[Journal of the Constitutional Convention, 1834, 389-411]
WHEREAS, THE PEOPLE of the territory of the United States, south of the river Ohio, having the right of admission
into the General Government as a Member State thereof, consistent with the Constitution of the United States, and
the act of cession of the State of North Carolina, recognizing the ordinance for the government of the territory of
the United States, north west of the river Ohio, by their Delegates and Representatives in Convention assembled,
did, on the sixth day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six, ordain and
establish a constitution or form of government; and mutually agreed with each other to form themselves into a free and
independent state, by the name of THE STATE OF TENNESSEE; and whereas the General Assembly of said State
of Tennessee, (pursuant to the third section of the tenth article of the Constitution) by an act passed on the
twenty-seventh day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three, entitled An
act to provide for the calling of a Convention, did authorize and provide for the election, by the People, of Delegates
and Representatives, to meet at Nashville, in Davidson county, on the third Monday in May, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, for the purpose of revising, and amending (or changing) the
WE, therefore, the Delegates and Representatives of the People of the State of Tennessee, elected and in Convention
assembled, in pursuance of the said Act of Assembly, have ordained and established the following amended
Constitution and form of Government for this State, which we recommend to the People of Tennessee for their
ratification; that is to say:
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Sec. I. That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for
their peace, safety and happiness; for the advancement of those ends, they have, at all times, an unalienable and indefeasible
right to alter, reform or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.
II. That government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and
oppression, is absurd, slavish and destructive to the good and happiness of mankind.
III. That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own
conscience; that no man can, of right, be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any
Minister against his consent; that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of
conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship.
IV. That no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this State.
V. That elections shall be free and equal.
VI. That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
VII. That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and
seizures; and that general warrants, whereby an officer may be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of
the fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offences are not particularly described and
supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and ought not to be granted.
VIII. That no free man shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties or privileges, or outlawed, or
exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of
IX. That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath a right to be heard by himself and his counsel; to demand the nature
and cause of the accusation against him, and to have a copy thereof; to meet the witnesses face to face; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and in prosecutions by indictment or presentment, a speedy public trial, by an
impartial jury of the county or district in which the crime shall have been committed; and shall not be compelled to give
evidence against himself.
X. That no person shall, for the same offence, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.
XI. That laws made for the punishment of facts committed previous to the existence of such laws, and by them only
declared criminal, are contrary to the principles of a free government; wherefore no ex post facto law shall be made.
XII. That no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate. The estate of such persons as shall destroy
their own lives, shall descend or vest as in the case of natural death. If any person be killed by casualty, there shall be no
forfeiture in consequence thereof.
XIII. That no person arrested or confined in jail, shall be treated with unnecessary rigor.
XIV. That no free man shall be put to answer any criminal charge but by presentment, indictment or impeachment.
XV. That all prisoners shall be bailable by sufficient sureties unless for capital offences when the proof is evident or the
presumption great. And the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in case of rebellion
or invasion the public safety may require it.
XVI. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
XVII. That all courts shall be open; and every man, for an injury done him in his lands, goods, person, or reputation, shall
have remedy by due course of law, and right and justice administered without sale, denial, or delay. Suits may be brought
against the State in such manner, and in such courts, as the Legislature may by law direct.
XVIII. That the person of a debtor, where there is not strong presumption of fraud, shall not be continued in prison after
delivering up his estate for the benefit of his creditor or creditors, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
XIX. That the printing presses shall be free to every person who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the Legislature,
or of any branch or officer of Government; and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free
communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write and
print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty. But in prosecutions for the publication of papers
investigating the official conduct of officers or men in public capacity, the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and in all
indictments for libels, the jury shall have a right to determine the law and the facts, under the direction of the Court, as in
other criminal cases.
XX. That no retrospective law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, shall be made.
XXI. That no mans particular services shall be demanded, or property taken, or applied to public use, without the consent
of his representatives, or without just compensation being made therefor.
XXII. That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free State, and shall not be allowed.
XXIII. That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together, for their common good, to instruct their
representatives, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper
purposes, by address or remonstrance.
XXIV. That the sure and certain defence of a free people, is a well regulated militia: and, as standing armies in time of peace
are dangerous to freedom, they ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and safety of the community will admit; and
that in all cases the military shall be kept in strict subordination to the civil authority.
XXV. That no citizen of this State, except such as are employed in the army of the United States, or militia in actual service,
shall be subjected to corporeal punishment under the martial law.
