The United States annexed the state in 1845. Until then, it was a part of Mexico. A group of Mexican Texas settlers from the United States declared the state’s independence in the year leading to its annexation. Texas is a state that has undergone various reforms of its political system since it became an independent republican until it joined the United States Union. Its government and politics have evolved greatly over the years. The constitution has played a major role in evolution. Notable changes have been the separation of the state power into three branches. Its elections and voting process are largely impacted on by the public opinions, interest groups and the political parties in the state.
Evolution of the Texas Political System
The governance of Texas and its politics have significantly evolved over the years. In 1824, the Mexican government encouraged settlement in the then Coahuila y Tejas which was a conjoining of Coahuila and the now Texas. The two became one Mexican state. Conflicts between the Mexican government and the settlers followed when the settlers refused to embrace Mexican identity and referred themselves as Texians. They also broke Mexicans laws that prohibited slavery by bringing in African slaves into the state. The Mexican government began fearing for their independence over the settlers. It thus banned immigration of the settler into their land, established more restrictions on slavery and increased the presence of the military in Coahuila y Tejas. This move angered Texans pushing them to claim their own independence from Mexicans.
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Texas adopted its own constitution in 1836 when it attained independence. Before then, the state had gone through the governance of two constitutions; first, the 1824 Mexican constitution and later, the 1827 Coahuila y Tejas constitution. The constitution was largely influenced by the United States Constitution (Coleman, n.d.). It was also influenced by Anglo-American principles. Separation of power into Legislative, executive, and judicial being a major component (Bruff, 1989). The legislature was two-tier with both a Senate and a House of Representatives. Representatives in the independent republic of Texas served a year while the Senate served for three years. Like the United States, the executive in the country was elected by the citizens through popular vote. The judiciary comprised of the justice, Supreme court, county, and district. The constitution also allowed for male suffrage, recognized slavery, had a bill of rights and excluded Native American’s and African American’s citizenship in the country.
A new constitution had to be adopted when Texas became a part of the United States and ceased to be an independent republic. In 1845, the United States Congress accepted Texas’ charter making it the twenty-eighth state to join the United States union (May, 2019). It was founded on constitutional principles of the United States such as the popular sovereignty of the written constitution, republican governance, a guarantee for individual rights and allowance for separation of power. The constitution was highly flexible unlike the previous constitutions in the independent republic of Texas. Three other constitutions have since then been ratified. The Confederate constitution of 1866 was enacted when the state seceded from the union at the start of the Civil War. The post-Civil War constitution was established temporarily after the end of the Civil War in 1866 allowing for rejoining into the union. The Reconstruction constitution of 1869 is known for being formulated by the federal military forces and for never being adopted. The 1876 constitution is the present-day constitution in the state and it mainly restricts the state’s power. However, the constitution has seen various amendments ever since.
Branches of the Texas State Government
The Texas state government is made up of three branches. Article IV of the Texas constitution describes the executive branch of the state government. It is made up of the governor and his cabinet including the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the secretary of state, the commissioner of the general land office, the Comptroller of the public accounts, railroad commissioner, commissioner of agriculture, state board of education, commissioner of agriculture, other elected/appointed boards and commissioners and appointed agency directors. The state operates under a ‘plural executive’. This means that the power of the governor in Texas is limited and distributed among other government officials (Harpham, 2013). All executive officials are therefore elected independently and answers to the public, except the Secretary of the state. In most states the lieutenant governor who heads and appoints the Senate committee has more power than the state governor. Nevertheless, the governor is the commander of state militia, and appoints various executive boards and directors and can call special legislature sessions.
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The legislative branch of the Texas government is in article III of its constitution. It is a two-tier, comprising of the House of Representatives and the Senate just like other states in the United States Union. The House of Representatives has a hundred and fifty members while the Senate has thirty-one members. The Legislature is the most powerful and influential branch today (Bruff, 1989). For example, the branch makes all the state laws with only an exemption of the executive and the judiciary where the governor vetoes the laws he/she does not agree with and the latter can overturn the laws that go against the constitutional rights of Texans. The legislature also instructs the other two branches of the Texas government directing them on what to do. The judiciary branch is in Article V and has the quality of being the most complex in all the states of America. It comprises of the Supreme Court, the court of criminal Appeals and municipal courts.
Impact of Public Opinion, Interest Groups and Political Parties on Voting In Texas
The public opinion in Texas plays a critical role in its voting process. The public opinion comes from people’s attitude, and beliefs. It shapes their beliefs and attitudes regarding how they would want their state ran as political ideologies. The ideologies later influence the citizen’s voting decision. Socialization agents such as institutions (family, schools, and religious institutions) and the media also play a crucial role in influencing public opinions in the state.
Interest groups have contributed largely to the government of Texas. The interest groups range from large national ones to small regional or state ones. Their main aim is usually to get certain legislature in the state that aligns with their missions and visions passed (UKESSAYS, 2018). The Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Texas State Rifle Association are two of the major interest groups in the state that sees to it that their interests are honored by the legislature through electing the people that they know will represent and stand for them in the House of Representatives and the Senate. The State also has political parties such as the Constitutional Party of Texas, the Democratic Party, the Green Party of Texas, the Libertarian Party, the Republican Party, Reform party, Texas Communist Party among others. The parties play a crucial role in the voting process. The citizens also identify with the political parties that uphold their political views and elect leaders by them.
In conclusion, Texas’ political system has evolved greatly since the colonial period to its current state. During the colonial period, Texas was known as Tejas and was a part of Mexico. The Mexican government later conjoined the state with Coahuila forming Coahuila y Tejas. As a result, in 1827, the state ceased to use the Mexican constitution of 1824 and established its own. When it claimed its own independence in 1836, Texas adopted a different constitution that was greatly influenced by the United States Constitution and the Anglo-American principles. The independent republic later decided to join the United States and formed another constitution. Texas uses the 1876 constitution which has undergone various amendments since then. It comprises of three branches that is the legislature, executive and judiciary with legislature being the most powerful and influential for majorly for its lawmaking role. Public opinion, interest groups and political parties also play a major role in shaping the government during the voting process in the state.
- Bruff, H. H. (1989). Separation of Powers under the Texas Constitution. Tex. L. Rev., 68, 1337.
- Coleman, M. (2017). Texas Constitutional History. Retrieved from https://dlc.dcccd.edu/txgov1-2/texas-constitutional-history
- Harpham, E. (2013). The Texas Executive Branch. Retrieved from http://www.wwnorton.com/college/polisci/governingtexas/ch/08/outline.aspx
- May, J. (2019). Government | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). Retrieved from https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mzgfq
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