Constitution of Tennessee

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The Constitution of the State of Tennessee defines the form, structure, activities, character, and basic rules of the U.S. State of Tennessee. It also contains how to change them.

History[change | change source]

The first constitution of Tennessee came into effect on June 1, 1796, concurrent with the state's admission to the Union. A second version of the constitution was adopted in 1835. A third constitution was adopted in 1870 and is the one still in use today, with new amendments.

On November 15, 1869 the Tennessee General Assembly called for an election to be held in December 1869 for two reasons. They are to determine if a constitutional convention should be called to amend or replace the 1835 constitution and to elect delegates to that convention if the voters determined that it was to be held. The voters decided for the convention, which began on January 10, 1870. The convention was finished on February 23, 1870, after adopting the constitution and recommending its approval by the voters in a special election It was conducted on March 26, 1870.

Background[change | change source]

The document was mainly written as a response to the requirement for all ex-Confederate to adopt new constitutions clearly banning slavery. It contains many provisions that are holdovers from the two previous documents. It is much longer than the federal constitution but is not particularly long by the standards of state constitutions. This 1870 document stood unamended until 1953, which, according to the Tennessee Blue Book, was the longest period that any such document had remained in effect without amendment anywhere in the world.

Other websites[change | change source]