Florida Constitutional Convention (1885)
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or FORM OF GOVERNMENT,
for the PEOPLE OF FLORIDA
Adopted by the CONVENTION OF 1885
We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for
our constitutional liberty, in order to secure its blessings and to form
a more perfect government, insuring domestic tranquility,
maintaining public order, and guaranteeing equal civil and political
rights to all, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
All men are equal before the law, and have certain inalienable
rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and
liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing
happiness and obtaining safety.
All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted
for the protection, security and benefit of the citizens, and they have
the right to alter or amend the same whenever the public good may
require it; but the paramount allegiance of every citizen is due to
the Federal Government, and the people of this State have no
power to dissolve its connection therewith.
The right of trial by jury shall be secured to all, and remain inviolate
All courts in the State shall be open, so that every person for any
injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation shall have
remedy, by due course of law, and right and justice shall be
administered without sale, denial or delay.
The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and
worship shall forever be allowed in this State, and no person shall
be rendered incompetent as a witness on account of his religious
opinions; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be
so construed as to justify licentiousness or practices subversive of,
or inconsistent with, the peace or moral safety of the State or
No preference shall be given by law to any church, sect or mode of
worship, and no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury
directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect or religious
denomination, or in aid of any sectarian institution.
The writ of habeas corpus shall be grantable speedily and of right,
freely and without cost, and shall never be suspended unless, in
case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require its
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines be
imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment or indefinite
imprisonment be allowed, nor shall witnesses be unreasonably
All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital
offenses, where the proof is evident or the presumption great.
No person shall be tried for a capital crime or other felony, unless
on presentment or indictment by grand jury, except as is otherwise
provided in this Constitution, and except in cases of impeachment,
and in cases in the militia when in active service in time of war, or
which the State, with the consent of Congress, may keep, in time of
In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have the right to a
speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury, in the county where the
crime was committed, and shall be heard by himself, or counsel, or
both, to demand the nature and cause of the accusation against
him, to meet the witnesses against him face to face, and have
compulsory process for the attendance of witnesses in his favor,
and shall be furnished with a copy of the indictment against him.
No person shall be subject to be twice put in jeopardy for the same
offense, nor compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against
himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty or property without due
process of law; nor shall private property be taken without just
Every person may fully speak and write his sentiments on all
subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no laws
shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the
press. In all criminal prosecutions and civil actions for libel the truth
may be given in evidence to the jury, and if it shall appear that the
matter charged as libelous is true, and was published for good
motives, the party shall be acquitted or exonerated.
No person shall be compelled to pay costs except after conviction,
on a final trial.
The people shall have the right to assemble together to consult for
the common good, to instruct their representatives, and to petition
the Legislature for redress of grievances.
No person shall be imprisoned for debts except in cases of fraud.
No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, nor any law impairing the
obligation of contracts, shall ever be passed.
Foreigners shall have the same rights as to the ownership,
inheritance and disposition of property in this State as citizens of
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment
for crime, whereof the party has been duly convicted, shall ever be
allowed in this State.
The right of the people to bear arms in defense of themselves and
the lawful authority of the State, shall not be infringed, but the
Legislature may prescribe the manner in which they may be borne.
The military shall in all cases and at all times be in strict
subordination to the civil power.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers and effects against unreasonable seizures and searches,
shall not be violated, and no warrants issued but upon probable
cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the
place or places to be searched, and the person or persons, and
thing or things to be seized.
Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against
it, adhering to its enemies, or giving them aid and comfort; and no
person shall be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two
witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open court, and
no conviction for treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture
This enunciation of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny
others retained by the people.
The boundaries 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 south boundary line of
the State of Alabama, and the thirty-first degree of north latitude;
thence due east to the Chattahoochee river; thence down the
middle of said river to its confluence with the Flint river; thence
straight to the head of the St. Marys river; thence down the middle
of said river to the Atlantic ocean; thence southeastwardly along the
coast to the edge of the Gulf Stream; thence southwestwardly
along the edge of the Gulf Stream and Florida Reefs to and
including the Tortugas islands; thence northeastwardly to a point
three leagues from the mainland; thence northwestwardly three
leagues from the land, to a point west of the mouth of the Perdido
river; thence to the place of beginning.
