Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation Page: 4 of 61
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Civilization in this state moved on and our people, adjusting themselves
to changed conditions, wrote another Constitution in 1845. In
the convention for drafting it, we see the noble figure of Thomas J.
Rusk presiding over its deliberations; the Constitution for a new state
is drafted; the people gather at the ballot box and ratify it; Texas, the
Republic, voluntarily surrenders her independence, and Texas, the sovereign
state, was born and the twenty-eighth star glorified the proud
folds of the American flag.
THREE OTHER CONSTITUTIONS.
In the sweep and swing of the shifting events of peace and war, the
people of our state adopted a new constitution in 3866, to be quickly
succeeded by another in 1869. "The thoughts of men widen with the
process of suns," and Texas history chronicled the story of the Constitution
of 1876, and under this Constitution her people have since been
living. For the eighty distinguished delegates who wrote that constitution,
we have no word of criticism, but only words of praise. On the
scroll of fame as the signers of that document, appears the name of
John H. Reagan, who for fifty years gave his best to his country; John
H. Brown, who made for this commonwealth undying history; Edward
Burleson, a name linked forever with Texas annals; John L. Henry, who
later adorned the Supreme bench of Texas; Kilgore and Moore, whose
voices rang in the halls of our national Congress; Thomas Nugent,
whose heart-beat was ever for the rank and file of men; William Crawford,
who stood as a legal giant among Texas lawyers; L. S. Ross, gallant
soldier and splendid Governor of Texas. These and all their illustrious
comrades, save two, have answered the final roll call. These two
aged and honored representatives of that memorable. gathering, stand
today as a connecting link between that glorious past and a still more
A NEW CONSTITUTION.
With this brief backward look into the constitutional life of Texas
since the days of the Republic, I raise with you tonight the practical
question whether it is wise for the people of Texas, in this progressive
age and rapidly developing state, to continue doing business under the
limitations and inhibitions of a Constitution written nearly fifty years
ago. Can we afford to sew the newly woven cloth of 1923 onto the old
garments of 1876? Is it not reasonable to suppose that Texas has outgrown
her swaddling clothes of half a century ago?
TIMES CHANGE AND CONSTITUTIONS MUST CHANGE WITH THEM.
As new truths are disclosed, as new discoveries are made, as new
inventions are put forth, as civilization advances, the fundamental policies
of government must change to keep pace with the progress of the
day. Statesmen of no generation, however wise, can interpret life and'
write a constitution for a progressive people fifty years in advance of
their day. "Every constitution," wrote Thomas Jefferson, "naturally
expires at the end of twenty years, and if it be enforced longer, it is
an act of force and not of right."
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Neff, Pat M. Speeches delivered by Pat M. Neff, Governor of Texas, discussing certain phases of contemplated legislation, book, 1923; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5835/m1/4/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .