jury, were to have the right
to counsel and evidence, were protected against self-incrimina-
tion, and were not to be convicted except upon the unanimous
verdict of a jury of their peers. Excessive bail and fines, cruel and
unusual punishment, laws of attainder, general warrants, and ex
post facto laws were prohibited. Perpetuities, monopolies, hered-
itary emoluments or honors, special privileges, titles of nobility,
standing armies in times of peace, and the suspension of the writ
of habeas corpus were interdicted. All declarations proclaimed the
right of freemen to bear arms, and they asserted the supremacy
of the civil over the military power. They guaranteed free elec-
tions, freedom of speech and debates, and freedom of the press.
They recognized the right of the people to assemble peacefully
and to petition for redress of grievances. The purpose of govern-
ment was declared to be the welfare and happiness of the people,
and the right to alter or change the government was upheld. The
bills of rights declared that political power was vested in and
derived from the people; and that the people had the sole right
to govern themselves; and that a frequent recurrence to funda-
mental principles was the best safeguard of liberty."
To most of these traditional guarantees, the 1830 Texas consti-
tutional conventions added a prohibition against imprisonment
for debt, which may have been based on the Pennsylvania Con-
stitution of 17760 or the North Carolina Constitution of 1776.10
By 1833, however, some nine"1 American state constitutions con-
tained qualified limitations on the power of the state to imprison
for debt. The first legislative enactment in the United States
came in New York in 1817, but such imprisonment was not erased
from federal law until 1832 or from that of most of the states until
1842.12 The Texas prohibition is unqualified and, therefore, more
SGreen, Constitutional Development, 79-8o.
9Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776, Plan of the Government, Sec. 28, in B. P.
Poore (comp.), The Federal and State Constitutions, Colonial Charters, and Other
Organic Laws of the United States (Washington, 1878), 1546.
1oNorth Carolina Constitution of 1776, Art. XXXIX, ibid., 1414.
11Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio,
Mississippi, and Alabama.
12A. M. Schlesinger, The Age of Jackson (Boston, 1945), 134-
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959, periodical, 1959; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101173/m1/556/: accessed December 3, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.