The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998 Page: 60
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
PROVISIONS FOR SEATS OF GOVERNMENT IN SIX FRONTIER CONSTITUTIONS
Florida (1839) *
New Orleans until legislature moves it.
Natchez at first session. Then legislature may move it.
Huntsville at first session. "Cahawba" afterwards, until end
of 1825 session, during which legislature chooses perma-
nent site. Final site can never be changed; governor's
agreement not required; no appropriations for state-
house other than in Cahaba before 1825.
Little Rock at first session. Then legislature may move it.
Tallahassee at first session and the following five years.
Then legislature may move it until ten years after first ses-
sion, when permanent seat must be chosen.
Austin until 185o. Then at site chosen by popular elec-
tion in March 1850; if there is no majority, run-off elec-
tion between top two choices in October 1850. This site
immovable until 1870.
SOURCE: La., art. 6, sec. 24; Miss., art. 3, sec. 30o; Ala., art. 3, sec. 29; Ark., art. 7,
"Schedule," sec. 6; Fla., art. 15; Tex., art. 3, secs. 33 and 35.
NOTE *Although Florida's first constitution was ratified in 1839, it was not implemented
until statehood, in 1845-
factional politics yielded publicly efficient site choices, sooner or later,
in all six cases.
The specification of the first capital in these constitutions is an exam-
ple of superlegislation. As Lawrence Friedman has pointed out, "[o]rdi-
narily, behind each instance of superlegislation there lurks some con-
crete story, some concrete factional dispute . . . between interest
groups."3 Certainly that was true on the southern frontier, and in order
to explain how six separate conventions arrived at similar decisions, the
details of what happened in each new state must be investigated.
Choosing the seat of government was serious business on the general-
ly cash-poor antebellum southern frontier. The state capital, with its
9 Lawrence M. Friedman, "State Constitutions in Historical Perspective," Annals of the American
Academy of Political and Social Science, 496, special ed. John Kincald (Mar., 1988), 36.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998, periodical, 1998; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/m1/88/: accessed May 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.