DISTRIBUTION OF POWER.
The powers of the government of the State of Florida shall be
divided into three departments: Legislative, Executive and Judicial;
and no person properly belonging to one of the departments shall
exercise any powers appertaining to either of the others, except in
cases expressly provided for by this Constitution.
The Legislative authority of this State shall be vested in a Senate
and a House of Representatives, which shall be designated, "The
Legislature of the State of Florida," and the sessions thereof shall
be held at the seat of government of the State.
The regular sessions of the Legislature shall be held biennially,
commencing on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April, A.
D. 1887, and on the corresponding day of every second year
thereafter, but the Governor may convene the same in extra
session by his proclamation. Regular sessions of the Legislature
may extend to sixty days, but no special session convened by the
Governor shall exceed twenty days.
The members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen
biennially, those of the first Legislature on the first Tuesday after
the first Monday in November, A. D. 1886, and thereafter on the
corresponding day of every second year.
Senators and members of the House of Representatives shall be
duly qualified electors in the respective counties and districts for
which they were chosen. The pay of members of the Senate and
House of Representatives shall not exceed six dollars a day for
each day of session, and mileage to and from their houses to the
seat of government, not to exceed ten cents a mile each way, by
the nearest and most practicable route.
No Senator or member of the House of Representatives shall,
during the time for which he was elected, be appointed or elected to
any civil office under the Constitution of this State, that has been
created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased
during such time.
Each House shall judge of the qualifications, elections and returns
of its own members, choose its own officers, and determine the
rules of its proceedings. The Senate shall, at the convening of each
regular session thereof, choose from among its own members a
permanent President of the Senate, who shall be its presiding
officer. The House of Representatives shall, at the convening of
each regular session thereof, choose from among its own members
a permanent Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall
be its presiding officer. Each House may punish its own members
for disorderly conduct; and each House, with the concurrence of
two-thirds of all of its members present, may expel a member.
No person holding a lucrative office or appointment under the
United States or this State, shall be eligible to a seat in the
Legislature of this State.
The seat of a member of either House shall be vacated on his
permanent change of residence from the district or county from
which he was elected.
Either House during the session may punish by fine or
imprisonment any person not a member who shall have been guilty
of disorderly or contemptuous conduct in its presence, or of a
refusal to obey its lawful summons, but such imprisonment shall not
extend beyond the final adjournment of the session.
Either House shall have power to compel the attendance of
witnesses upon any investigations held by itself, or by any of its
committees; the manner of the exercise of such power shall be
provided 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 compel the
presence of absent members in such manner and under such
penalties as it may prescribe.
Each House shall keep a journal of its own proceedings, which
shall be published, and the yeas and nays of the members of either
House on any question shall, at the desire of any five members
present, be entered on the Journal.
The doors of each House shall be kept open during its session,
except the Senate while sitting in Executive session; and neither
shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three
days, or to any other town than that in which they may be holding
Any bill may originate in either House of the Legislature, and after
being passed in one House may be amended in the other.
The enacting clause of every law shall be as follows: "Be it enacted
by the Legislature of the State of Florida.
Each law enacted in the Legislature shall embrace but one subject
and matter properly connected therewith, which subject shall be
briefly expressed in the title; and no law shall be amended or
revised by reference to its title only; but in such case the act, as
revised, or section, as amended, shall be re-enacted and published
Every bill shall be read by sections on three several days in each
House, unless, in case of emergency, two-thirds of the House
where such bill may be pending shall deem it expedient to dispense
with this rule; but the reading of a bill by sections on its final
passage shall in no case be dispensed with, and the vote on the
final passage of every bill or joint resolution shall be taken by yeas
and nays, to be entered on the Journal of each House; Provided,
That any general revision of the entire laws embodied in any bill
shall not be required to be read by sections upon its final passage,
and its reading may be wholly dispensed with by a two-thirds vote;
and a majority of the members present in each House shall be
necessary to pass every bill or joint resolution; and all bills or joint
resolutions so passed shall be signed by the presiding officers of
the respective Houses, and by the Secretary of the Senate and the
Clerk of the House of Representatives.
