New Mexicos First Constitution 1850




This book is one of the first in the new series of Historians’ Editions issued by the Stagecoach Press in Santa Fé. Each will reprint a scarce historical document on the Southwest. The series will include Spanish documents, early maps, letters, and official reports – all important original source material for historians and collectors.

Some will be the first publication of letters and documents; others will be the first reprints since original publication.

Most are being issued in very limited editions of only 200 to 400 copies. Prices must therefore be slightly higher than on other standard books issued by the Stagecoach Press (ranked as an outstanding fine-press publisher in the Southwest.

Seven states in the Southwest would not be the same today if this constitution had gone into effect. New Mexico claimed the entire Texas Panhandle, plus parts of Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arizona, and Colorado!

New Mexico in 1850 was not yet an organized political Territory. It had a military governor. In May, 1850, this first constitution was drafted, then adopted by a vote of 8,371 to 39. A governor was elected and a U.S. senator names.

Then the uproar began: Texas claimed half of New Mexico and threatened to occupy Santa Fé. Washington refused to seat the senator or recognize the governor.

At the moment, Congress was hotly debating the Compromise of 1850 – trying to keep the balance of free and slave states, to settle Texas’ land claims, to decide on the admission of California. Small wonder that the proposed New Mexico constitution added to the argument!

This is a scarce document. Only three of the original English language copies still remain. It has not been reprinted since 1850, as far as is known.

Publisher’s Introduction

Copyright 1965 by Jack D. Rittenhouse.



This is a reprint of the complete text of the English language edition of the first constitution written for New Mexico. It was drafted in 1850 but never went into effect because at that time New Mexico was not yet an organized territory of the United States but was under the direction of a military governor. This document, containing many interesting sections, became the center of a small uproar because it appeared when the Congress in Washington was hotly debating the proposed Compromise of 1850. That debate included arguments over such problems as Texas' claim to New Mexico lands east of the Rio Grande and the question of slavery in newly-admitted territories.

Into that controversy came this document, by which New Mexico laid a counter-claim to the Texas Panhandle and also took a firm stand against slavery.

By the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on May 30, 1848, New Mexico became part of the United States. A convention was held in Santa Fe in October, 1848, and another was held in September, 1849. Not until the third convention, convened in May, 1850, was a constitution drafted. W. W. H. Davis in his book, El Gringo (1857), says the constitution was written by Joab Houghton and Murray F. Tuley.

On June 20, 1850, an election was held in the territory. Voters approved the constitution of 8,371 to 39. They also elected a full slate of state officials: Henry Connelley, governor; Manuel Alvarez, lieutenant governor; William S. Messervy, representative to Congress. The newly‑elected legislature named two U.S. senators: Francis A. Cunningham and Richard H. Weightman.

All of these actions were opposed by the federal government. The military governor of New Mexico declared the election null and void, since New Mexico at the time had no legal existence as a territory. Congress refused to seat the new “senators.”

The Compromise of 1850 was passed in September of that year. It provided for the organization of New Mexico as a Territory. Texas had to approve the boundary settlement, which it did in November. New Mexico was established along boundaries that approximated the present state lines of New Mexico and Arizona. The slavery issue was side-stepped. In March, 1851, the new Territorial government began operation in Santa Fe.

Some of the more interesting provisions of this constitution were: Divorce was granted only by an act of the legislature. No priest could be compelled to work on roads. No U.S. soldier could vote in a state election. Farmers and mechanics were exempt from income taxes. One-twelfth of all state revenue was to be used for schools. The Secretary of State of the Territory would also serve as superintendent of schools.”

H. H. Bancroft in his History of Arizona and New Mexico says that the constitution was “the work of a few Americans who acted for their own interest or that of their party” and who “thought they saw an opportunity to serve themselves.” For a more complete story of the convention, with the events immediately before and after it, the following other works are recommended: Loomis M. Ganaway, New Mexico and the Sectional Controversy, 1846-1861 (1944); and articles by Sister Mary Loyola in the New Mexico Historical Review; together with the books by Bancroft and Davis mentioned above.

This is the first complete reprint of the full text of this constitution. Copies of the original edition are quite rare. It was issued in both English and Spanish versions. The Spanish edition had 19 pages, without covers, starting with the title and text on the first page. The English edition had 18 pages, with the first page blank. Both editions had a blank last page. Douglas McMurtrie, an authority on printing in New Mexico has written that the style of type was identical with that used by the New Mexican, a Santa Fe newspaper in whose shop the document probably was printed.

Only three known copied of the English edition exist: in the National Archives; in the Yale University library; and in the private collection of Thomas W. Streeter, Morristown, New Jersey. The Historical Society of New Mexico once owned a copy but it disappeared some years ago.