XXVI. That the free white men of this State have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defence.
XXVII. That no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of
war, but in a manner prescribed by law.
XXVIII. That no citizen of this State shall be compelled to bear arms, provided he will pay an equivalent, to be ascertained
XXIX. That an equal participation of the free navigation of the Mississippi, is one of the inherent rights of the citizens of this
State: it cannot, therefore, be conceded to any prince, potentate, power, person or persons whatever.
XXX. That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors, shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.
XXXI. That the limits and boundaries of this State be ascertained, it is declared they are as hereafter mentioned, that is to
say: Beginning on the extreme height of the Stone mountain, at the place where the line of Virginia intersects it, in latitude
thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north; running thence along the extreme height of the said mountain to the place where
Watauga river breaks through it; thence a direct course to the top of the Yellow mountain, where Brights road crosses the
same; thence along the ridge of said mountain between the waters of Doe river and the waters of Rock creek, to the place
where the road crosses the Iron mountain; from thence along the extreme height of said mountain, to the place where
Nolichucky river runs through the same; thence to the top of the Bald mountain; thence along the extreme height of said
mountain, to the Painted Rock, on French Broad river; thence along the highest ridge of said mountain, to the place where it
is called the Great Iron or Smoky mountain; thence along the extreme height of said mountain, to the place where it is called
Unicoi or Unaka mountain, between the Indian towns of Cowee and Old Chota; thence along the main ridge of the said
mountain, to the southern boundary of this State, as described in the act of cession of North Carolina to the United States of
America: and that all the territory, lands and waters lying west of the said line, as before mentioned, and contained within the
chartered limits of the State of North Carolina, are within the boundaries and limits of this State, over which the people have
the right of exercising sovereignty and the right of soil, so far as is consistent with the constitution of the United States,
recognizing the articles of confederation, the bill of rights, and constitution of North Carolina, the cession act of the said
State, and the ordinance of Congress for the government of the territory north west of the Ohio: provided, nothing herein
contained shall extend to affect the claim or claims of individuals, to any part of the soil which is recognized to them by the
aforesaid cession act: and provided also, that the limits and jurisdiction of this State shall extend to any other land and
territory now acquired, or that may hereafter be acquired by compact or agreement with other States or otherwise, although
such land and territory are not included within the boundaries herein before designated.
XXXII. The people residing south of French Broad and Holston between the rivers Tennessee and Big Pigeon, are entitled
to the right of pre-emption and occupancy in that tract.
I. The powers of the Government shall be divided into three distinct departments; the Legislative, Executive and Judicial.
II. No person or persons belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any of the powers properly belonging to
either of the others, except in the cases herein directed or permitted.
III. The Legislative authority of this State shall be vested in General Assembly, which shall consist of a Senate and House of
Representatives, both dependent on the people.
IV. An enumeration of the qualified voters and an apportionment of the Representatives of the General Assembly, shall be
made in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-one, and within every subsequent term of ten years.
V. The number of Representatives shall, at the several periods of making the enumeration, be apportioned among the
several counties or districts according to the number of qualified voters in each; and shall not exceed seventy-five, until the
population of the State shall be one million and a half; and shall never thereafter exceed ninety-nine; provided, that any
county having two-thirds of the ratio, shall be entitled to one member.
VI. The number of Senators shall, at the several periods of making the enumeration, be apportioned among the several
counties or districts, according to the number of qualified electors in each, and shall not exceed one-third the number of
Representatives. In apportioning the Senators among the different counties, the fraction that may be lost by any county or
counties, in the apportionment of Members to the House of Representatives, shall be made up to such county or counties in
the Senate as near as may be practicable. When a district is composed of two or more counties, they shall be adjoining; and
no county shall be divided in forming a district.
VII. The first election for Senators and Representatives shall be held on the first Thursday in August, one thousand eight
hundred and thirty-five; and forever thereafter, elections for Members of the General Assembly shall be held once in two
years, on the first Thursday in August; said elections shall terminate the same day.
VIII. The first session of the General Assembly shall commence on the first Monday in October, one thousand eight
hundred and thirty-five; and forever thereafter, the General Assembly shall meet on the first Monday in October, next
ensuing the election.
IX. No person shall be a Representative, unless he shall be a citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years,
and shall have been a citizen of this State for three years, and a resident in the county he represents one year immediately
preceding the election.