No law shall take effect until sixty days from the final adjournment
of the session of the Legislature at which it may have been
enacted, unless otherwise specially provided in such law.
Accurate statements of the receipts and expenditures of the public
money shall be attached to and published with the laws passed at
every regular session of the Legislature.
The Legislature shall not pass special or local laws in any of the
following enumerated cases: that is to say, regulating the
jurisdiction and duties of any class of officers, except municipal
officers, or for the punishment of crime or misdemeanor; regulating
the practice of courts of justice, except municipal courts; providing
for changing venue of civil and criminal cases; granting divorces;
changing the names of persons; vacating roads; summoning and
empaneling grand and petit juries, and providing for their
compensation; for assessment and collection of taxes for State and
county purposes; for opening and conducting elections for State
and county officers, and for designating the places of voting; for the
sale of real estate belonging to minors, estates of decedents, and
of persons laboring under legal disabilities; regulating the fees of
officers of the State and county; giving effect to informal or invalid
deeds or wills; legitimizing children; providing for the adoption of
children; relieving minors from legal disabilities; and for the
establishment of ferries.
In all cases enumerated in the preceding section all laws shall be
general and of uniform operation throughout the State, but in all
cases not enumerated or excepted in that section, the Legislature
may pass special or local laws; Provided, That no local or special
bill shall be passed, unless notice of the intention to apply therefore
shall have been published in the locality where the matter or thing
to be affected may be situated, which notice shall state the
substance of the contemplated law, and shall be published at least
sixty days prior to the introduction into the Legislature of such bill,
and in the manner to be provided by law. The evidence that such
notice has been published shall be established in the Legislature
before such bill shall be passed.
Provision may be made by general law for bringing suit against the
State as to all liabilities now existing or hereafter originating.
Lotteries are hereby prohibited in this State.
The Legislature shall establish a uniform system of county and
municipal government, which shall be applicable, except in cases
where local or special laws are provided by the Legislature that
may be inconsistent therewith.
The Legislature shall provide by general law for incorporating such
educational, agricultural, mechanical, mining and other useful
companies or associations as may be deemed necessary.
Laws shall be passed regulating elections, and prohibiting, under
adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon from power,
bribery, tumult or other improper practice.
The Legislature shall provide for the election by the people or
appointment by the Governor of all State and county officers not
otherwise provided for by this Constitution, and fix by law their
duties and compensation.
Every bill that may have passed the Legislature shall, before
becoming a law, be presented to the Governor; if he approves it he
shall sign it, but if not he shall return it with his objections to the
House in which it originated, which House shall cause such
objections to be entered upon its Journal, and proceed to
reconsider it; if, after such reconsideration, it shall pass both
Houses by a two-thirds vote of members present, which vote shall
be entered on the Journal of each House, it shall become a law. If
any bill shall not be returned within five days after it shall have been
presented to the Governor (Sunday excepted) the same shall be a
law, in like manner as if he had signed it. If the Legislature, by its
final adjournment prevent such action, such bill shall be a law,
unless the Governor, within ten days after the adjournment, shall
file such bill, with his objections thereto, in the office of the
Secretary of State, who shall lay the same before the Legislature at
its next session, and if the same shall receive two-thirds of the
votes present it shall become a law.
The House of Representatives shall have the sole power of
impeachment; but a vote of two-thirds of all members present shall
be required to impeach any officer; and 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 Senators present. The
Senate may adjourn to a fixed day for the trial of any impeachment,
and may sit for the purpose of such trial whether the House of
Representatives be in session or not, but the time fixed for such
trial shall not be more than six months from the time articles of
impeachment shall be preferred by the House of Representatives.
The Chief Justice shall preside at all trials by impeachment except
in the trial of the Chief Justice, when the Governor shall preside.
The Governor, Administrative officers of the Executive Department,
Justices of the Supreme Court, and Judges of the Circuit Court
shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor in office, but
judgment in such cases shall extend only to removal from office
and disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust or profit under
the State; but the party convicted or acquitted shall nevertheless be
liable to indictment, trial and punishment according to law.