Three copies of the Spanish edition are known: at the Harvard Law School Library; at the Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery; and the copy of The New Mexico Historical Society in the Museum of New Mexico.


In this edition you are now reading, the full text has been included. The spelling and punctuation of the original have been followed carefully. (Note that the "Schedule" at the end of the constitution includes two sections numbered 10.)


The publisher wishes to thank the National Archives for a photocopy of the original, from which type was set.


-Jack D. Rittenhouse




We, the people of New Mexico, in order to establish justice, promote the welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity; acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, and imploring his aid and direction in its accomplishment, do ordain and establish the following Constitution or form of Government, and do mutually agree with each other to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the name of the State of New Mexico, with the following limits and boundaries, to wit, as follows:



Beginning at the Dam in the Rio del Norte, which supplies with water the "asequia," or irrigating canal of the town of El Paso del Norte; and running thence due East to the hundredth parallel; thence due North on said parallel to a point where the same intersects the River Arkansas; thence up the middle of the channel of said River to its source; thence in a direct line to a point on the Rio Colorado of California, where the same is intersected by the one hundred and eleventh parallel of longitude West from Greenwich; thence due South on the said parallel of longitude to a point on the Rio Gila, intersected by the same; thence up the middle of the main channel of the said River to the point which may be designated by the Commissioners appointed to establish the line between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, as the point where said River or one of its branches shall be intersected by the Western line of New Mexico; thence South on said line, as the same shall be established by the Commissioners, to the angle formed by the States of Chihuahua, Sonora and New Mexico; thence Easterly on the line between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, as it shall be laid down by said Commissioners, to a point where the same may intersect the Rio del Norte; thence down said River to the place of beginning.



Declaration of Rights.


Sec. 1. All men being born equally free and independent, and having certain natural, inherent  and inalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending of life and liberty, the acquirement, possession and protection of property, and the pursuit of and attainment of happiness; therefore, no male person shall be held by law to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after he arrives at the age of twenty-one years; nor female in like manner, after she arrives at the age of eighteen years; unless the be bound by their own consent after they arrive at such age, or are bound by law for punishment of crime.

2. All power is inherent in the people; all free Governments are founded in their authority; they have therefore an inalienable and indefeasible right to institute Government, to alter and reform, or to totally change the same when their safety or happiness requires it.

3. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences, which right shall never be infringed, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society, mode of worship, or any control or interference with the rights of conscience by permitted.

4. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust in this  State; nor shall the civil rights, privileges or capacities, of any Citizen in any manner by diminished or enlarged on account of his religious opinions, except as in this Constitution hereinafter provided.

5. Every person may freely speak, write and publish, his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.

6. No law shall ever be passed to curtail or restrain the liberty of speech or the press.

7. The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and no warrant shall issue without describing the place to be searched, or the person or thing to be seized, as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause supported by oath or affirmation.

8. All elections shall be free and equal.                

9. The right of trial by jury shall be inviolable, except that the Legislature may authorize the trial of civil suits when the matter in dispute does not exceed fifty dollars, by a jury of six persons.

10. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the accusation against him, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have assistance of counsel in his defense.

11. No person shall be held to answer for a criminal offence unless on the presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases of impeachment, or in cases cognizable by justices of the Peace, or in the Army, or in the Militia, when in actual service, or in time of war.

12. No person, after acquittal, shall be tried for the same offence, and all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient securities, except for capital offences, when the proof is evident or the presumption great; and the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.

13. Excessive bail shall not be required; excessive fines shall not be imposed, or cruel and unjust punishment inflicted.

14. The Military shall be subordinate to the civil powers.  No standing Army shall be kept up by the State in time of peace; and no Soldier shall be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war except in the manner prescribed by law.

15. No person in this State, except such as are employed in the Army or Navy of the United States, or Militia, in time of actual service, shall be subject to corporeal punishment under the Military law.

16. Every Citizen shall have the right to keep or bear arms in the lawful defense of himself or the State.

17. No conviction shall work corruption of blood or confiscation of property.

18. No expost facto law, retroactive law, or any law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be made.

19. Emigration from this State shall never be prohibited; nor shall any Citizen ever be exiled under any pretence whatever.

20. No distinction shall ever be made by law between resident Aliens and Citizens, in reference to the possession, enjoyment or descent, of property.

21. The people have the right freely to assemble together to counsel for the common good, to make known their opinions to their representatives, and to petition for redress of grievances.

22. No power of suspending laws shall be exercised except by the Legislature or its authority.

23. This enumeration of Rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people.




Distribution of Powers.


Sec. 1. The powers of the government of the State of New Mexico shall be divided into three distinct departments, and each of them confided to separate bodies of magistracy, to wit: Those which are Legislative, to one; those which are Judicial, to another; and those which are Executive, to another.

2. No person, or collection of persons, being of one of those departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others, except in those instances hereinafter expressly directed or permitted.





Legislative Department.


Sec. 1. The Legislative powers of the State shall be vested in two distinct branches; one to be styled the Senate, the other the House of Representatives, and both together the Legislature of the State of New Mexico. The style of all laws shall be, — Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of New Mexico.

2. The members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by the qualified electors, and their term of office shall be two years from the day of their general election; and the session of the Legislature shall be held annually, at such time as shall be prescribed by law.

3. No person shall be a Representative unless he is a Citizen of the United States, and one year previous to his election a Citizen of this State, and six months of the county, city or town, for which he shall be chosen, and shall have attained the age of twenty-one years.

4. The number of Senators shall not be less than one third or more than one-half of the Representative body.

5. The Senators shall be chosen by the qualified electors, for the term of four years, and shall be divided by lot into two classes, as nearly equal as may be. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the first two years, and of the second class at the expiration of four years; so that one-half shall be chosen biennially thereafter; and such mode of classifying new additional Senators shall be observed as will, nearly as possible, preserve an equality of number in each class.

6. All elections by the people shall be held at such time and places, and in such manner in the several counties, cities and towns, as may be designated by law.

7. No person shall be a Senator unless he be a citizen of the United States, and shall have been an inhabitant of this State two years next preceding his election, and the last year thereof a resident of the district for which he shall have been, chosen, and shall have attained the age of twenty-five years.

8. Each House shall choose its own officers, (except when the Lieutenant Governor shall reside in the Senate,) and shall judge of the qualification and election of its own members; but contested elections shall be determined in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.

9.  Two-thirds of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and under such penalties as each House shall prescribe.

10. Each House may, with the consent of two-thirds of its members, for any good cause, expel and punish members for disorderly conduct; and each House may punish, by imprisonment, during the session, any person, not a member, for disrespectful or disorderly conduct in its presence, or for obstructing any of its proceedings, and may publish the same, or any part thereof, with the consent of two-thirds of its members.

11. The ayes and nays of either House shall, at the desire of any four members present, be entered on the Journal.

12. When a vacancy shall happen in either House, the Governor, or the person exercising the power of Governor, shall issue a writ of election to fill such vacancy.

13. The doors of each House shall be kept open, except on such occasions as in the opinion of the House may require secrecy.

14. Neither House shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which may they be sitting.

15. Bills may originate in either House, and may be amended, altered or rejected, by the other, and every Bill having passed both Houses, shall be signed by the Speaker and President of their respective Houses.

16. Every Bill shall be read on three different days in each House, unless in case of urgency three-fourths of the House, in which such bill is pending, shall deem it expedient to suspend this Rule.

17. No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any Civil office under this State, which shall have been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased during such time.

18. An accurate statement of the Receipts and Expenditures of the Public Money shall be attached to, and published with, the Laws at the rising of each session of the Legislature.

19. The Governor, and all other civil officers under this State shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office; but judgment in such cases shall not extend further than removal from office, and disqualification to hold any office of honor, profit or trust, under this State. The party, whether convicted or acquitted, shall, nevertheless, be liable to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

20. No judge of any Court of Record in this State, Secretary of State, Attorney-General, Clerk of any Court of Record, Sheriffs, or Collectors of Public Moneys, or persons holding any office under the United States, shall have a seat in any Legislature of this State.

21. Every person who shall be chosen or appointed to any office of trust or profit, shall, before entering on the duties thereof, take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of this State, and to faithfully discharge the duties of his office.

22. The Legislature shall have full power to exclude from the privilege of electing, or of being elected, any person convicted of bribery, perjury, or other infamous crime.

23. In the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-one, and every tenth year thereafter, an enumeration of all the inhabitants of this State shall be made, in such manner as prescribed by law.

24. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of impeaching; but a majority of the members elected must concur in an impeachment.

25. All impeachments shall be tried by the Senate; and when sitting for that purpose the Senators shall be upon oath or affirmation to do justice according to law.

26. No officer shall exercise his office after he shall have been impeached, until after his acquittal. And the impeachment of such officer shall not be carried to conviction without the consent of two‑thirds of the Senators.


Of the Executive.


Sec. 1. The Executive power shall be vested in a Governor, who shall hold his office for four years, and a Lieut. Governor, who shall be elected at the same time, and for the same term.

2. No person who is not a Citizen of the United States, and a qualified elector, and who shall not have resided in the State for three years next preceding his election, shall be eligible to the office of Governor or Lieut.-Governor.