X. No person shall be a Senator unless he shall be a citizen of the United States, of the age of thirty years, and shall have
resided thee [three] years in this State, and one year in the county or district, immediately preceding the election. No
Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be eligible to any office or place of trust, the
appointment to which is vested in the Executive or the General Assembly, except to the office of Trustee of a literary
XI. The Senate and House of Representatives, when assembled, shall each choose a Speaker and its other officers, be
judges of the qualifications and election of its members, and sit upon its own adjournments from day to day. Two-thirds of
each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be
authorized by law to compel the attendance of absent members.
XII. Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the
concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same offence; and shall have all other powers
necessary for a branch of the Legislature of a free State.
XIII. Senators and Representatives shall in all cases, except treason, felony or breach of the peace, be privileged from
arrest during the session of the General Assembly, and in going to and returning from the same; and, for any speech or
debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
XIV. Each House may punish by imprisonment, during its session, any person not a Member, who shall be guilty of
disrespect to the House, by any disorderly or contemptuous behaviour in its presence.
XV. When vacancies happen in either House, the Governor for the time being, shall issue writs of election to fill such
XVI. Neither House shall, during its session, adjourn without consent of the other for more than three days, nor to any
other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
XVII. Bills may originate in either house, but may be amended, altered or rejected, by the other.
XVIII. Every bill shall be read once on three different days, and be passed each time in the House where it originated,
before transmission to the other. No bill shall become a law, until it shall be read and passed on three different days in each
House, and be signed by the respective Speakers.
XIX. After a bill has been rejected, no bill containing the same substance shall be passed into a law during the same
XX. The style of the laws of this State shall be, Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of
XXI. Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and publish it, except such parts as the welfare of the State may
require to be kept secret; the ayes and noes shall be taken in each House upon the final passage of every bill of a general
character, and bills making appropriations of public moneys; and the ayes and noes of the members on any question shall, at
the request of any two of them, be entered on the journal.
XXII. The doors of each House and of Committees of the Whole, shall be kept open, unless when the business shall be
such as ought to be kept secret.
XXIII. The sum of four dollars per day, and four dollars for every twenty-five miles travelling to and from the Seat of
Government, shall be allowed to the Members of the first General Assembly, as a compensation for their services. The
compensation of the Members of the succeeding Legislatures, shall be ascertained by law; but no law increasing the
compensation of the Members shall take effect until the commencement of the next regular session after such law shall have
XXIV. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law: and an accurate
statement of the receipts and expenditures of the public money, shall be attached to and published with the laws at the rise
of each stated session of the General Assembly.
XXV. No person, who heretofore hath been, or may hereafter be, a collector or holder of public moneys, shall have a seat
in either House of the General Assembly, until such person shall have accounted for and paid into the treasury, all sums for
which he may be accountable or liable.
XXVI. No Judge of any court of law or equity, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Register, Clerk of any court of
record, or person holding any office under the authority of the United States, shall have a seat in the General Assembly; nor
shall any person in this State hold more than one lucrative office at the same time: Provided, that no appointment in the
militia, or to the office of Justice of the Peace, shall be considered a lucrative office, or operate as a disqualification to a seat
in either House of the General Assembly.
XXVII. Any member of either House of the General Assembly shall have liberty to dissent from, and protest against, any
act or resolve which he may think injurious to the public or to any individual, and to have the reasons for his dissent entered
on the journals.
XXVIII. All lands liable to taxation, held by deed, grant, or entry, town lots, bank stock, slaves between the ages of twelve
and fifty years, and such other property as the Legislature may from time to time deem expedient, shall be taxable. All
property shall be taxed according to its value; that value to be ascertained in such manner as the Legislature shall direct, so
that the same shall be equal and uniform throughout the State. No other species of property from which a tax may be
collected, shall be taxed higher than any other species of property of equal value. But the Legislature shall have power to tax
merchants, pedlars, and privileges, in such manner as they may, from time to time, direct. A tax on white polls shall be laid,
in such manner and of such an amount, as may be prescribed by law.
XXIX. The General Assembly shall have power to authorize the several Counties and Incorporated Towns in this State, to
impose taxes for county and corporation purposes respectively, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law; and all
property shall be taxed according to its value, upon the principles established in regard to State taxation.
XXX. No article manufactured of the produce of this State, shall be taxed otherwise than to pay inspection fees.
XXXI. The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of slaves, without the consent of
their onwer or owners.
