Florida Constitutional Convention (1865)
Florida Constitution (1865) is the product of the Florida State Archives and its
"Florida Memory Project". It is provided, here, as a courtesy of the Florida State
Archives. This particular constitution is one of several compiled as "Florida's
Early Constitutions". The Florida State Archives is a unit of the Bureau of
Archives & Records Management in the Division of Library & Information
Services, Florida Department of State.
or FORM OF GOVERNMENT,
for the PEOPLE OF FLORIDA
We, the People of the State of Florida, by our delegates in
Convention assembled, in the city of Tallahassee, on the 25th day
of October, in the year of our Lord 1865, and of the Independence
of the United States the 90th year, in order to secure to ourselves
and our posterity the enjoyment of all the rights of life, liberty and
property, and the pursuit of happiness, do mutually agree, each
with the other, to form the following Constitution and form of
Government in and for the said State.
Declaration of Rights
That the great and essential principles of liberty and free
government may be recognized and established, we declare:
That all freemen when they form a government, have certain
inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying
and defending life and liberty; of acquiring, possessing and
protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own
That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free
governments are founded on their authority, and established for
their benefit; and therefore they have at all times an inalienable and
indefeasible right to alter or abolish their form of government in
such manner as they may deem expedient.
That all men have a natural and inalienable right to worship
Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience,
and that no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious
establishment or mode of worship in this State.
That no property qualification for eligibility to office, or for the right
of suffrage, shall ever be required in this State.
That every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his
sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that
liberty; and no law shall be passed to curtail, abridge or restrain the
liberty of speech or of the press.
That the right of trial by jury shall forever remain inviolate.
That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers
and possessions, from unreasonable seizures and searches; and
that no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing,
shall issue without describing the place to be searched, and the
person or thing to be seized, as nearly as may be, nor without
probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.
That no freeman shall be taken, 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 law of the land.
That courts shall be open, and every person, 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.
That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath a right to be
heard by himself or counsel, or both; to demand the nature and
cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses
against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in
his favor; and in all prosecutions by indictment or presentment, a
speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county or district
where the offense was committed; and shall not be compelled to
give evidence against himself.
That all persons shall be bailable by sufficient securities, unless in
capital offenses, where the proof is evident, or the presumption is
strong; and the habeas corpus act shall not be suspended unless,
when in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require
That excessive bail shall in no case be required; nor shall
excessive fines be imposed; nor shall cruel or unusual punishments
That no person shall, for the same offense, be twice put in jeopardy
of life and limb.
That private property shall not be taken or applied to public use,
unless just compensation be first made therefore.
That in all prosecutions and indictments for libel, the truth may be
given in evidence; and if it shall appear to the jury that the libel is
true, and published with good motives, and for justifiable ends, the
truth shall be a justification; and the jury shall be the judges of the
law and facts.
That no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge, but by
presentment, indictment or impeachment, except in such cases as
the Legislature shall otherwise provide: but the Legislature shall
pass no law whereby any person shall be required to answer any
criminal charge involving the life of the accused, except upon
indictment or presentment by a Grand Jury.
That no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of
That retrospective laws punishing acts committed before the
existence of such laws, and by them only declared penal or
criminal, are oppressive, unjust and incompatible with liberty;
wherefore no ex post facto law shall ever be made.
That no law impairing the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
That the people shall have a right, in a peaceable manner, to
assemble together to consult for the common good; and to apply to
those invested with the powers of government for redress of
grievances, or other proper purposes, by petition, address or
That no soldier in time of peace shall be quartered in any house
without the consent of the owner; nor in time of war but in a manner
prescribed by law.
That no standing army shall be kept up without the consent of the
Legislature; and the military shall be in strict subordination to the
That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a
free people, and ought not to be allowed.
That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors, shall be
granted or conferred in this State.
That a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely
necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.
That, to guard against transgressions upon the rights of the people,
we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the
general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate;
and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be
Distribution of the Powers of Government.
The powers of the government of the State of Florida shall be
divided into three distinct departments, and each of them confided
to a separate body of Magistracy, to-wit: those which are
Legislative to one, those which are Executive to another, and those
which are Judicial to another.
No person or collection of persons, being one of these
departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either
of the others, except in the instance expressly provided in this
The Supreme Executive power shall be vested in a Chief
Magistrate, who shall be styled the Governor of the State of Florida.
The Governor shall be elected for four years, by the qualified
electors, at the time and place they shall vote for representatives,
and shall remain in office until a successor shall be chosen and
No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor unless he shall
have attained the age of thirty years, shall have been a citizen of
the United States ten years, and shall have been a resident of
Florida at least five years next preceding his election.
There shall be elected at the same time, for the same term and with
like qualifications as the Governor, a Lieutenant Governor, who
shall be ex-officio President of the Senate, but shall have no vote
except in cases of a tie, and during the session of the General
Assembly, he shall receive such compensation as shall be allowed
to a Senator.
The returns of every election for Governor and Lieutenant Governor
shall be sealed up and transmitted to the seat of government,
directed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall,
during the first week of the session next after their election, open
and publish them in the presence of both Houses of the General
Assembly; and the persons having the highest number of votes for
the respective offices, shall be Governor and Lieutenant Governor;
but if two or more shall be equal and highest in votes for the office
of Governor, one of them shall be chosen Governor by the joint
vote of the two Houses and in like manner, if two or more shall be
equal and highest in votes for the office of Lieutenant Governor,
one of them shall be chosen Lieutenant Governor, by the joint vote
of the two Houses. And contested elections for Governor and
Lieutenant Governor shall be determined by both Houses of the
General Assembly, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
The Governor shall at stated times receive a compensation for his
services, which shall not be increased or diminished during the
term for which he shall have been elected; but such compensation
shall never be less than three thousand dollars per annum.
He shall be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of this
State, and of the Militia thereof.
He may require information in writing from the officers of the
Executive Department, on any subject relating to the duties of their
He may by proclamation, on extraordinary occasions, convene the
General Assembly at the Seat of Government, or at a different
place, if that shall have become dangerous from an enemy or from
disease; and in case of disagreement between the two Houses,
with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to
such time as he may think proper, not beyond the day of the next
meeting designated by the Constitution.
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 may deem expedient.
He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
In all criminal and penal cases, (except of impeachment) after
conviction, he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons,
and remit fines and forfeitures, under such rules and regulations as
shall be prescribed by law.
The State Seal last heretofore used, (until altered by the General
Assembly,) shall continue to be the Great Seal of the State, and
shall be kept by the Governor for the time being, and used by him
All commissions shall be in the name and by the authority of the
State of Florida, be sealed with the State Seal, and signed by the
Governor and attested by the Secretary of State.
There shall be a Secretary of State elected by the qualified electors
of the State at the same time, and who shall continue in office for
the same term of years as the Governor of the State; and he shall
keep a fair register of 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 may be required
of him by law.
Vacancies that happen in offices, the appointment to which is
vested in the General Assembly, or given to the Governor, with the
advice and consent of the Senate, shall be filled by the Governor
during the recess of the General Assembly, by granting
commissions which shall expire at the end of the next session.
Every bill which shall have passed both Houses of the General
Assembly, shall be presented to the Governor; if he approve, he
shall sign it; but if 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 journals, and proceed to reconsider it;
and if, after such reconsideration, two-thirds of the whole number
voting shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent with the objections
to the other House, by which it shall be reconsidered; and if
approved by two-thirds of the whole number voting, it shall become
a law: but in such cases the votes of both Houses shall be by yeas
and nays, and the names of the members voting for or against the
bill shall be entered on the journals of each House respectively; and
if any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within five days
(Sundays excepted,) after it shall have been presented to him, the
same shall be a law in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the
General Assembly by their adjournment prevent its return, in which
case it shall not be law.
Every order, resolution or vote to which the concurrence of both
Houses 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, be re-passed by both
Houses, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in case of
In case of the impeachment of the Governor, his removal from
office, death, refusal to qualify, resignation, or absence from the
State, the Lieutenant Governor shall exercise all the power and
authority appertaining to the office of Governor until the Governor
absent, or impeached, shall return, or be acquitted, or until the
Governor next regularly elected shall be duly qualified, as the case
may be; and for the time the Lieutenant Governor shall occupy the
office of Governor, he shall receive the same compensation as
shall be allowed by law to the regularly elected Governor.
In case of the impeachment of both the Governor and the
Lieutenant Governor, their removal from office, death, refusal to
qualify, resignation, or absence from the State, the Speaker of the
House of Representatives shall in like manner administer the
Government, unless the General Assembly shall otherwise provide;
and for the time he shall occupy the office of Governor, he shall
receive the same compensation as shall be allowed by law to the
It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to provide for the
purchase or erection of a suitable building for the residence of the
Governor, and the Governor shall reside at the seat of government;
but whenever, by reason of danger from an enemy, or from
disease, the Governor may deem the capital unsafe, he may, by
proclamation, fix the seat of government at some secure place
within the State, until such danger shall cease.
No person shall hold the office of Governor and any other office or
commission, civil or military, either in this State, or under any State,
or the United States, or any other power, at one and the same time,
except the Lieutenant Governor or the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, when he shall hold the office as aforesaid.
A State Treasurer and Comptroller of Public Accounts shall be
elected by the qualified electors of the State at the same time, and
who shall continue in office for the same term of years as the
Governor of the State, and until their successors shall have been
duly commissioned and qualified.
The Legislative power of this State shall be vested in two distinct
branches, the one to be styled the Senate, the other the House of
Representatives, and both together "The General Assembly of the
State of Florida," and the style of the laws shall be, "Be it enacted
by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Florida
in General Assembly convened..
The members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by
the qualified voters, and shall serve for the term of two years from
the day of the general election, and no longer: and the sessions of
the General Assembly shall be annual, and commence on the
second Wednesday in November in each year.
The Representatives shall be chosen every two years on the first
Monday in the month of October, until otherwise directed by law.
No person shall be a Representative unless he be a white man, a
citizen of the United States, and shall have been an inhabitant of
the State two years next preceding his election, and the last year
thereof a resident of the County for which he shall be chosen, and
shall have attained the age of twenty-one years.
