The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 62, July 1958 - April, 1959 Page: 461
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Origins of the Texas Bill of Rights
A second proclaimed that freemen, under social contract, had
equal rights and that individuals could not receive from govern-
ment special privileges or payments, except for services rendered.20
Equality of rights had found expression in the Declaration of In-
dependence, but in its form the Texas statement resembled more
closely the corresponding provisions of the Virginia and North
Carolina bills of rights of 1776.21
Of the four sections of the 1876 document that outline re-
ligious freedoms, only one stems from the 1830 constitutions. This
section proclaims freedom of worship, separation of church and
state, and equal protection for all religious denominations.22 Some
of this was based, in all probability, upon the stipulations of the
first amendment to the federal constitution. It resembles much
more closely, however, sections of the Pennsylvania Declaration
of Rights (1776), the Delaware Constitution (1792), and the
Kentucky Constitution (1792); almost identical restrictions were
imposed by at least seven state constitutions at the time.28
Another section concerned with religious liberties was added
in 1845, stipulating that religious qualifications could not be im-
posed for public office in Texas; however, the acknowledgment of
the existence of a Supreme Being was declared to be necessary by
the 1875 convention. By 1845 the federal constitution and some
eight state constitutions24 prohibited religious tests for office hold-
ing. All of these appear to have been based on provisions of
William Penn's Frame of Government (1696) and the Pennsyl-
vania Charter of Privileges (1701). These latter instruments seem
to have introduced religious freedom into American constitu-
English common law provided that only persons who professed
a belief in a Supreme Being and in Divine punishment could be
competent witnesses. The 1876 constitution expressly abolished
this provision. The New York and Iowa constitutions of 1846
20Texas Constitution of 1836, Declaration of Rights, Sec. 1, in Poore (comp.),
Federal and State Constitutions, 1762.
21Virginia Bill of Rights of 1776, Sec. 4, ibid., igog; North Carolina Bill of
Rights of 1776, Art. III, ibid., 1409.
22Texas Constitution of 1836, Declaration of Rights, Sec. 3, ibid., 1762.
2aPennsylvania, Kentucky, Delaware, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
24Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, and
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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/m1/558/: accessed December 4, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.