Enabling Act (Louisiana)
An ActTo enable the people of the Territory of Orleans, to form a constitution and state government, and for the admission of such state into the Union, on an equal footing with the original states, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the inhabitants of all that part of the territory or country ceded under the name of Louisiana, by the treaty made at Paris on the thirtieth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and three, between the United States and France, contained within the following limits, that is to say : Beginning at the mouth of the river Sabine; thence by a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river, including all islands, to the thirty-second degree of latitude ; thence due north to the northernmost part of the thirty-third degree of north latitude ; thence along the said parallel of latitude to the river Mississippi ; thence down the said river to the river Iberville ; and from thence, along the middle of the. said river and Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain, to the Gulf of Mexico ; thence bounded by the said gulf to the place of beginning, including all islands with in three leagues of the coast, be, and they are hereby, authorized to form for themselves a constitution and state government, and to assume such name as they may deem proper, under the provisions and upon the conditions . hereinafter mentioned.
And be it further enacted, That all free white male citizens of the United States, who shall have arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and resided within the said territory at least one year previous to the day of election, and shall have paid a territorial, county, or district, or parish tax, and all persons having in other respects the legal qualifications to vote for representatives in the general assembly of the said territory, be, and they are hereby, authorized to choose representatives to form a convention, who shall be apportioned amongst the several counties, districts, and parishes in the said territory Of Orleans in such manner as the legislature of the said territory shall by law direct. The number of representatives shall not exceed sixty, and the elections for the representatives aforesaid shall take place on the third Monday in September next, and shall be conducted in the same manner as is now provided by the laws of the said territory for electing members for the house of representatives.
And be it further enacted, That the members of the convention, when duly elected, be, and they are hereby, authorized to meet at the city of New Orleans, on the first Monday of November next, which convention, when met, shall first determine, by a majority of the whole number elected, whether it be expedient or not, at that time, to form a constitution and state government for the people within the said territory, and if it be determined to be expedient, then the convention shall in like manner declare, in behalf of the people of the said territory, that it adopts the constitution of the United States ; whereupon the said convention shall be, and hereby is, authorized to form a constitution and state government for the people of the said territory: Provided, The constitution to be formed, in virtue of the authority herein given, shall be republican, and consistent with the constitution of the United States ; that it shall contain the fundamental principles of civil and religious liberty ; that it shall secure to the citizen the trial by jury in all criminal cases, and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, conformable to the pro- visions of the constitution of the United States ; and that after the admission of the said territory of Orleans as a state into the Union, the laws which such state may pass shall be promulgated and its records of every description shall be preserved, and its judicial and legislative written proceedings conducted in the language in which the laws and the judicial and legislative written proceedings of the United States are now published and conducted : And provided also, That the said convention shall provide by an ordinance, irrevocable without the consent of the United States, that the people inhabiting the said territory do agree and declare that they forever disclaim all right or title to the waste or unappropriated lands lying within the said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States, and moreover that each and every tract of land sold by Congress shall be and remain exempt from any tax laid by the order or under the authority of the state, whether for state, county, township, parish, or any other purpose whatever, for the term of five years from and after the respective days of the sales thereof, and that the lands belonging to citizens of the United States residing without the said state shall never be taxed higher than the lands belonging to persons residing therein, and that no taxes shall be imposed on lands the property of the United States, and that the river Mississippi and the navigable rivers and waters leading into the same or into the Gulf of Mexico shall be common highways and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said state as to other citizens of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor imposed by the said state.
And be it further enacted, That in case the convention shall declare its assent in behalf of the people of the said territory to the adoption of the constitution of the United States, and shall form a constitution and state government for the people of the said territory of Orleans, the said convention, as soon thereafter as may be, is hereby required to cause to be trans :sumitted to Congress the instrument by which its assent. to the constitution of the United States is thus given and declared, and also a true and attested copy of such constitution or frame of state government as shall be formed and provided by said convention, and if the same shall not be disapproved by Congress, at their next session after the receipt thereof, the said state shall be admitted into the Union upon the same footing with the original states.
And be it further enacted, That five per centum of the net proceeds of the sales of the lands of the United States, after the first day of January, shall be applied to laying out and constructing public roads and levees in the said state, as the legislature thereof may direct.
Approved, February 20, 1811.