3. The Governor and Lieut.-Governor shall be elected by the qualified electors of the State, at the time and places of choosing members of the Legislature. The persons respectively having the highest number of votes for Governor and Lieut.-Governor shall be elected; but in case two or more shall have an equal and the highest number of votes for Governor or Lieut.-Governor, the two Houses of the Legislature, at its next annual session, shall, forthwith, by joint ballot, choose one of the persons so having an equal and the highest number of votes for Governor or Lieut.-Governor. The returns of election for Governor shall be made as provided by law.

4. The Governor shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Military forces of the State. He shall have power to convene the Legislature on extraordinary occasions, and in case of invasion or danger from the prevalence of contagious disease at the Seat of Government, he may convene them at any other suitable place within the State. He shall communicate to the Legislature, at every session, the condition of the State, and recommend such matters to them for their consideration as he may deem expedient. He shall transact all necessary business with the officers, Civil and Military, of the Government.  He shall expedite all such measures as may be resolved upon by the Legislature, and shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.

5.  When any office shall, from any cause, become vacant, and no mode is provided by the Constitution for filling such vacancy, the Governor shall have power to fill such vacancy by granting a commission, which shall expire at the end of the next session of the Legislature, or at the next election by the people.

6. In case of disagreement between the two Houses of the Legislature as to the time of adjournment, the Governor shall have the power to adjourn the Legislature to such time as he may think proper; provided it be not beyond the time fixed by law for the meeting of the next Legislature.

7. No person, shall, while holding any other office under the United States, or under this State, execute the office of Governor, except as hereinafter expressly provided.

8. The Governor shall, at stated times, receive, for his services, a compensation which shall neither be increased or diminished during the time for which he shall have been elected; and the salary of the Governor shall never be less than two thousand five hundred dollars per annum.

9. The Lieut.- Governor shall, by virtue of his office, be President of the Senate; have a right, when in Committee of the Whole, to debate and vote on all subjects, and whenever the Senate are equally divided to give the casting vote. And in case of the death, resignation, removal from office, inability or refusal of the Governor to serve, or of his impeachment, or absence from the State, the Lieut.-Governor shall exercise the powers and authority appertaining to the Governor, until another be chosen at the regular election for Governor and be duly qualified, or until the Governor impeached, absent or disabled, shall be acquitted, return, or his disability be removed.

10.  Whenever the Government shall be administered by the Lieut.-Governor, or he shall be unable to attend as President of the Senate, the Senate shall elect one of its own members as President for the time being; and if, during the vacancy of the office of Governor, the Lieut.-Governor shall die, refuse to serve, or be removed from office, or be unable serve, or if he shall be impeached, or be absent from the State, the President, for the time being, of the Senate, shall, in like manner, administer the Government until he shall be superceded by a Governor or Lieutenant-Governor.

11. The Lieut.-Governor shall, while he acts as President of the Senate, receive, for his services, double the compensation which shall be allowed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and no more.

12. The Lieut.-Governor, or President, for the time being, of the Senate, shall, during the time he administers the Government as Governor, receive the same compensation which the Governor would have received had he been employed in the duties of his office, and no more. If the Lieut.-Governor shall be administering the Government, and shall, while in such administration, die, resign, or be absent from the State, during the recess of the Legislature, it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State to convene the Senate for the purpose of choosing a President, for the time being.

13. There shall be a Seal of the State, which shall be kept by the Governor and used by him officially.

14. All commissions shall be in the name and by the authority of the State of New Mexico, be sealed with the State Seal, signed by the Governor, and attested by the Secretary of State.

15. There shall be a Secretary of State, who shall be nominated by the Governor and appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Legislature, in joint ballot, and shall continue in office during the term of service of the Governor elect. He shall keep a fair register of al official acts and proceedings of the Governor, and shall, when required, lay the same, and all papers, minutes and vouchers, relative thereto, before the Legislature, or either House thereof; and shall perform such other duties as may be required of him by law.

16. Every Bill which shall have passed both Houses of the Legislature, shall be presented to the Governor: if he approve it he shall sign it; but if he not he shall return it, with his objections, to the House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large upon the Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If, after such reconsideration, three-fifths of the members elected shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, with the objections, to the other House, by which House it shall likewise be reconsidered. If passed by three‑fifths of the members elected, of that House, it shall become a law; but in such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by ayes and nays, and the names of the members voting, for or against the Bill, shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the Governor within four days (Sundays excepted,) if it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it; unless the Legislature, by its adjournment, before the expiration of the aforesaid four days, shall render a return within that time impracticable, -in which case, if not returned Within two days after the next meeting of the Legislature, after the expiration of the said four days, it shall be a law.

17.  Every Order, Resolution, or vote, to which the concurrence of both Houses of the Legislature may be necessary, except on questions of adjournment, shall be presented to the Governor, and before it shall take effect, be approved by him; or being disapproved, shall be repassed by the two Houses according to the rules and limitations prescribed in case of a Bill.

