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Outbreak of Civil War
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as President, and soon after states began to secede. Texas is upset with the way that the United States has handled the situation, and had generally been upset that it was a state, and no longer its own country. in 1861, Texas holds a secession convention. There, three different philosophies become key: Unionism, Nationalism, and Secessionism. The secessionists mainly wanted to secede to join the Confederacy. Sam Houston, the governor, was a Unionist, but the Unionists were vastly outnumbered. Houston decided that the next best thing was making Texas its own country, and Texas seceded from the USA in 1861.
The Confederacy, expecting Texas to join them, began to send ships to blockade the ports of Galveston and Houston. However, The Confederacy realized that Texas was not worth the effort to keep, so it did decided that it would not intervene in Texas until after the Civil War was over. The Union also decided that it needed to focus on the Confederacy. Abraham Lincoln stated that he was trying to stop an action that he believed was unconstitutional, and that he agreed that the annexation of Texas was unconstitutional. Lincoln asked Texas to help them in the war, but Sam Houston responded that he would prefer to focus on building this new country.
In 1862, the Texas Constitutional Convention was held in Austin. This included several Founding Fathers of the New Republic of Texas.
The following people were delegates to the Constitutional Convention: Sam Houston (President of Convention), Louis Wigfall (President pro tempore), John Reagan, William Oldham, Andrew J. Hamilton, William B. Ochiltree, Franklin B. Sexton, Francis Lubbock, John Gregg, Hardin Runnels, Samuel Maverick, Jesse Grimes, Hamilton P. Bee, M. D. K. Taylor, James W. Flanagan, Elisha Lott, Robert Guinn, William Harrison Martin, Guy M. Bryan, Frank W. Johnson, Henry E. McCulloch, Malcolm D. Graham, Emory Rains, Juan Seguin, Joseph Abbott, James W. Throckmorton, Fletcher Stockdale, Thomas H. Duggan, Gustav Schleicher, Roger Q. Mills, John McClannahan Crockett, John H. Moore, Constantine W. Buckley, Matthew F. Locke, Anthony M. Branch, Stephen H. Darden, and Alfred M. Hobby.
The Constitution of the Republic of Texas lays out the government system of the Republic of Texas. It states that there should be one President of the Republic of Texas, who has the ability to veto any law. Next, it divides Texas into twelve states, and one Capital District. The Capital District was to be named Austin, and the states were to be named after key people in the history and establishment of the Republic of Texas. Each state would be a miniature version of the federal government, with a state capital and counties that would act as miniature states. A House of Representatives was set up, with the number of Representatives from a state corresponding to the population of that state. There was also a senate, with three people per state from the senate. Representatives served 4 year terms in two classes, an senators served 6 year terms in three classes. There were no term limits other than the three term maximum for the President.
The Constitution also required several departments, including Justice, Law, Treasury, Postal Services, War, State, and more. Each bill that was proposed would be given a different category, and the department leader (usually titled as the Secretary of that department) would be key in the passing of that law. The department leaders would be voted on by popular vote, unlike the President who would be voted on by an electoral college system.
For a bill to be passed, needed 3 of the following 4: Approval from the Department Leader for the Department that the bill falls under, Approval of the President, majority approval from the House of Representatives, and Majority approval from the Senate. This made a Department Leader just as important as the President on any given topic, but the President had this power on every bill. It was also determined that there would be a Supreme Court with nine justices, that would act as the highest court system and rule on constitutional issues, and the justices would serve for life and be appointed by the President with approval from the Secretary of Justice. Amendments to the Constitution were allowed with the approval of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and at least two thirds of the states.
The Constitution of the Republic of Texas also protected many rights for a citizen. This mimicked many of the rights and freedoms protected in the US Constitution, but it also prohibited the emancipation of slaves. The right to bear arms was protected, as was the freedom of religion, among others.
Signing and Approval
The Constitution of the Republic of Texas was signed on October 8th, 1862. It took effect immediately after it was signed, as it was agreed upon by nearly everyone at the Convention. In January 1863, a special election was held to figure out the first President of the Republic of Texas, and former Governor Sam Houston was elected.