I. The Supreme Executive power of this State, shall be vested in a Governor.
II. The Governor shall be chosen by the electors of the Members of the General Assembly, at the times and places where
they shall respectively vote for the members thereof. The returns of every election for Governor shall be sealed up, and
transmitted to the seat of government, by the returning officers, directed to the Speaker of the Senate, who shall open and
publish them in the presence of a majority of the members of each House of the General Assembly. The person having the
highest number of votes, shall be Governor; but if two or more shall be equal, and highest in votes, one of them shall be
chosen Governor by joint vote of both Houses of the General Assembly. Contested elections for Governor, shall be
determined by both Houses of the General Assembly, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
III. He shall be at least thirty years of age, shall be a citizen of the United States, and shall have been a citizen of this State
seven years next before his election.
IV. The Governor shall hold his office for two years, and until his successor shall be elected and qualified. He shall not be
eligible more than six years in any term of eight.
V. He shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of this State, and of the militia, except when they shall be called
into the service of the United States.
VI. He shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, after conviction, except in cases of impeachment.
VII. He shall, at stated times, receive a compensation for his services, which shall not be increased or diminished during the
period for which he shall have been elected.
VIII. He may require information in writing, from the officers in the executive department, upon any subject relating to the
duties of their respective offices.
IX. He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the General Assembly, by proclamation; and shall state to them, when
assembled, the purposes for which they shall have been convened; but they shall enter on no legislative business, except that
for which they were specially called together.
X. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
XI. He shall, from time to time, give to the General Assembly, information of the state of the government, and recommend
to their consideration such measures as he shall judge expedient.
XII. In case of the removal of the Governor from office, or of his death, or resignation, the powers and duties of the office
shall devolve on the Speaker of the Senate; and in case of the death, removal from office, or resignation of the Speaker of
the Senate, the powers and duties of the office shall devolve on the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
XIII. No member of Congress, or person holding any office under the United States, or this State, shall execute the office
XIV. When any officer, the right of whose appointment is by this Constitution vested in the General Assembly, shall, during
the recess, die, or the office, by the expiration of the term, or by other means, become vacant, the Governor shall have the
power to fill such vacancy, by granting a temporary commission, which shall expire at the end of the next session of the
XV. There shall be a Seal of this State, which shall be kept by the Governor, and used by him officially, and shall be called
the Great Seal of the State of Tennessee.
XVI. All grants and commissions shall be in the name and by the authority of the State of Tennessee, be sealed with the
State Seal, and signed by the Governor.
XVII. A Secretary of State shall be appointed by joint vote of the General Assembly, and commissioned during the term of
four years: he shall keep a fair register of all the official acts and proceedings of the Governor; and shall, when required, lay
the same, and all papers, minutes and vouchers relative thereto, before the General Assembly: and shall perform such other
duties as shall be enjoined by law.
I. Every free white man of the age of twenty-one years, being a citizen of the United States, and a citizen of the County
wherein he may offer his vote, six months next preceding the day of election, shall be entitled to vote for Members of the
General Assembly, and other civil officers, for the County or District in which he resides: provided, that no person shall be
disqualified from voting in any election on account of color, who is now by the laws of this State, a competent witness in a
court of justice against a white man. All free men of color, shall be exempt from military duty in time of peace, and also from
paying a free poll tax.
II. Laws may be passed excluding from the right of suffrage, persons who may be convicted of infamous crimes.
III. Electors shall in all cases, except treason, felony or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest or summons, during
their attendance at elections, and in going to and returning from them.
IV. In all elections to be made by the General Assembly, the Members thereof shall vote viva voce; and their votes shall
be entered on the journal. All other elections shall be by ballot.
I. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeachment.
II. All impeachments shall be tried by the Senate; when sitting for that purpose, the Senators shall be upon oath or
affirmation. No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senators sworn to try the officer
III. The House of Representatives shall elect, from their own body, three Members, whose duty it shall be to prosecute
impeachments. No impeachment shall be tried until the Legislature shall have adjourned sine die, when the Senate shall
proceed to try such impeachment.
IV. The Governor, Judges of the Supreme Court, Judges of Inferior Courts, Chancellors, Attorneys for the State, and
Secretary of State, shall be liable to impeachment, whenever they may, in the opinion of the House of Representatives,
commit any crime in their official capacity, which may require disqualification; but judgment shall only extend to removal
from office, and disqualification to fill any office thereafter. The party shall, nevertheless, be liable to indictment, trial,
judgment and punishment, according to law.