18. The Governor shall have power to remit fines and forfeitures, and by and with the consent of the Judges of the Supreme Court, or a majority thereof, to grant reprieves and pardons, in all cases except cases of impeachment.

19. He may require information in writing, from the officers of the Executive Departments, relative to the duties of their respective offices.

20. A State Treasurer, and a Controller of Public Accounts, shall be appointed by the Governor, with the consent of both Houses of the Legislature, for the period of four years; but in case of vacancy in either of said offices, during the recess of the Legislature, such vacancy shall be filled by the Governor, which appointment shall continue until action thereon is had by the next Legislature.

21. No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor or Lieut.-Governor for more than two terms out of three.



Judicial Department.

Sec. 1. The Judicial Power, as to all matters of Law and Equity, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such other inferior Courts as the Legislature may, from time to time, establish.

2. The Supreme Court shall consist of a Chief Justice and three Associate justices.

3. The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction only; and in no case shall a trial by jury be allowed in this Court. It shall have a general superintending control over all inferior Courts. It shall have power to issue writs of Habeas Corpus, Mandamus, Quo Warranto, Certiorari, and other original and remedial writs, and to hear and determine the same.

4. The State shall be divide into three Circuits, until the first general enumeration of all its inhabitants shall have made, or the Legislature shall otherwise direct, as follows: - The counties of Bernalillo and Valencia shall compose the Southern Circuit; the counties of Santa Ana, Santa Fe and San Miguel, the Central Circuit; and the counties of Taos and Rio Arriba, the Northern Circuit. In each county of each circuit a Circuit Court shall be held not less than Three times in each year. In each circuit, one of the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court shall be the judge thereof.

5. After the first enumeration of all the inhabitants of this State, in the year 1851, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law, the Legislature shall divide the State into four circuits, in each of which one of the four judges of the Supreme Court shall be appointed to hold Circuit Court not less than four times in each year in each county.

6. The jurisdiction of said Circuit Courts shall be prescribed by law, and the times and places of holding the same.

7. No Judge of the Supreme Court shall sit as a Judge of the same upon hearing and determination of any cause on which he, as a circuit Judge, has sat on its final determination.

8.  The Judges of the Supreme Court may be removed from office, for any cause, which is not sufficient ground for impeachment, on the address of two-thirds of the members of both Houses.

9. The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the Governor, with the consent of both Houses of the Legislature in joint ballot; and shall hold their offices for the term of six years, and until their successors be duly nominated and qualified.

10. On the trial of any cause brought up by appeal from a Circuit Court, three of the judges of the Supreme Court shall be necessary for a quorum.

11. The Judges of the Supreme Court, or a majority of them, shall appoint the clerks of the Supreme Court. The Judges of the Circuit Courts shall respectively appoint their own clerks.

12. All processes, writs, and proceedings, shall be carried on by the “name and authority of the State of New Mexico,” and shall conclude in the words, “against the peace and dignity of the same.”

13. A competent number of Justices of the Peace shall be elected by the people in each county, in such manner as the Legislature may direct, whose term of office, powers and duties, shall be regulated and defined by law.

14. All judicial officers, whether elected or appointed, shall be commissioned by the Governor.

15. Prosecuting Attorneys for the State, in the several Circuit Courts, shall be elected by both Houses of the Legislature in joint ballot, and commissioned by the Governor.

16. An Attorney General shall be appointed by both Houses of the Legislature in joint ballot, and commissioned by the Governor. His duties and term of office, as Attorney General and Prosecuting Attorney, shall be regulated by law.

17. The Judges of the Supreme Court, by virtue of their offices, shall be conservators of the peace throughout the State.

18.  The times and places of holding the Supreme Court shall be regulated and defined by law.

19. The Legislature shall pass laws for the establishment and regulation of tribunals of conciliation, defining their powers and duties. Such tribunals shall have power to render judgment to be obligatory on the parties, when they shall voluntarily submit their matter in difference to arbitration, and agree to abide the judgment, or assent thereto in writing.

20. The Legislature shall provide by law for the speedy publication of all Statute laws and judicial decisions, made within the State, as may be deemed expedient.

21. Sheriffs and Constables shall be elected by the qualified electors of each of the counties, whose term of office and duties shall be regulated and defined by law.





Sec. 1. The Militia of this State shall be composed of able-bodied male Citizens between the ages of eighteen and fifty years, except such as may hereafter be exempted by the Laws of the United States or of this State, and be armed, equipped and trained, as the Legislature may provide by law.

2. No person, or persons, conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to do Militia duty in times of peace; provided such person, or persons, shall pay an equivalent for such exemption in the same manner as other Citizens.  All Commissioned officers, Staff officers excepted, shall be elected by the persons liable to perform Military duty, and shall be commissioned by the Governor. No Minister of the Gospel, or Priest of any denomination whatever, shall be required to perform Military duty, work on Roads, or serve on juries.