The Senators shall be chosen by the qualified electors for the term
of two years, at the same time, in the same manner, and at the
same places where they vote for members of the House of
Representatives; and no man shall be a Senator unless he be a
white man, 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 or County for which he
shall be chosen, and shall have attained the age of twenty-five
The House of Representatives, when assembled, shall choose a
Speaker and its other officers, and the Senate, its other officers,
and in the absence of the Lieutenant Governor, a President pro
tempore, and each House shall be judge of the qualifications,
elections, and returns of its members; but a contested election shall
be determined in such manner as shall be directed by law.
A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business,
but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may
compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner and
under such penalties as each House may prescribe.
Each House may determine the rules of its own proceedings,
punish its members for disorderly behavior, and with the consent of
two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for the same
Each House, during the session, may punish, by imprisonment, any
person not a member, for disrespectful or disorderly behavior in its
presence, or for obstructing any of its proceedings, provided, such
imprisonment shall not extend beyond the end of the session.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its proceedings, and cause the
same to be published immediately after its adjournment; and the
yeas and nays of the members of each House shall be taken and
entered upon the Journals upon the final passage of every bill, and
may, by any two members, be required upon any other question;
and any member of either House shall have liberty to dissent from,
or protest against, any act or resolution which he may think
injurious to the public, or an individual, and have the reasons of his
dissent entered on the journal.
Senators and Representatives shall in all cases, except of treason,
felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during the
session of the General Assembly, and in going to, or returning from
the same, allowing one day for every twenty miles such member
may reside from the place at which the General Assembly is
convened, and for any speech or debate in either House they shall
not be questioned in any other place.
The General Assembly shall make provision by law, for filling
vacancies that may occur in either House by the death, resignation,
(or otherwise) of any of its members.
The doors of each House shall be open when in legislative session,
except on such occasions as, in the opinion of the House, the
public safety may imperiously require secrecy.
Neither House shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for
more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which they
may be sitting.
Bills may originate in either House of the General Assembly; and all
bills passed by one House may be discussed, amended or rejected
by the other; but no bill shall have the force of law, until on three
several days it be read in each House and free discussion be
allowed thereon, unless in cases of urgency, four-fifths of the
House in which the same shall be depending, may deem it
expedient to dispense with the rule; and every bill having passed
both Houses, shall be signed by the Speaker and President of their
Each member of the General Assembly shall receive from the
public Treasury such compensation for his services as may be fixed
by law; but no increase of compensation shall take effect during the
term for which the Representatives were elected, when such law
The sessions of the General Assembly shall not extend in duration
over thirty days, unless it be deemed expedient by a concurrent
majority of two-thirds of the members of each House; and no
member shall receive pay from the State for his services after the
expiration of sixty days continuously from the commencement of
The General Assembly shall by law authorize the Circuit Court to
grant licenses for building Toll-Bridges, and to establish Ferries,
and to regulate the tolls of both; to construct dams across streams
not navigable; to ascertain and declare what streams are navigable;
but no special law for such purpose shall be made.
The General Assembly shall pass a general law prescribing the
manner in which names of persons may be changed, but no special
law for such purpose shall be passed; and no law shall be made
allowing minors to contract, or manage their estates.
The General Assembly shall pass a general law for the
incorporation of Towns, Religious, Literary, Scientific, Benevolent,
Military and other Associations, not Commercial, Industrial or
Financial; but no special act incorporating any such association
shall be passed.
No act incorporating any Railroad, Banking, Insurance, Commercial
or Financial corporation shall be introduced into the General
Assembly, unless the person or persons applying for such
corporation shall have deposited with the Treasurer the sum of one
hundred dollars as a bonus to the State.
Officers shall be removed from office for incapacity, misconduct or
neglect of duty, in such manner as may be provided by law, when
no mode of trial or removal is provided in this Constitution.
The Judicial power of this State, both as to matters of law and
equity, shall be vested in a Supreme Court, Courts of Chancery,
Circuit Courts, and Justices of the Peace, provided the General
Assembly may also vest such civil or criminal jurisdiction as may be
necessary in Corporation Courts, and such other courts as the
General Assembly may establish; but such jurisdiction shall not
extend to capital cases.
The Supreme Court, except in cases otherwise directed in this
Constitution, shall have appellate jurisdiction only, which shall be
co-extensive with the State, under such restrictions and regulations,
not repugnant to this Constitution, as may from time to time be
prescribed by law, provided that the said court shall always have
power to issue writs of injunction, mandamus, quo warrant,
habeas corpus, and such other original and remedial writs as may
be necessary to give it a general superintendence and control of all
The Supreme Court shall be holden at such times and places as
may be prescribed by law; and two Judges of the Circuit Court may
be added to the Supreme Court, when in session, at the discretion
of the Legislature; and the court so composed shall constitute the
Supreme Court of the State, when the Legislature shall so direct.
The State shall be divided into convenient Circuits; and for each
Circuit there shall be a Judge, who shall, after his election or
appointment, reside in the Circuit for which he has been elected or
appointed; and shall, as well as Justices of the Supreme Court,
receive for his services a salary of not less than twenty-five
hundred dollars per annum, which shall not be diminished during
his continuance in office; but the Judges shall receive no fees,
perquisites of office, nor hold any other office of profit under the
State, the United States, or any other power.
The Circuit Courts shall have original jurisdiction in all matters, civil
and criminal, not otherwise excepted in this Constitution.
A Circuit Court shall be held in such counties and at such times and
places therein, as may be prescribed by law; and the Judges of the
several Circuit Courts may hold courts for each other, either for the
entire Circuit or for a portion thereof, and they shall do so when
required, by order of the Governor or Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court; and they may exercise jurisdiction in cases of writs of
habeas corpus in any Judicial Circuit in which the Judge may
happen to be at the time the case arises.
The General Assembly shall have power to establish and organize
a separate court or courts of original equity jurisdiction; but until
such court or courts shall be established and organized, the Circuit
Courts shall exercise such jurisdiction.
There shall be elected in each county of this State, by the qualified
voters, an officer to be styled the Judge of Probate, to take probate
of wills, to grant letters testamentary, of administration and
guardianship, to attend to the settlement of the estates of
decedents and minors, and to discharge the duties usually
appertaining to Courts of Ordinary, and such other duties as may
be required by law; subject to the direction and supervision of the
Circuit Courts, as may be provided by law.
A competent number of Justices of the Peace shall be from time to
time elected in and for each county, in such mode and for such
term of office as the General Assembly may direct, and shall
possess such jurisdiction as may be prescribed by law; and in
cases tried before a Justice of the Peace, the right of appeal shall
be secured under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed
There shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate, a Chief Justice and two associate
Justices of the Supreme Court of this State, who shall reside in this
State, and hold their office for the term of six years from their
appointment and confirmation, unless sooner removed under the
provisions of this Constitution, for the removal of Judges by
address or impeachment: and for willful 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 the General Assembly: Provided, however,
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
defense, before any vote for such removal shall pass, and in such
case, the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays, and entered on the
journal of each House respectively, and in case of the appointment
to fill a vacancy in said offices, the person so appointed shall only
hold the office for the unexpired term of his predecessor.
There shall be elected, at the time and places prescribed by law, by
the qualified electors of each of the respective Judicial Circuits of
this State, one Judge of the Circuit Court, who shall reside in the
Circuit for which he may be elected, and the said Circuit Judges
shall continue in office for the term of six years from the date of
their respective elections, unless sooner removed, under the
provisions in this Constitution for the removal of Judges by address
or impeachment; and for willful neglect of duty, or other reasonable
cause, which shall not be sufficient for impeachment, the Governor
shall remove any of them, on the address of two-thirds of the
General Assembly: Provided, however, that the cause or causes
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 such Judge so intended to be removed,
and he shall be admitted to a hearing in his own defense before
any vote or votes for such removal shall pass; and in such cases
the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays and entered on the
journals of each House respectively.
The appointment of Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the
Supreme Court shall be made every sixth year after their first
appointment, and the election of Judges of the Circuit Court, and
Judges or Chancellors of the Chancery Court, when established,
shall be held in every sixth year after their first elections, at the
same time and places as the elections for members of the General
That whenever the General Assembly shall create a Chancery
Court, under the provisions of this Constitution, the Judges thereof
shall be elected in the manner provided in the last two sections of
this article, and shall hold their offices and be subject to all the
provisions of said sections: Provided, however, that the said
Judges shall be elected by general ticket or by districts, as the
General Assembly may direct.
That should a vacancy occur either in the Chancery or Circuit
Courts, by death, removal, resignation or otherwise, it shall be the
duty of the Governor to issue a writ of election to fill such vacancy,
and he shall give at least sixty days notice thereof by proclamation:
and the Judge so elected to fill said vacancy shall continue in office
from the time he qualifies under his commission, until the expiration
of the term of his predecessor: Provided, however, that should it
become necessary to fill any such vacancy before an election can
be held under the provisions of this Constitution, the Governor shall
have power to fill such vacancy by appointment, and the person so
appointed shall hold his office from the date of his commission until
his successor shall be duly elected and qualified.
The Clerks of the Circuit Courts of the several Circuits of this State,
shall be elected by the qualified voters in their several counties at
such times and places as are now or may be provided by law:
Provided, however, that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and
the Chancellors of the Court of Chancery, when such courts shall
be established, shall have the power to appoint the Clerks of their
The Justices of the Supreme Court, Chancellors and Judges of the
Circuit Courts, shall, by virtue of their offices, be conservators of the
peace throughout the State.
The style of all process shall be "The State of Florida," and all
criminal prosecutions shall be carried on in the name of the State,
and all indictments shall conclude, "against the peace and dignity of
There shall be an Attorney General for the State, who shall reside
at the seat of government, and he shall perform such duties as may
be prescribed by law; he shall be elected by the qualified voters of
the State, at the same time and in the same manner that the
Comptroller, Secretary of State and Treasurer are elected, and his
term of office shall be the same; but he may be removed by the
Governor, on the address of a majority of the two Houses of the
General Assembly, and shall receive for his services a
compensation to be fixed by law.
There shall be one Solicitor for each Circuit, who shall reside
therein, to be elected by the qualified electors of the Circuit, who
shall hold his office for the term of four years, and shall receive for
his services a compensation to be fixed by law.
No Justice of the Supreme Court shall sit as a Judge, or take part in
the Appellate Court on the trial or hearing of any case which shall
have been decided by him in the Court below.
The General Assembly shall have power to establish in each
county a Board of Commissioners, for the regulation of the county
No duty not judicial shall be imposed by law upon the Justices of
the Supreme Court, Chancellors or the Judges of the Circuit Courts
of this State, except in cases otherwise provided for in this
The Right of Suffrage and Qualifications of Officers,
Civil Officers, and Impeachments, and Removals from Office.
Every free white male person of the age of twenty-one years and
upwards, and who shall be, at the time of offering to vote, a citizen
of the United States, and who shall have resided and had his
habitation, domicile, home, and place of permanent abode in
Florida, for one year next preceding the election at which he shall
offer to vote, and who shall, at such time, and for six months
immediately preceding said time, have had his habitation, domicile,
and place of permanent abode in the county in which he may offer
to vote, shall be deemed a qualified elector at all elections under
the Constitution, and none others; except in elections by general
ticket in the State or District prescribed by law, in which cases the
elector must have been a resident of the State one year next
preceding the election, and six months within the elective district in
which he offers to vote: Provided, that no officer, soldier, seaman or
marine, in the regular army or navy of the United States, or any
other person in the employ or pay of the United States, unless he
be a qualified elector of the State previous to his appointment or
enlistment as such officer, soldier, seaman or marine, in the regular
army or navy of the United States, or of the revenue service, shall
be considered a resident of the State in consequence of being
stationed within the same.
The General Assembly shall have power to exclude from every
office of honor, trust, or profit within the State, and from the right of
suffrage, all persons convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous
No person shall be capable of holding or being elected to any post
of honor, profit, trust or emolument, civil or military, legislative,
executive or judicial, under the government of this State, who shall
hereafter fight a duel, or send or accept a challenge to fight a duel,
the probable issue of which may be the death of the challenger or
challenged, or who shall be a second to either party, or who shall,
in any manner, aid or assist in such duel, or shall be knowingly the
bearer of such challenge or acceptance, whether the same occur or
be committed in or out of the State; but the legal disability shall not
accrue until after trial and conviction, according to due form of law.
No person who may hereafter be a collector or holder of public
monies shall have a seat in either House of the General Assembly,
or be eligible to any office of trust or profit under this State, until he
shall have accounted for and paid into the Treasury all sums for
which he may be accountable.
No Governor, member of Congress, or of the General Assembly of
this State, shall receive a fee, be engaged as counsel, agent or
attorney, in any civil case or claim against this State, or to which
this State shall be a party, during the time he shall remain in office.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the term for which he
shall have been elected, be appointed to any civil office of profit
under this State, which shall have been created, or the emoluments
of which shall have been increased, during such term, except such
offices as may be filled by elections by the people.
Members of the General Assembly, and all officers, civil or military,
before they enter upon the execution of their respective offices,
shall take the following oath or affirmation: "I do swear (or affirm)
that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State,
to exercise the office to which I have been elected (or appointed,)
and will, to the best of my abilities, discharge the duties thereof,
and preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this State and
of the United States of America..
Every person shall be disqualified from serving as Governor,
Senator, Representative, or from holding any other office of honor
or profit in this State, for the term for which he shall have been
elected, who shall have been convicted of having given or offered
any bribe to procure his election.
Laws shall be made by the General Assembly to exclude from
office, and from suffrage, those who shall have been, or may
hereafter be convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high
crime or misdemeanor; and the privilege of suffrage shall be
supported by laws regulating elections and prohibiting, under
adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon, from power,
bribery, tumult, or other improper practices.
All civil officers of the State at large shall reside within the State,
and all district or county officers within their respective districts or
counties, and shall keep their respective offices at such places
therein as may be required by law.
It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to regulate by law in
what cases and what deduction from the salaries of public officers
shall be made, for any neglect of duty in their official capacity.
Returns of elections for members of Congress and the General
Assembly shall be made to the Secretary of State, in manner to be
prescribed by law.
In all elections by the General Assembly the vote shall be viva
voce, and in all elections by the people the vote shall be by ballot.
No member of Congress or person holding or exercising any office
of profit under the United States, or under any foreign power, shall
be eligible as a member of the General Assembly of this State, or
hold or exercise any office of profit under the State; and no person
in this State shall ever hold two offices of profit at the same time,
except the office of Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, Constable,
and Militia offices, except by special act of the Legislature; but the
Legislature shall never unite in the same person two offices, the
duties of which are incompatible.
The General Assembly shall, by law, provide for the appointment or
election, and removal from office, of all officers, civil and military, in
this state, not provided for in this Constitution.
The power of impeachment shall be vested in the House of
All impeachments shall be tried by the Senate; when sitting for that
purpose the Senators shall be upon oath or affirmation; and no
person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of
the members present.
The Governor and all civil officers shall be liable to impeachment
for any misdemeanor in office, but judgment in such cases shall not
extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to
hold any office of honor, trust or profit under this State; but the
parties nevertheless shall be liable to indictment, trial and
punishment according to law.
All Militia officers shall be elected or appointed, under such rules
and regulations as the General Assembly may from time to time
direct and establish.
All offenses against the Militia laws shall be tried by Court Martial,
or before a court and jury, as the General Assembly may direct.
No commission shall be vacated except by sentence of a Court
Taxation and Revenue.