Laws making appropriations for the salaries of public officers and
other current expenses of the State shall contain provisions on no
The Legislature shall elect United States Senators in the manner
prescribed by the Congress of the United States and by this
The repeal or amendment of any Criminal Statute shall not affect
the prosecution or punishment of any crime committed before such
repeal or amendment.
No statute shall be passed lessening the time within which a civil
action may be commenced on any cause of action existing at the
time of its passage.
The Supreme Executive power of the State shall be vested in a
Chief Magistrate, who shall be styled the Governor of Florida.
The Governor shall be elected by the qualified electors of the State
at the time and places of voting for members of the Legislature, and
shall hold his office for four years from the time of his installation,
but shall not be eligible for re-election to said office the next
succeeding term; Provided, That the first election for Governor
under this Constitution shall be had at the time and places of voting
for members of the Legislature and State officers, A. D. 1888, and
the term of office of the Governor then elected shall begin on the
first Tuesday after the first Monday in January after his election.
No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who is not a
qualified elector, and who has not been ten years a citizen of the
United States, and five years a citizen and resident of the State of
Florida, next preceding the time of his election; Provided, That
these limitations of time shall not apply to the President of the
Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives when, under
this Constitution, the powers and duties of Governor shall devolve
The Governor shall be Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of
the State, except when they shall be called into the service of the
The Governor shall transact all Executive business with the officers
of the Government, civil and military, and may require information in
writing from the administrative officers of the Executive Department
upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.
The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
When any office, from any cause, shall become vacant, and no
mode is provided by this Constitution or by the laws of the State for
filling such vacancy, the Governor shall have the power to fill such
vacancy by granting a commission for the unexpired term.
The Governor may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the
Legislature by proclamation, and shall in his proclamation state the
purpose for which it is to be convened, and the Legislature when
organized shall transact no legislative business other than that for
which it is especially convened, or such other legislative business
as the Governor may call to its attention while in session, except by
a two-thirds vote of each House.
The Governor shall communicate by message to the Legislature at
each regular session information concerning the condition of the
State, and recommend such measures as he may deem expedient.
In case of a disagreement between the two Houses with respect to
the time of adjournment, the Governor shall have power to adjourn
the Legislature to such time as he may think proper, provided it be
not beyond the time fixed for the meeting of the next Legislature.
The Governor shall have power to suspend the collection of fines
and forfeitures, and grant reprieves for a period not exceeding sixty
days, for all offenses, except in cases of impeachment. In cases of
conviction for treason he shall have power to suspend the
execution of sentence until the case shall be reported to the
Legislature at its next session, when the Legislature shall either
pardon, direct the execution of the sentence, or grant a further
reprieve; and if the Legislature shall fail or refuse to make
disposition of such case, the sentence shall be enforced at such
time and place as the Governor may direct. He shall communicate
to the Legislature, at the beginning of every session, every case of
fine or forfeiture remitted, or reprieve, pardon or commutation
granted, stating the name of the convict, the crime for which he was
convicted, the sentence, its date, and the date of its remission,
commutation, pardon or reprieve.
The Governor, Justices of the Supreme Court, and Attorney
General, or a major part of them, of whom the Governor shall be
one, may, upon such conditions, and with such limitations and
restrictions as they may deem proper, remit fines and forfeitures,
commute punishment and grant pardons after conviction, in all
cases except treason and impeachment, subject to such
regulations as may be prescribed by law relative to the manner of
applying for pardons.
The Governor may, at any time, require the opinion of the Justices
of the Supreme Court as to the interpretation of any portion of this
Constitution upon any question affecting his Executive powers and
duties, and the Justices shall render such opinion in writing.
All grants and commissions shall be in the name and under the
authority of the State of Florida, sealed with the great seal of the
State, signed by the Governor, and countersigned by the Secretary
All officers that shall have been appointed or elected, and that are
not liable to impeachment, may be suspended from office by the
Governor for malfeasance, or misfeasance, or neglect of duty in
office, for the commission of any felony, or for drunkenness or
incompetency, and the cause of suspension shall be communicated
to the officer suspended and to the Senate at its next session. And
the Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, may remove
any officer, not liable to impeachment, for any cause above named.
