The Constitution of 1819 was amended three times. Following is the text of these amendments, along with notes on ratification of each. The mode of amending the Constitution of 1819 was a three-step process: 1) passage of legislation by the General Assembly, placing a proposed amendment before the people; 2) majority vote by the people in the general election held each year in August; 3) final ratification by a two-thirds vote of the elected members of each house of the session of the General Assembly held subsequent to a favorable vote of the people.
The Judges of the several courts of this State shall hold their offices for the term of six years; and for wilful neglect of duty, or other reasonable cause, which shall not be sufficient ground for impeachment, the Governor shall remove any of them on the address of two-thirds of each house of the General Assembly: Provided, however , That the cause or causes for which such removal shall be required, shall be stated at length in such address, and entered on the Journals of each house: And provided, further , That the cause or causes shall be notified to the Judge so intended to be removed, and he shall be admitted to a hearing in his own defence, before any vote for such address shall pass; and in all such cases the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays, and entered on the Journals of each house respectively: And provided, also , That the judges now in office may hold their offices until the session of the General Assembly which shall be held in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-three, and until their successors shall be elected and qualified, unless removed by address or impeachment.
Ratification Notes: Joint Resolution approved, January 26, 1829, submitting the proposed amendment to the people. In the August general election, the electorate approved the amendment by a vote of 23,199 for, and 6, 925 against. Final ratification was granted by the General Assembly, January 16, 1830.
(a) Strike out the words "one year" where they occur in the second section of the third article, and insert in lieu thereof "two years". Strike out the words "every year" where they occur in the third section of third article, and insert in lieu thereof "at each session". Strike out the word "annual" where it occurs in the eighth section of the fourth article, and insert in lieu thereof "biennial". Strike out the thirteenth section of the third article, and insert in lieu thereof the following: "at the first meeting of the General Assembly after the adoption of the proposed amendments, the senators when convened shall be divided 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 two next ensuing years; so that one half may be biennially chosen thereafter, and a rotation thereby kept up perpetually."
(b) Strike out the twenty-ninth section of the third article, which permanently locates the seat of government in this State.
Ratification Notes: The history of the ratification of this amendment is unique in Alabama history. On January 24, 1845, the General Assembly voted to submit the amendment to the people, but allowing them to vote on each of its two provisions. In the August general election, the electorate approved the biennial session section by a vote of 55,819 for, and 5,167 against. The vote on the section, effectively allowing the General Assembly the power to move the permanent Capital, was 33,798 for, and 27,320 against. In the ensuing session of the General Assembly, both sections were taken up as one measure, and on January 9, 1846, the dual-purpose amendment was given final ratification by a vote in the House of Representatives of 68-32, and in the Senate, 22-11. On January 28, 1846, the General Assembly, in joint session, began balloting on the issue of a permanent seat of government. On the 16th ballot, Montgomery was selected as the State Capital. On February 4, 1846, the Assembly passed enabling legislation, establishing the first Monday in December, 1847, as the date for the convening of the next session of the General Assembly, to be held in Montgomery.
Strike out the ninth section of the third article of the Constitution, and in lieu thereof insert the following: "Section 9. The General Assembly shall cause an enumeration to be made in the year eighteen hundred and fifty, and eighteen hundred and fifty-five, and every ten years thereafter, of all the white inhabitants of this State; and the whole number of representatives shall at the first regular session after such enumeration, be apportioned among the several counties, cities, or towns entitled to separate representation, according to their respective number of white inhabitants, and the said apportionment when made shall not be subject to alteration until after the next census shall be taken. The number of representatives shall not exceed one hundred, and the number of senators shall not exceed thirty-three; yet each county, nothwithstanding it may not have a number of white inhabitants equal to the ratio fixed, shall have one representative."
Strike out the thirteenth section of the third article of the Constitution, and insert in lieu thereof the following: "Section 13. Senators shall be chosen for the term of four years: yet at the general election after every new apportionment, elections shall be held anew in every senatorial district; and the senators elected, when convened at the first session, shall be divided by lot into two classes, as nearly equal as may be: the seats of those of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of two years, and those of the second class at the expiration of four years, dating in both cases from the day of election, so that one-half may be biennially chosen, except as above provided."
At the end of the twelfth section of the fifth article of the Constitution add: "But at and after the session of the General Assembly to be held in the winter of the years eighteen hundred and forty-nine-fifty, the General Assembly shall provide by law for the election of judges of the Circuit Courts by the qualified electors of their circuits respectively, and for the elections of judges of the Courts of Probate and other inferior courts (not including chancellors) by the qualified electors of the counties, cities, or districts for which such courts may be respectively established; the first Monday in November in any year shall be the day for any election of such judges by the people, or such other day, not to be within a less period than two months of the general election for Governor, members of the General Assembly, or members of Congress, as the General Assembly may by law prescribe: but no change to be made in any circuit or district, or in the mode or time of electing, shall affect the right of any judge to hold office during the term prescribed by the Constitution, except at the first elections thereof to be made by the people after the ratification of these amendments or either of them, which elections shall then all be had on the same day throughout the State, and the terms of the judges then to be elected shall commence on that day: vacancies in the office of judge shall be filled by the Governor, and the persons appointed thereto by him shall hold until the next first Monday in November, or other election day of judges, and until the election and qualification of their successors respectively; and the General Assembly shall have power to annex to the offices of any of the judges of the inferior courts the duties of clerks of such courts respectively."
Ratification Notes: On March 6, 1848, the General Assembly passed legislation, submitting to the people, a proposed amendment which would establish new apportionment dates, and fixing the terms of State Senators at four years. On the same date, two other proposed amendments were passed for submission, each allowing for the popular election of county and circuit judges. In the August, 1849, general elections, the electorate approved all three measures: The vote on the proposal, revising the schedule of apportionment, establishing four-year terms for State Senators, was approved, 43,781 for, and 17,545 against. The vote on the popular election of county judges was 52,230 for, and 11,370 against. The vote on the popular election of circuit judges was 46,163 for, and 17,311 against. On January 29, 1850, the General Assembly gave final ratification to all three as one amendment. In May, 1850, the first popular election of county and circuit judges was held.
* Please note that the use of alphabetical designations in Amendments #2 and #3 are not a part of the official text of these amendments, but rather are included here for the convenience of the reader.