V. Justices of the Peace, and other civil officers, not hereinbefore mentioned, for crimes or misdemeanors in office, shall be
liable to indictment in such courts as the Legislature may direct; and upon conviction, shall be removed from office, by said
court, as if found guilty on impeachment; and shall be subject to such other punishment as may be prescribed by law.
I. The Judicial power of this State, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, in such Inferior Courts as the Legislature shall
from time to time ordain and establish, and the Judges thereof and in Justices of the Peace: The Legislature may also vest
such jurisdiction as may be deemed necessary in Corporation Courts.
II. The Supreme Court shall be composed of three Judges, one of whom shall reside in each of the grand divisions of the
State; the concurrence of two of said Judges, shall in every case be necessary to a decision. The jurisdiction of this Court
shall be appellate only, under such restrictions and regulations as may from time to time be prescribed by law; but it may
possess such other jurisdiction as is now conferred by law on the present Supreme Court. Said Courts shall be held at one
place, and at one place only, in each of the three grand divisions in the State.
III. The General Assembly shall, by joint vote of both Houses, appoint Judges of the several Courts of law and equity; but
courts may be established to be holden by Justices of the Peace. Judges of the Supreme Court shall be thirty-five years of
age, and shall be elected for the term of twelve years.
IV. The Judges of such Inferior Courts as the Legislature may establish, shall be thirty years of age, and shall be elected for
the term of twelve years.
V. The Legislature shall elect Attorneys for the State, by joint vote of both Houses, of the General Assembly, who shall
hold their offices for the term of six years. In all cases where an Attorney for any district fails or refuses to attend, and
prosecute according to law, the court shall have power to appoint an attorney pro tempore.
VI. Judges and Attorneys for the State, may be removed from office by a concurrent vote of both Houses of the General
Assembly, each House voting separately; but two-thirds of all the Members elected to each House must concur in such
vote: the vote shall be determined by ayes and noes, and the names of the Members voting for or against the Judge or
Attorney for the State, together with the cause or causes of removal, shall be entered on the journals of each House
respectively. The Judge or Attorney for the State, against whom the Legislature may be about to proceed, shall receive
notice thereof, accompanied with a copy of the causes alleged for his removal, at least ten days before the day on which
either House of the General Assembly shall act thereupon.
VII. The Judges of the Supreme and Inferior Courts, shall, at stated times, receive a compensation for their services, to be
ascertained by law, which shall not be increased or diminished, during the time for which they are elected. They shall not be
allowed any fees or perquisites of office, nor hold any other office of trust or profit under this State or the United States.
VIII. The jurisdiction of such Inferior Courts, as the Legislature may from time to time establish, shall be regulated by law.
IX. Judges shall not charge Juries with respect to matters of fact, but may state the testimony and declare the law.
X. The Judges or Justices of such Inferior Courts of law as the Legislature may establish, shall have power, in all civil cases,
to issue writs of certiorari to remove any cause or transcript thereof, from any inferior jurisdiction, into said court on
sufficient cause supported by oath or affirmation.
XI. No Judge of the Supreme or Inferior Courts, shall preside on the trial of any cause, in the event of which he may be
interested or where either of the parties shall be connected with him by affinity or consanguinity, within such degrees as may
be prescribed by law, or in which he may have been of counsel, or in which he may have presided in any Inferior Court,
except by consent of all the parties. In case all or any of the Judges of the Supreme Court, shall be thus disqualified from
presiding on the trial of any cause or causes, the Court, or the Judges thereof, shall certify the same to the Governor of the
State, and he shall forthwith specially commission the requisite number of men of law knowledge, for the trial and
determination thereof. In case of sickness of any of the Judges of the Supreme or Inferior Courts, so that they or any of
them are unable to attend, the Legislature shall be authorized to make provision by general laws, that special Judges may be
appointed to attend said Courts.
XII. All writs and other process shall run in the name of the State of Tennessee; and bear test and be signed by the
respective clerks. Indictments shall conclude, against the peace and dignity of the State.
XIII. Judges of the Supreme Court shall appoint their Clerks, who shall hold their offices for the period of six years.
Chancellor (if Courts of Chancery shall be established) shall appoint their Clerks and Masters, who shall hold their offices
for the period of six years. Clerks of such Inferior Courts as may be hereafter established, which shall be required to be
holden in the respective counties of this State, shall be elected by the qualified voters thereof, for the term of four years; they
shall be removed from office for malfeasance, incompetency or neglect of duty, in such manner as may be prescribed by
XIV. No fine shall be laid on any citizen of this State, that shall exceed fifty dollars; unless it shall be assessed by a jury of
his peers, who shall assess the fine at the time they find the fact, if they think the fine should be more than fifty dollars.