The General Assembly shall devise and adopt a system of revenue,
having regard to an equal and uniform mode of taxation, throughout
No other or greater amount of tax or revenue shall at any time be
levied, than may be required for the necessary expenses of the
No money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in consequence of
an appropriation by law, and a regular statement of the receipts and
expenditures of all public monies shall be published and
promulgated annually with the laws of the General Assembly.
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, and all property
shall be taxed upon the principles established in regard to State
The General Assembly shall have power to authorize the levying of
a capitation tax.
Census and Apportionment of Representation.
The General Assembly shall, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and sixty-seven, and in the year one thousand eight
hundred and seventy-five, and every tenth year thereafter, cause
an enumeration to be made of all the inhabitants of the State; and
to the whole number of white inhabitants shall be added three-fifths
of the number of colored people; and they shall then proceed to
apportion the representation equally among the different counties,
according to such enumeration, giving, however, one
representative to every county, and increasing the number of
representatives on a uniform ratio of population, according to the
foregoing basis, and which ratio shall not be changed until a new
census shall have been taken.
The General Assembly shall also, after every such enumeration,
proceed to fix by law the number of Senators which shall constitute
the Senate of the State of Florida, and which shall never be less
than one-fourth nor more than one-half of the whole number of the
House of Representatives; and they shall lay off the State into the
same number of Senatorial Districts, as nearly equal in the number
of inhabitants as may be, according to the ratio of representation
established in the preceding section, each of which districts shall be
entitled to one Senator.
When any Senatorial District shall be composed of two or more
counties, the counties of which such district consists shall not be
entirely separated by any county belonging to another district, and
no county shall be divided in forming a district.
No county now organized shall be divided into new counties, so as
to reduce the inhabitants of either below the ratio of representation.
The several counties of this State shall be entitled to the following
Representatives, viz: Escambia three, Santa Rosa two, Walton two,
Holmes one, Washington one, Calhoun one, Franklin one, Jackson
four, Gadsden three, Leon four, Wakulla one, Liberty one, Jefferson
three, Madison two, Hamilton two, Lafayette one, Taylor one,
Suwannee one, Columbia two, Baker one, Bradford one, Alachua
two, Nassau one, Duval two, Clay one, St. Johns one, Putnam one,
Marion two, Sumter one, Orange one, Volusia one, Brevard one,
Levy one, Hernando one, Hillsborough one, Manatee one, Monroe
one, Dade one, and Polk one. There shall be twenty-nine
Senatorial Districts in this State, which shall be as follows: The
county of Escambia shall compose the First district; the county of
Santa Rosa shall compose the Second District; the county of
Walton shall compose the Third District; the counties of Washington
and Holmes shall compose the Fourth District; the county of
Franklin shall compose the Fifth District; the county of Calhoun
shall compose the Sixth District; the county of Jackson shall
compose the Seventh District; the county of Gadsden shall
compose the Eighth District; the county of Liberty shall compose
the Ninth District; the county of Leon shall compose the Tenth
District; the county of Wakulla shall compose the Eleventh District;
the county of Jefferson shall compose the Twelfth District; the
county of Madison shall compose the Thirteenth District; the county
of Hamilton shall compose the Fourteenth District; the counties of
Lafayette and Taylor shall compose the Fifteenth District; the
county of Columbia shall compose the Sixteenth District; the county
of Suwannee shall compose the Seventeenth District; the counties
of Baker and Bradford shall compose the Eighteenth District; the
county of Alachua shall compose the Nineteenth District; the county
of Nassau shall compose the Twentieth District; the counties of
Duval and Clay shall compose the Twenty-First District; the
counties of St. Johns and Putnam shall compose the Twenty-
Second District; the county of Marion shall compose the Twenty-
Third District; the county of Sumter shall compose the Twenty-
Fourth District; the counties of Orange and Volusia shall compose
the Twenty-Fifth District; the counties of Levy and Hernando shall
compose the Twenty-Sixth District; the counties of Hillsborough and
Manatee shall compose the Twenty-Seventh District; the counties
of Polk and Brevard shall compose the Twenty-Eighth District; and
the counties of Monroe and Dade shall compose the Twenty-Ninth
District; and each Senatorial District shall be entitled to one
The proceeds of all lands for the use of Schools and a Seminary or
Seminaries of Learning shall be and remain a perpetual fund, the
interest of which, together with all monies accrued from any other
source, applicable to the same object, shall be inviolably
appropriated to the use of Schools and Seminaries of Learning,
respectively, and to no other purpose.
The General Assembly shall take such measures as may be
necessary to preserve from waste or damage all lands so granted
and appropriated for the purpose of Education.
Public Domain and Internal Improvement.
It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to provide for the
prevention of waste and damage of the public lands, that may
hereafter be ceded to the State of Florida, and it may pass laws for
the sale of any part or portion thereof; and, in such cases, provide
for the safety, security and appropriation of the proceeds, but in no
wise to affect the purposes for which said lands have heretofore
A liberal system of Internal Improvements being essential to the
development of the resources of the State, shall be encouraged by
the government of this State; and it shall be the duty of the General
Assembly, as soon as practicable, to ascertain by law proper
objects for the extension of Internal Improvements, in relation to
roads, canals and navigable streams, and to provide for a suitable
application of such funds as may have been, or may hereafter be
appropriated by said General Assembly for such improvements.