3. The Governor shall have power to call out the Militia to execute the Laws of the State, to repress insurrections, and to repel invasions.





Sec. 1. A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the rights and liberties of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of this State to make suitable provisions for the support and maintenance of Public Schools.

2. The Legislature shall, at as early a day as practicable, establish Free Schools throughout the State, and shall furnish means for their support by taxation; and it shall be the duty of the Legislature to set apart not less than one-twelfth of the annual revenue of the State, derived from taxation, as a perpetual fund, which fund shall be appropriated to the support of Free Public Schools, and no law shall be made diverting said fund to any other use.

3. The supervision of public instruction shall be vested in a State superintendant, and such other officers as the Legislature may direct; the powers and duties of which officers shall be prescribed by law.  The Secretary of State shall, by virtue of his office, be the State superintendent, for which he shall receive no extra compensation under any pretence whatever.





Sec. 1. Every male person of the age of twenty-one years, or upwards (Africans, or the descendants of Africans, and uncivilized Indians excepted,) belonging to either of the following classes, and who shall have resided in this State for six months next preceding any election, shall be a qualified elector at such election.

First: Citizens of the United States residing in this State.

Second: Persons who elected to remain Citizens of the Republic of Mexico, according to Article Eighth of the Treaty of Peace, made and concluded between the United States of North America and the Republic of Mexico, at Guadalupe Hidalgo, and ratified by the Congress the thirtieth day of May, A.D. 1848, and who shall have taken, at least six months preceding any election, before some judge of the Supreme Court in this State, or before a Clerk of any Court of Record in this State, an oath renouncing and abjuring all allegiance or fealty to the Government of the Republic of Mexico, and to support the Constitution of the United States and of this State.

Third: Persons of foreign birth, not referred to in the two preceding clauses, who shall have declared their intention to become Citizens of the United States, conformably to the Laws of the United States on the subject of naturalization.

2. No Soldier in the Army of the United States shall be entitled to vote in this State.




General Provisions.


Sec. 1. Members of the Legislature, and all other officers, before they enter on the duties of their offices, shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, of this State, and faithfully and impartially to discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon them as such officers, according to the best of their ability and judgment.

2. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or in adhering to its enemies —giving them aid and comfort; and no person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or his own confession in open court.

3. The following officers shall never be allowed less than the following salaries, per annum, for their services: the Governor, two thousand five hundred dollars; the Secretary of State, twelve hundred dollars; Treasurer, six hundred dollars; Controller of Public Accounts, six hundred dollars; Attorney-General, six hundred dollars, and such fees as may be allowed by law; Chief Justice, eighteen hundred dollars; Associate Justices, fifteen hundred dollars each; and the Legislature shall provide by law for the compensation of all officers, servants, agents, and public contractors, not provided for by this Constitution.

The members of both Houses shall receive three dollars for each day’s attendance, during any session of the Legislature, and ten cents for each mile, coming and returning, from the Seat of Government. The Speaker of the House of Representatives shall receive four dollars per day, and the President of the Senate eight dollars per day.

4. All Civil officers shall reside within the State, and all district or county officers within their district or county, and shall keep their offices at such places therein as may be required by law.

5. Absence on the business of the State, or of the U. States, shall not forfeit a residence once obtained so as to deprive any one of the right of suffrage or of being elected or appointed to any office, under the exceptions contained in this Constitution.

6. Within five years after the adoption of this Constitution, the Laws, Civil and Criminal, shall be revised, digested, arranged and published, in such manner as the Legislature shall direct; and a like revision, digestion, and publication, shall be made every five years thereafter.

7. All revenue shall be raised by taxation, to be fixed by law. No other or greater amount of revenue shall, at any time, be levied than is required for the necessary expenses of the Government, unless by a concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses of the Legislature.

8. The Legislature shall have power to lay an income tax, to tax all persons pursuing any trade, occupation or profession; provided that the term occupation shall not be construed to apply to pursuits either agricultural or mechanical. Corporations shall not be created in this State by special laws, except for municipal purposes; but the Legislature may provide, by general laws, for the organization of all other corporations, as hereinafter provided.

9. The Legislature shall not have power to create, authorize, or incorporate, by any general or special law, any Bank or Banking privilege, or power, or any institution or corporation having any Banking privilege or power whatever, except as provided in the section following.

10. The Legislature may submit to the voters of any general election the question of Bank or no Bank, and if, at any such election, a number of votes equal to a majority of all the votes cast at such election, on that question, shall be in favor of Banks, then the Legislature shall have power to pass a general Banking Law, with such restrictions, and under such regulations as they may deem expedient for the safety of the bill-holders.