Every suspension shall continue until the adjournment of the next
session of the Senate, unless the officer suspended shall, upon the
recommendation of the Governor, be removed; but the Governor
may reinstate the officer so suspended upon satisfactory evidence
that the charge or charges against him are untrue. If the Senate
shall refuse to remove, or fail to take action before its adjournment,
the officer suspended shall resume the duties of the office. The
Governor shall have power to fill by appointment any office, the
incumbent of which has been suspended. No officer suspended
who shall under this section resume the duties of his office, shall
suffer any loss of salary or other compensation in consequence of
such suspension. The suspension or removal herein authorized
shall not relieve the officer from indictment for any misdemeanor in
The Governor shall appoint all commissioned officers of the State
Militia, including an Adjutant General for the State. The Adjutant
General shall be the chief officer of the Governor's staff, with the
rank of Major General. His duties and compensation shall be
prescribed by law; Provided, That this Constitution shall work no
vacancy in the office of Adjutant General, as now constituted, until
the expiration of the present term.
The Governor and the administrative officers of the Executive
Department shall constitute a Board of Commissioners of State
Institutions, which Board shall have supervision of all matters
connected with such institutions in such manner as shall be
prescribed by law.
The Governor shall have power to disapprove of any item or items
of any bills making appropriations of money embracing distinct
items, and the part or parts of the bill approved shall be the law,
and the item or items of appropriation disapproved shall be void,
unless repassed according to the rules and limitations prescribed
for the passage of other bills over the Executive veto.
In case of the impeachment of the Governor, his removal from
office, death, resignation or inability to discharge his official duties,
the powers and duties of Governor shall devolve upon the
President of the Senate for the residue of the term, or until the
disability shall cease; and in case of the impeachment, removal
from office, death, resignation or inability of the President of the
Senate, the power and duties of the office shall devolve upon the
Speaker of the House of Representatives. But should there be a
general election foe members of the Legislature during such
vacancy, an election for Governor to fill the same shall be had at
the same time.
The Governor shall be assisted by administrative officers as
follows: A Secretary of State, Attorney General, Comptroller,
Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Commissioner
of Agriculture, who shall be elected at the same time as the
Governor, and shall hold their offices for the same term; Provided,
That the first election of such officers shall be had at the time of
voting for Governor A. D. 1888.
The Secretary of State shall keep the records of official acts of the
Legislative and Executive Departments of the Government, and
shall, when required, lay the same, and all matters relative thereto,
before either branch of the Legislature; and shall be the custodian
of the Great Seal of the State. He shall also have charge of the
Capitol building and grounds, and perform such other duties as
shall be prescribed by law.
The Attorney General shall be the legal adviser of the Governor,
and of each of the officers of the Executive Department, and shall
perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law. He shall be
Reporter for the Supreme Court.
The Comptroller shall examine, audit, adjust and settle the
accounts of all officers of the State and perform such other duties
as may be prescribed by law.
The Treasurer shall receive and keep all funds, bonds, and other
securities, in such manner as may be prescribed by law, and shall
disburse no funds, nor issue bonds, or other securities, except
upon the order of the Comptroller countersigned by the Governor,
in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall have supervision of
all matters pertaining to public instruction; the supervision of State
buildings devoted to educational purposes, and perform such other
duties as the Legislature may provide by law.
The Commissioner of Agriculture shall perform such duties in
relation to agriculture as may be prescribed by law; shall have
supervision of all matters pertaining to the public lands under
regulations prescribed by law, and shall keep the Bureau of
Immigration. He shall also have supervision of the State Prison,
and shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law.
Each officer of this Department shall make a full report of his official
acts, of the receipts and expenditures of his office, and of the
requirements of the same, to the Governor at the beginning of each
regular session of the Legislature, or whenever the Governor shall
require it. Such report, shall be laid before the Legislature by the
Governor at the beginning of each regular session thereof. Either
House of the Legislature may at any time call upon any officer of
this department for information required by it.