That the General Assembly may at any time cede to the United
State Government a sufficient parcel or fraction of land for the
purpose of coast defense and other national purposes.
The boundary of the State of Florida shall be as follows:
commencing at the mouth of the river Perdido, from thence up the
middle of said river to where it intersects the southern boundary line
of the State of Alabama, on the thirty-first degree of North latitude;
then due East to the Chattahoochee river; thence down the middle
of said river to its confluence with the Flint river; from thence
straight to the head of the St. Marys river; thence down the middle
of said river to the Atlantic Ocean; thence southwardly to the Gulf of
Florida and Gulf of Mexico; thence northwardly and westwardly,
including all islands within five leagues of the shore, to the
Banks and Other Corporations.
The General Assembly shall pass no act of incorporation, nor make
any alteration in one, unless with the assent of at least two-thirds of
each House, and unless public notice in one or more newspapers
in the State shall have been given for at least three months
immediately preceding the session at which the same may be
No bank charter, nor any act of incorporation granting exclusive
privileges, shall be granted for a longer period than twenty years.
Banks chartered by the General Assembly shall be restricted to the
business of exchange, discount and deposit, and they shall not deal
in real estate, nor in merchandise nor chattels, except as security
for loans or discounts, or for debts due to such bank; nor shall they
be concerned in insurance, manufacturing, exportation, or
importation, except of bullion, or specie; nor shall they own real
estate or chattels, except such as shall be necessary for their
actual use in the transaction of business, or which may be received
in payment of previously contracted debts, or purchased at legal
sales to satisfy such debts, of which they shall be required to make
sale within three years after the acquisition thereof.
The capital stock of any bank shall not be less than one hundred
thousand dollars, to be paid in suitable installments, and shall be
created only by the payment of specie therein.
All liabilities of such banks shall be payable in specie, and the
circulation of no bank shall exceed three dollars for one of capital
actually paid in.
No dividends or profits exceeding ten per centum per annum on the
capital stock paid in shall be made; but all profits over ten per
centum per annum shall be set apart and retained as a safety fund.
Stockholders in a bank, when an act of forfeiture is committed, or
when it is dissolved or has expired, shall be individually and
severally liable for the redemption of the outstanding circulation, in
proportion to the stock owned by each, and no transfer of stock
shall exonerate such stockholders from this liability, unless such
transfer was made at least two years previous to said forfeiture,
dissolution or expiration.
Banks shall be open to inspection under such regulations as may
be prescribed by law, and it shall be the duty of the Governor to
appoint a person or persons not connected in any manner with any
bank in the State, to examine at least once a year into their state
and condition; and the officers of every bank shall make quarterly
returns under oath, to the Governor, of its state and condition, and
the names of the stockholders, and shares held by each.
Non user for the space of one year, or any act of a corporation, or
those having the control or management thereof, or intrusted
therewith, inconsistent with, or in violation of the provisions of this
Constitution, or of its charter, shall cause its forfeiture, and the
General Assembly shall by general law provide a summary process
for the sequestration of its effects and assets, and the appointment
of officers to settle its affairs, and no forfeited charter shall be
The General Assembly shall not pledge the faith and credit of the
State to raise funds in the aid of any corporation whatever.
Amendments and Revisions of the Constitution.
No part of this Constitution shall be altered except by a Convention
No Convention of the people shall be called unless by the
concurrence of two-thirds of all the members of each House of the
General Assembly, made known by the passing of a bill, which
shall be read three times on three several days in each House.
Whenever a Convention shall be called, proclamation of an election
for Delegates shall be made by the Governor at least thirty days
before the day of election. Every County and Senatorial District
shall be entitled to as many Delegates as it has representatives in
the General Assembly. The same qualifications shall be required in
Delegates, and in Electors, that are required in members of the
General Assembly, and voters for the same respectively, and the
elections for Delegates to a Convention, and the returns of such
election, shall be held and made in the manner prescribed by law
for regulating elections for members of the General Assembly, but
the Convention shall judge of the qualifications of its members.
Seat of Government.
The Seat of Government shall be and remain permanent at the City
of Tallahassee, until otherwise provided for by the action of a
Convention of the people of the State.
Whereas, slavery has been destroyed in this State by the
Government of the United States; therefore, neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude shall in future exist in this State, except as a
punishment for crimes, whereof the party shall have been convicted
by the courts of the State, and all the inhabitants of the State,
without distinction of color, are free, and shall enjoy the rights of
person and property without distinction of color.
In all criminal proceedings founded upon injury to a colored person,
and in all cases affecting the rights and remedies of colored
persons, no person shall be incompetent to testify as a witness on
account of color; in all other cases, the testimony of colored
persons shall be excluded, unless made competent by future
legislation. The jury shall judge the credibility of the testimony.
The Jurors of this State shall be white men, possessed of such
qualifications as may be prescribed by law.
Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against
it, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No
person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two
witnesses to the same overt act, or his confession in open court.
Divorces from the bonds of matrimony shall not be allowed but by
the judgment of a court, as shall be prescribed by law.
The General Assembly shall declare by law what parts of the
common law, and what parts of the civil law, not inconsistent with
this Constitution, shall be in force in this State.
The oaths of officers directed to be taken under this Constitution,
may be administered by any judge, or justice of the peace, in the
State of Florida, until otherwise provided by law.