XV. The different counties in this State shall be laid off as the General Assembly may direct, into districts of convenient
size, so that the whole number in each County shall not be more than twenty-five, or four for every one hundred square
miles. There shall be two Justices of the Peace and one Constable elected in each district, by the qualified voters therein,
except districts including county towns, which shall elect three Justices and two Constables. The jurisdiction of said officers
shall be co-extensive with the County. Justices of the Peace shall be elected for the term of six, and Constables for the term
of two years. Upon the removal of either of said officers from the district in which he was elected, his office shall become
vacant from the time of such removal. Justices of the Peace shall be commissioned by the Governor. The Legislature shall
have power to provide for the appointment of an additional number of Justices of the Peace in incorporated towns.
I. There shall be elected in each County, by the qualified voters therein, one Sheriff, one Trustee, and one Register; the
Sheriff and Trustee for two years, and the Register for four years: provided, that no person shall be eligible to the office of
Sheriff more than six years in any term of eight years. There shall be elected for each County, by the Justices of the Peace,
one Coroner and one Ranger, who shall hold their offices for two years. Said officers shall be removed for malfeasance, or
neglect of duty, in such manner as may be prescribed by law.
II. Should a vacancy occur, subsequent to an election, in the office of sheriff, trustee, or register, it shall be filled by the
justices; if in that of the clerks to be elected by the people, it shall be filled by the courts; and the person so appointed, shall
continue in office until his successor shall be elected and qualified; and such office shall be filled by the qualified voters at the
first election for any of the county officers.
III. There shall be a Treasurer or Treasurers appointed for the State, by the joint vote of both Houses of the General
Assembly, who shall hold his or their offices for two years.
IV. The election of all officers, and the filling of all vacancies that may happen, by death, resignation, or removal, not
otherwise directed or provided for by this Constitution, shall be made in such manner as the Legislature shall direct.
V. The Legislature shall provide, that the election of the county and other officers by the people, shall not take place at the
same time that the general elections are held for Members of Congress, Members of the Legislature, and Governor. The
elections shall commence and terminate on the same day.
I. All Militia officers shall be elected by persons subject to military duty, within the bounds of their several companies,
battalions, regiments, brigades and divisions, under such rules and regulations as the Legislature may, from time to time,
direct and establish.
II. The Governor shall appoint the Adjutant General and his other Staff Officers; the Majors General, Brigadiers General
and commanding officers of regiments, shall respectively appoint their Staff Officers.
III. The Legislature shall pass laws, exempting citizens belonging to any sect or denomination of religion, the tenets of which
are known to be opposed to the bearing of arms, from attending private and general musters.
I. Whereas, Ministers of the Gospel are, by their profession, dedicated to God and the care of souls, and ought not to be
diverted from the great duties of their functions; therefore, no Minister of the Gospel or Priest of any denomination
whatever, shall be eligible to a seat in either House of the Legislature.
II. No person who denies the being of a God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil
department of this State.
III. Any person who shall, after the adoption of this Constitution, fight a duel, or knowingly be the bearer of a challenge to
fight a duel, or send or accept a challenge for that purpose, or be an aider or abettor in fighting a duel, shall be deprived of
the right to hold any office of honor or profit in this State, and shall be punished otherwise, in such manner as the Legislature
I. Every person who shall be chosen or appointed to any office of trust or profit, under this Constitution, or any law made
in pursuance thereof, shall, before entering on the duties thereof, take an oath to support the Constitution of this State, and
of the United States, and an oath of office.
II. Each Member of the Senate and House of Representatives, shall before they proceed to business, take an oath or
affirmation, to support the Constitution of this State, and of the United States, and also the following oath:
I, ____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm,) that, as a Member of this General Assembly, I will, in all
appointments, vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice; and that I will not propose or assent to any bill,
vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people, or consent to any act or thing whatever, that
shall have a tendency to lessen or abridge their rights and privileges, as declared by the Constitution of this State.
III. Any elector who shall receive any gift or reward for his vote, in meat, drink, money, or otherwise, shall suffer such
punishment as the laws shall direct. And any person who shall directly or indirectly give, promise or bestow, any such
reward to be elected, shall thereby be rendered incapable for six years, to serve in the office for which he was elected, and
be subject to such further punishment, as the Legislature shall direct.