11. The credit of the State shall never by loaned for the benefit of any individual, corporation or association.

12. No divorce from the bonds of matrimony shall ever be granted, except by special act of the Legislature.

13. The Legislature shall, at the first session thereof, and may at any subsequent session, establish new counties for the convenience of the inhabitants of such new county or counties, or district.

14. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in pursuance of appropriations made by law.

15. The Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney-General, and Controller of Public Accounts, shall keep their offices at the Seat of Government.

16. After the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty two, whenever two-thirds of the members elected to the Legislature shall think it necessary to amend or change this Constitution, they shall recommend to the electors, at the next election for members of the Legislature, to vote for or against a Convention, and if it shall appear that a majority of the Citizens of the State, voting for Representatives, have voted for a Convention, the Legislature shall, at its next session, call a Convention, to consist of as many members as there may be in the Legislature, to be chosen in the same manner, at the same places, and by the same electors that chose the Legislature, who shall meet within two months after the said election for the purpose of revision, amending, or changing the Constitution.

17. Until a census of the people of this State shall have been taken, or until the Legislature shall otherwise direct, and the division shall be otherwise arranged by law, there shall be the following representation in the Legislature of this State: to the House of Representatives, from the county of Valencia, there shall be five members; from the county of Bernalillo two members; from the county of Santa Ana two members; from the county of Santa Fe three members; from the county of San Miguel del Bado three members; from the county of Rio Arriva three members; from the county of Taos three members. In the Senate, from the Southern district, composed of the counties of Valencia and Bernalillo, there shall be two members; from the Central district, composed of the counties of San Miguel del Bado, Santa Fe and Santa Ana, there shall be three members; from the Northern district, composed of the counties of Taos and Rio Arriva, there shall be two members.

18. The members of either of the two Houses of the Legislature shall be free from arrest except for breach of the peace, or felony, during the time the same shall be in session, and during the ten days next preceding and after such session.

19. In the first election to fill offices under this Constitution, any person who is a Citizen of the United States, or any person who is qualified to vote under the same, shall be eligible to such offices, anything in this Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding.

20. The Seat of Government for this State shall be at Santa Fe, until it shall be permanently located by the Legislature.

21. The Legislature shall declare by law, what parts of the Common and what parts of the Civil Law, not inconsistent with the Constitution, shall be in force in this State.

22. It shall be the duty of the Legislature to provide for the organization of cities and corporated villages, and to limit the power of taxation, assessment, borrowing money, and contracting debts by such municipal corporations.



Sec. 1. That no inconvenience may arise in the change from a Territorial to a State Government, it is declared that all writs, actions, prosecutions, contracts, claims and rights, shall continue as if no change had taken place in the Government; and all processes which may, before the organization of the judicial Department under this Constitution, be issued under the Territory of New Mexico, shall be valid as if issued in the name of the State.

2. All fines, penalties and forfeitures, accruing to the Territory of New Mexico, shall accrue to the use of the State.

3. Recognizances heretofore taken, or which may hereafter be taken, and before the organization of the Judicial Department under this Constitution, shall remain valid, and shall pass to, and be prosecuted in the name of the State; and all bonds executed to the Territory, or to any officer in his official capacity shall be passed over to the Governor, or the proper State Officer, or to their successors in office, for the uses therein respectively expressed, and be sued for and recovered accordingly. All estates or property, real, personal, or mixed, all judgments, bonds, specialities, choses in action, and debts or claims of whatsoever description, of the Territory of New Mexico, shall accrue to, and be vested in the State of New Mexico, and may be sued for, and recovered in the same manner and to the same extent, by the State of New Mexico, as the same could have been done by the Territory of New Mexico.

4. All criminal prosecutions and penal action which may have arisen, or which may arise, before the change from a Territorial to a State Government, and which shall then be pending, shall be prosecuted to judgment and execution in the name of the State.

5. All offenses committed against the laws of the Territory of New Mexico, before the change from Territorial to a State Government, and which shall not have been prosecuted before such change, may be prosecuted in the name of the State of New Mexico, with like effect as though such change had not taken place, and all penalties incurred shall remain the same as if this Constitution had not been adopted.

6. All laws heretofore in force in the Territory of New Mexico, shall be and remain in force until otherwise provided by law. All actions at Law, and suits in equity, which may be pending in any of the Courts in the Territory of New Mexico at the time of the change from a Territorial to a State Government, may be continued and transferred to any Court of the State which shall have jurisdiction of the subject matter thereof.

7. All Civil Officers now holding their office under the United States, or the Territory of New Mexico, shall continue to hold and exercise their respective offices until they shall be superceded under this Constitution of the State of New Mexico.