Schedule and Ordinance.
All the laws of the State passed during and since the tenth session
of the Legislature thereof, in 1860, not repugnant to the Constitution
of this State, or of the United States, shall be valid; all writs,
actions, prosecutions, judgments and decrees, of the courts of the
State, all executions and sales made thereunder, and all acts,
orders and proceedings of the Judges of Probate, and of
Executors, Administrators, Guardians and Trustees, provided they
were in conformity to the laws then in force, and not fraudulent,
shall be as valid as if made under the usual and ordinary legislation
of the country, provided that the same be not repugnant to the
Constitution of the state and of the United States.
All fines, penalties, forfeitures, obligations and escheats, heretofore
accruing to the State of Florida, and not made unlawful by the
Constitution or laws of the United States, shall continue to accrue to
the use of the State.
All recognizances heretofore taken shall remain valid, and all bonds
executed to the Governor of the State of Florida, either before or
since the first day of January, 1861, or to any other officer of the
State in his official capacity, shall be of full force and virtue for the
uses herein respectively expressed, and may be sued for and
recovered accordingly; and all criminal prosecution and penal
actions which have arisen may be prosecuted to judgment and
execution in the name of the State.
The Provisional Governor of this State is hereby requested to
authorize the civil officers of this State who were discharging the
duties of their offices prior to, or during the month of May, A. D.
1865, to resume the exercise of the functions of their respective
offices, and to make such other appointments to office as may be
necessary or proper to reorganize or re-establish the civil
government of this State; and all actions at law, or suits in
chancery, or any proceeding pending in any of the courts of this
State, prior to, or during the said month of May, 1865, and either
before or subsequent to the 10th day of January, A. D. 1861, shall
continue in all respects valid, and may be prosecuted to judgment
and decree: and all judgments and decrees rendered in civil causes
in any of the courts in this State during the period of time last above
specified, and not repugnant to the constitution of the United
States, are hereby declared of full force, validity and effect.
The Provisional Governor of the State is hereby requested and
authorized, at as early a day as practicable, to issue writs of
election to the proper officers in the different counties in this State,
and make proclamation for an election for Governor, Lieutenant
Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Comptroller of Public
Accounts, Attorney General, Circuit Judges, Judges of Probate,
Sheriffs, Clerks of Circuit Courts, Solicitors, Representative in
Congress, Senators and Representatives of the General Assembly,
County Commissioners, Coroners, Justices of the Peace, County
Surveyors, and all other officers provided for by this Constitution.
The said election shall be held on the 29th day of November, A.D.
1865. The said election shall be conducted according to the
existing laws of the State of Florida, and shall take place on the
same day throughout the State, the returns to be made according
to law. The members of the General Assembly so elected shall
assemble on the 3d Monday in December, A. D. 1865. The
Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer,
Comptroller of Public Accounts, Attorney General, Circuit Judges,
Judges of Probate, Sheriffs, Clerks of Circuit Courts, Solicitors,
Representative in Congress, Senators and Representatives of the
General Assembly, County Commissioners, Coroners, Justices of
the Peace, County Surveyors and all other officers provided for by
this Constitution, shall enter upon the duties of their respective
offices immediately after their election, and shall continue in office
in the same manner and during the same period they would have
done had they been elected on the first Monday in October, A. D.
1865. The Representative in Congress shall continue in office in the
same manner and during the same period he would have done,
had he been elected on the first Monday in October, A. D. 1865.
The Statutes of Limitation shall not be pleaded upon any claim in
the hands of any person whomsoever, not sued upon when such
claim was not barred by the Statutes of Limitation on the 10th day
of January, A. D. 1861.
No law of this State providing that claims or demands against the
estates of decedents shall be barred if not presented within two
years, shall be considered as being in force within this State
between the 10th day of January, 1861, and the 25th day of
Done in open Convention. In witness whereof, the undersigned,
the President of said Convention, and Delegates present,
representing the people of Florida, do hereby sign our names, this
the seventh day of November, Anno Domini, Eighteen Hundred and
Sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America
the ninetieth year, and the Secretary of said Convention doth
countersign the same.
E. D. TRACY, President
Thomas Baltzell, James T. Magbee, A. H. Bush, G. Troup Maxwell,
F. B. Callaway, Asa May, W. B. Cooper, John McLellan, W. R.
Coulter, James A. Mickler, Jr. H. M. Davidson, S. L. Niblack, Arthur
J. Forman, Silas T. Overstreet, Alexander Bell, James G. Owens,
James Gettis, John C. Richard, W. J. J. Duncan, Jackson N.
Richards, Jas. D. Green, A. Richardson, Francis A. Hendry, W.
Wash. Scott, W. Jas. Hines, Moses Simmons, D. P. Hogue, S.
Spencer, J. W. H. Holden, J. L. Taylor, Jas. F. P. Johnston, G. K.
Walker, Wm. W. J. Kelly, D. W. Whitehurst, J. M. Landrum, James
A. Wiggins, Jesse B. Lassiter, B. D. Wright, Felix Leslie, Wm.
Wilson, Dan'l. G. Livingston, Wm. Capers Bird, Thos. T. Long,
Wiley W. Whidden, James Love, S. N. Williams,
A. J. PEELER, Secretary.