IV. New Counties may be established by the Legislature, to consist of not less than three hundred and fifty square miles,
and which shall contain a population of four hundred and fifty qualified voters. No line of such county shall approach the
court house of any old County from which it may be taken, nearer than twelve miles. No part of a county shall be taken to
form a new County or a part thereof, without the consent of a majority of the qualified voters in such part taken off. And in
all cases where an old County may be reduced for the purpose of forming a new one, the seat of justice in said old county
shall not be removed without the concurrence of two-thirds of both branches of the Legislature, nor shall said old county be
reduced to less than six hundred and twenty-five square miles: provided, however that the county of Bedford may be
reduced to four hundred and seventy-five square miles; and there shall not be laid off more than one new county on the
West, and one on the East, adjoining the county of Bedford, and no new county line shall run nearer than eleven and a half
miles of the seat of justice of said county. The line of a new county may run within eleven miles of the seat of justice of
Franklin county; provided, it does not reduce said county to less contents than six hundred and twenty-five square miles.
The counties of Carter, Rhea, Tipton, Dyer and Sullivan are excepted out of the provisions of this section: the county of
Humphreys may be divided, at such time as may be prescribed by the Legislature, making the Tennessee river the dividing
line; a majority of the qualified voters of said county voting in favor of said division: the counties of Carter, Rhea and
Humphreys, shall not be divided into more than two counties each; nor shall more than one new county be taken out of the
territory no comprising the counties of Tipton and Dyer; nor shall the seats of justice in the counties of Rhea, Carter, Tipton
and Dyer, be removed, without the concurrence of two-thirds of both branches of the Legislature. The county of Sullivan
may be reduced below the contents of six hundred and twenty-five square miles, but the line of any new county which may
hereafter be laid off shall not approach the county seat of said county nearer than ten miles. The counties of Marion and
Bledsoe shall not be reduced below one thousand qualified voters each, in forming a new county or counties.
V. The citizens who may be included in any new county, shall vote with the county or counties from which they may have
been stricken off, for members of Congress, for Governor and for members of the General Assembly, until the next
apportionment of members to the General Assembly after the establishment of such new county.
I. All laws and ordinances now in force and use in this State, not inconsistent with this Constitution, shall continue in force
and use, until they shall expire, be altered or repealed by the Legislature.
II. Nothing contained in this Constitution, shall impair the validity of any debts or contracts, or effect any rights of property,
or any suits, actions, rights of action, or other proceedings in courts of justice.
III. Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in the Senate or House of Representatives; and
if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each of the two Houses, such proposed
amendment or amendments shall be entered on their journals, with the yeas and nays thereon, and referred to the General
Assembly then next to be chosen: and shall be published for six months previous to the time of making such choice. And if in
the General Assembly next chosen as aforesaid, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by
two-thirds of all the members elected to each House, then it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to submit such
proposed amendment or amendments to the people, in such manner, and at such time, as the General Assembly shall
prescribe. And if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments, by a majority of all the citizens of the
State, voting for Representatives, voting in their favor, such amendment or amendments shall become part of this
Constitution. When any amendment or amendments to the Constitution shall be proposed in pursuance of the foregoing
provisions, the same shall at each of the said sessions be read three times on three several days in each House. The
Legislature shall not propose amendments to the Constitution, oftener than once in six years.
IV. The Legislature shall have no power to grant divorces, but may authorize the courts of justice to grant them for such
causes as may be specified by law: provided, that such laws be general and uniform in their operation throughout the State.
V. The Legislature shall have no power to authorize lotteries for any purpose, and shall pass laws to prohibit the sale of
lottery tickets in this State.
VI. The Legislature shall fix the rate of interest - and the rate so established shall be equal and uniform throughout the
VII. The Legislature shall have no power to suspend any general law for the benefit of any particular individual, nor to pass
any law for the benefits of individuals inconsistent with the general laws of the land; nor to pass any law granting to any
individual or individuals, rights, privileges, immunities, or exemptions, other than such as may be, by the same law, extended
to any member of the community, who may be able to bring himself within the provisions of such law: provided always, the
Legislature shall have power to grant such charters of corporation as they may deem expedient for the public good.
VIII. The Legislature shall have the right to vest such powers in the courts of justice, with regard to private and local affairs,
as may be deemed expedient.
IX. A well regulated system of internal improvement is calculated to develop the resources of the State, and promote the
happiness and prosperity of her citizens; therefore it ought to be encouraged by the General Assembly.