The administrative officers of the Executive Department shall be
installed on the same day as the Governor.
The salary of the Governor of the State shall be thirty-five hundred
dollars a year, of the Comptroller two thousand dollars, of the State
Treasurer two thousand dollars, of the Secretary of State fifteen
hundred dollars, of the Attorney General fifteen hundred dollars, of
the Commissioner of Agriculture fifteen hundred dollars, of the
Superintendent of Public Instruction fifteen hundred dollars, a year;
Provided, That no administrative officer of the Executive
Department shall receive any additional compensation beyond his
salary for any services rendered the State in connection with the
Internal Improvement fund or other interests belonging to the State
of Florida; Provided, further, That the Legislature may after eight
years from the adoption of this Constitution increase or decrease
any or all of said salaries.
The judicial power of the State shall be vested in a Supreme Court,
Circuit Courts, Criminal Courts, County Courts, County Judges and
Justices of the Peace.
The Supreme Court shall consist of three Justices, who shall be
elected by the qualified electors of the State at the time and places
of voting for members of the Legislature, and shall hold their office
for the term of six years, except those first elected, one of whom, to
be designated by lot in such manner as they may determine, shall
hold his office for two years, another to be designated in like
manner for four years, and the third for six years, so that one shall
be elected every two years after the first election. The Chief Justice
shall be designated by lot by said Justices, and shall be such
during his term of office. The first election for said Justices shall
take place at the first election for members of the Legislature after
the ratification of this Constitution, and their term of office shall
begin on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January after
No person shall ever be appointed or elected as a Justice of the
Supreme Court, or Judge of a Circuit Court, or Criminal Court, that
is not twenty-five years of age and an attorney at law.
The majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court shall constitute a
quorum for the transaction of all business. The concurrence of two
Justices shall be necessary to a decision. The number of terms of
the Supreme Court and the times of holding the same shall be
regulated by law. All terms shall be held at the Capital of the State.
The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction in all cases at
law and in equity originating in Circuit courts, and of appeals from
the Circuit Courts in cases arising before Judges of the County
Courts in matters pertaining to their probate jurisdiction and in the
management of the estates of infants, and in cases of conviction of
felony in the criminal courts, and in all criminal cases originating in
the Circuit Courts. The Court shall have the power to issue writs of
mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, quo warrant, habeas corpus,
and also all writs necessary or proper to the complete exercise of
its jurisdiction. Each of the Justices shall have power to issue writs
of habeas corpus to any part of the State upon petition by or on
behalf of any person held in actual custody, and may make such
writs returnable before himself or the Supreme Court, or any
Justice thereof, or before any Circuit Judge.
The Legislature shall have power to prescribe regulations for calling
into the Supreme Court a Judge of the Circuit Court, to hear and
determine any matters pending before the Court in the place of any
Justice thereof that shall be disqualified or disabled in such case
from interest or other cause.
The Supreme Court shall appoint a Clerk who shall have his office
at the Capital and shall be Librarian of the Supreme Court Library.
There shall be seven Circuit Judges, who shall be appointed by the
Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and who shall hold their
office for six years. The State shall be divided into seven Judicial
Circuits, and one Judge shall be assigned to each Circuit. Such
Judge shall hold at least two terms of his court in each county
within his Circuit every year, at such times and places as shall be
prescribed by law, and may hold special terms. The Governor may,
in his discretion, order a temporary exchange of Circuits by the
respective Judges, or order any Judge to hold one or more terms or
parts of terms in any other Circuit than that to which he is assigned.
The Judge shall reside in the Circuit of which he is Judge.
Successors to the Judges of the Circuit Courts in office at the
ratification of this Constitution shall be appointed and confirmed at
the first session of the Legislature after such ratification.
The salary of the Justices of the Supreme Court shall be three
thousand dollars a year. The salary of each Circuit Judge shall be
two thousand five hundred dollars a year.
Until otherwise defined by the Legislature the several Judicial
Circuits of the State shall be as follows:
The First Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the counties
of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington and
The Second Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the
counties of Gadsden, Liberty, Calhoun, Franklin, Leon,
Wakulla and Jefferson.