8. The Governor of the State shall make use of his private Seal until a State Seal shall be provided.

9. The first Session of the Legislature of the State of New Mexico, shall be held at the City of Santa Fe, and shall commence on the first day of July, 1850.

10. The Military and Civil Governor of the Territory shall be requested, immediately on the adjournment of this Convention, to issue writs of Election to the Prefects of the several counties, requiring them to cause an election to be held on the twentieth day of July, 1850; the electors to vote for or against this Constitution; for a Governor and Lieut.-Governor, a Representative in the Congress of the United States, Senators and Representatives to the Legislature; and the returns of such election shall be made to the Prefects, who, together with the Prefect's Clerks, shall count the votes given, and Certificates of Election shall be given by them to such persons as shall have received the highest number of votes for members of the Legislature. The Prefects of the several counties shall correct returns, under their hands, of all the votes given in their respective counties, for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and Representative to Congress, and votes for and against this Constitution, to the present Secretary of the Territory at Santa Fe, who, when the Legislature shall convene, shall lay such returns before them on the first day of their session, so soon as both Houses shall be organized, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President, pro tempore, of the Senate, shall, in the presence of both Houses, examine the returns, and declare who are elected to fill those offices, and the votes for and against this Constitution. If any two or more persons shall have an equal and higher number of votes than any other person or persons, the Legislature shall determine the election in the manner hereinafter provided.

10. The returns of the electors, for or against this Constitution, shall be certified to by the Governor elect, or the Lieutenant Governor acting as such, who shall despatch the same to the Secretary of State of the United States, within thirty days from the day of election. In all other respects the election shall be conducted according to the existing Laws of this Territory.

11. It shall be, and is hereby made, the duty of the Governor, or Lieut.-Governor acting as such, if it appears from the return of the votes for and against this Constitution that it has been adopted by the people, he shall immediately cause a fair copy of the same, together with a fair digest of the votes given for and against the Constitution, to be forwarded to the President of the United States, to be laid before the Congress of the United States.

12. The oaths of office herein before directed to be taken, may be administered by any judge or any Alcalde, until the Legislature shall otherwise direct.


Done by the Delegates of the people of New Mexico, in Convention assembled, at Santa Fe, this 25th day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty, and of the Independence of the United States the seventy‑fourth.

James H. Quinn, President.

Jose Maria Martinez,

George Gold,

Jose Antonio Mansanares,

Jose Pablo Gallegos,

Thomas s. J. Johnson,

Ceran St. Vrain,

Francisco Ortiz Y Delgado,

Joab Houghton,

Levi J. Keithly,

Jose Manuel Gallegos,

Juan Perea,

Murray F. Tuley,

Charles Overman,

Antonio Jose Otero,

Jose Antonio Baca Y Pino,

Ramon Luna.

Robert Cary y Donaciano Vigil, Secretaries.



We, the Delegates of the people of New Mexico, in Convention assembled, have now the honor to submit, for the consideration of the people, that Constitution which appears to us best for the moral, social and political welfare, and wellbeing of the country.

The friends of New Mexico have long desired, and ardently sought, a stable, uniform, equal and just system of laws, and administration of Justice; and the means we have taken to effect these objects are, in our opinion, the most judicious that the present condition and circumstances of the country admits of adopting.

Slavery in New Mexico is naturally impracticable, and can never, in reality, exist here;-wherever it has existed it has proved a curse and a blight to the State upon which it has been inflicted,-a moral, social and political evil. The only manner in which this question now effects us is politically; and on grounds of this character, with its general evil tendencies, we have unanimously agreed to reject it-if forever.

In all our councils, on this and every other subject, we have steadily endeavored to keep in view the real interests of New Mexico, in which are deeply involved our present sovereign and independent existence as a State, our future prosperity, and public and domestic felicity. These high considerations, profoundly impressed on our minds, induced each member of the Convention to be less adhesive to his own views of minor points than might have been otherwise anticipated; and hence this Constitution is the offspring of a cordial amity, and of that mutual deference and happy spirit of concession which the peculiarities of our situation rendered indispensable.

That it will meet the full approbation of every Citizen is scarcely to be looked for; but that it is liable to as few objections as could reasonably have been expected, we hope and believe. That it may prove a lasting benefit to the people, and secure their freedom and tranquility, is our most ardent prayer.



James H. Quinn, President,


Francisco Ortiz Y Delgado,

T. S. J. Johnson,

Jose Manuel Gallegos,

Ceran St. Vrain,

Jose Maria Martinez,

Jose Antonio Mansanares,

Levi J. Keithly,

Jose Antonio Baca Y Pino,

Murray F. Tuley,

Joab Houghton,

Charles Overman,

Antonio Jose Otero,

George Gold,

Jose Pablo Gallegos,

Juan Perea,

Ramon Luna.


Robert Cary y Donaciano Vigil, Secretaries.

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