Contrary to what most might think, the first Texas constitution wasn’t that of the Republic adopted in 1836—but a set of rights and laws from a decade before.
That document—the constitution of Coahuila y Texas when the Lone Star State was a part of Mexico—and the proceedings that led to its adoption are the focus of a new two-volume book, which was highlighted at a September 22 reception at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Library and Archives Building.
Actas del Congreso Constituyente de Coahuila y Texas de 1824 a 1827, or Acts of the Constituent Congress of Coahuila and Texas, 1824–1827, by Manuel González Oropeza and Jesús Francisco de la Teja, is a compilation of translations, excerpts, and analysis of the historical context and deliberations that led to the constitution of Coahuila y Texas—what was then one of the states within the country of Mexico.
“This book will help rewrite Texas constitutional history by showing that Texas constitutional history doesn’t start in 1836, it’s starts in 1824,” said David A. Furlow, executive editor of the Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, which helped organize the event.
Furlow, Texas State Librarian Mark Smith, Austin’s Consul General of Mexico Carlos González Gutiérrez, and the authors themselves emphasized the shared history of Texas and Mexico and pointed to the fundamental freedoms that were already ingrained in the early document.
Oropeza, who serves as a magistrate in Mexico’s Superior Electoral Court, and his co-author de la Teja, a professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, pointed to the special importance of discussing the intertwined history of Texas and its southern neighbor during September, Hispanic Heritage Month.
“This is about a group of men trying to get it right,” de la Teja told the small crowd gathered to celebrate the book. “The ideas and values that we espouse today were very much present in what they were doing.”
Read Furlow’s review of the book in the Summer 2016 issue of the Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.
Photo from left: Texas State Librarian Mark Smith, David Furlow of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, Texas General Land Office Deputy Director for Archives and Records Mark Lambert, Jesús Francisco de la Teja, and Manuel González Oropeza.