X. Knowledge, learning, and virtue, being essential to the preservation of republican institutions, and the diffusion of the
opportunities and advantages of education throughout the different portions of the State, being highly conducive to the
promotion of this end; it shall be the duty of the General Assembly in all future periods of this government, to cherish
literature and science. And the fund called the common school fund, and all the lands and proceeds thereof, dividends,
stocks, and other property of every description whatever, heretofore by law appropriated by the General Assembly of this
State for the use of common schools, and all such as shall hereafter be appropriated, shall remain a perpetual fund, the
principal of which shall never be diminished by legislative appropriation, and the interest thereof shall be inviolably
appropriated to the support and encouragement of common schools throughout the State, and for the equal benefit of all the
people thereof; and no law shall be made authorizing said fund, or any part thereof, to be diverted to any other use than the
support and encouragement of common schools; and it shall be the duty of the General Assembly, to appoint a Board of
Commissioners, for such term of time as they may think proper, who shall have the general superintendence of said fund,
and who shall make a report of the condition of the same, from time to time, under such rules, regulations and restrictions as
may be required by law; provided, that if at any time hereafter a division of the public lands of the United States, or of the
money arising from the sales of such lands, shall be made among the individual States, the part of such lands, or money,
coming to this State, shall be devoted to the purposes of education and internal improvements; and shall never be applied to
any other purpose.
XI. The above provisions shall not be construed to prevent the Legislature from carrying into effect any laws that have been
passed in favor of the colleges, universities or academies, or from authorizing heirs or distributees to receive and enjoy
escheated property, under such rules and regulations as from time to time may be prescribed by law.
XII. The Declaration of Rights hereto prefixed, is declared to be a part of the Constitution of this State, and shall never be
violated on any pretence whatever. And to guard against transgression of the high powers we have delegated, we declare
every thing in the Bill of Rights contained, is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain
I. That no inconvenience may arise from a change of the Constitution, it is declared, that all officers, civil and military, shall
continue to hold their offices; and all the functions appertaining to the same shall be exercised and performed according to
the existing laws and Constitution, until the end of the first session of the General Assembly, which shall sit under this
Constitution, and until the government can be re-organized and put into operation under this Constitution, in such manner as
the first General Assembly under this Constitution shall be held in Nashville.
II. The General Assembly which shall sit after the first apportionment of representation under the new Constitution, to wit,
in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-three, shall, within the first week after the commencement of the session,
designate and fix the seat of government; and when so fixed; it shall not be removed except by the consent of two-thirds of
the members of both Houses of the General Assembly. The first and second sessions of the General Assembly under this
Constitution shall be held at Nashville.
III. Until a land office shall be opened, so as to enable the citizens south and west of the congressional reservation line, to
obtain titles upon their claims of occupancy, those who hold lands by virtue of such claims, shall be eligible to serve in all
capacities where a freehold is, by the laws of the State, made a requisite qualification.
Done in Convention at Nashville, this thirtieth day of August, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, and of the
Independence of the United States of America the fifty-ninth, In testimony whereof, we have hereunto subscribed our names.
William B. Carter, President.
Robert Allen, William Ledbetter,
Hugh C. Armstrong, William H. Loving,
Adan R. Alexander, Abraham McClellan,
Richard Bradshaw, Robert J. McKinney,
Robert M. Burton, Joseph A. Mabry,
Willie Blount, John McGaughey,
Maclin Cross, John Montgomery,
James Gray, George W. L. Marr,
Newton Cannon, John Neil,
William G. Childress, Richard Nelson,
Terry H. Cahal, Thomas C. Porter,
Robert L. Cobbs, John Purdy,
Richard Cheatham, William C. Roadman,
Burchett Douglass, George W. Richardson,
Francis B. Fogg, Henry Ridley,
Gray Garrett, Julius C. N. Robertson,
James Gillespy, Matthew Stephenson,
Bolling Gordon, William T. Senter,
Callaway Hodges, James W. Smith,
Isaac Hill, William C. Smartt,
Adam Huntsman, Henry Sharp,
West H. Humphreys, James Scott,
Nelson I. Hess, Essie Ury,
John Kelly, John Whitson,
Andrew A. Kincannon, Isaac Walton,
Joseph Kincaid, John J. White,
Peter Kendall, Jonathan Webster,
Bradley Kimbrough, Robert Weakley.
William K. Hill, Secretary.