The Third Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the counties
of Madison, Taylor, Lafayette, Hamilton, Suwannee and
The Fourth Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the
counties of Nassau, Duval, Baker, Bradford, Clay and St.
The Fifth Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the counties
of Putnam, Alachua, Levy, Marion and Sumter.
The Sixth Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the counties
of Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Polk and Monroe.
The Seventh Judicial Circuit shall be composed of the
counties of Volusia, Brevard, Orange and Dade.
The Circuit Courts shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all
cases in equity, also in all cases at law, not cognizable by inferior
courts, and in all cases involving the legality of any tax,
assessment, or toll; of the action of ejectment and of all actions
involving the titles or boundaries of real estate, and of all criminal
cases not cognizable by inferior courts; and original jurisdiction of
actions of forcible entry and unlawful detainer, and of such other
matters as the Legislature may provide. They shall have final
appellate jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases arising in the
County Court, or before the County Judge, of all misdemeanors
tried in Criminal Courts, of judgments or sentences of any Mayor's
Court, and of all cases arising before Justices of the Peace in
counties in which there is no County Court; and supervision and
appellate jurisdiction of matters arising before County Judges
pertaining to their probate jurisdiction, or to the estates and
interests of minors, and of such other matters as the Legislature
may provide. The Circuit Courts and Judges shall have power to
issue writs of mandamus, injunction, quo warrant, certiorari,
prohibition, habeas corpus and all writs proper and necessary to
the complete exercise of their jurisdiction.
The Circuit Courts and Circuit Judges may have such extra
territorial jurisdiction in chancery cases as may be prescribed by
It shall be the duty of the Judges of the Circuit Courts to report to
the Attorney General at least thirty days before each session of the
Legislature such defects in the laws as may have been brought to
their attention, and to suggest such amendments or additional
Legislation as may be deemed necessary. The Attorney General
shall report to the Legislature at each session such legislation as he
may deem advisable.
A Circuit Judge may appoint in each county in his Circuit one or
more attorneys at law, to be Court Commissioners, who shall have
power in the absence from the country of the Circuit Judge, to allow
writs of injunction and to issue writs of habeas corpus, returnable
before himself or the Circuit Judge. Their orders in such matters
may be reviewed by the Circuit Judge, and confirmed, qualified or
vacated. They may be removed by the Circuit Judge. The
Legislature may confer upon them further powers, not judicial, and
shall fix their compensation.
The Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, shall appoint
a State Attorney in each Judicial Circuit, whose duties shall be
prescribed by law, and who shall hold office for four years. There
shall be elected in each county a Sheriff, and a Clerk of the Circuit
Court, who shall also be Clerk of the County Court, except in
counties where there are Criminal Courts, and of the Board of
County Commissioners, and Recorder and ex-officio Auditor of the
County, each of whom shall hold office for four years. Their duties
shall be prescribed by law.
There shall be in each county a County Judge who shall be elected
by the qualified electors of said county at the times and places of
voting for other county officers and shall hold his office for four
years. His compensation shall be provided for by law.
The County Judge shall have original jurisdiction in all cases at law
in which the demand or value of property involved shall not exceed
one hundred dollars; of proceedings relating to the forcible entry or
unlawful detention of lands and tenements; and of such criminal
cases as the Legislature may prescribe. The County Judge shall
have jurisdiction of the settlement of the estates of decedents and
minors, to order the sale of real estate of decedents and minors, to
take probate of wills, to grant letters testamentary and of
administration and guardianship, and to discharge the duties
usually pertaining to courts of probate. He shall have the power of a
committing magistrate and shall issue all licenses required by law
to be issued in the county.
The Legislature may organize in such counties, as it may think
proper, County Courts which shall have jurisdiction of all cases at
law in which the demand or value of the property involved shall not
exceed five hundred dollars; of proceedings relating to the forcible
entry or unlawful detention of lands and tenements, and of
misdemeanors, and final appellate jurisdiction in civil cases arising
in the Courts of Justices of the Peace. The trial of such appeals
may be de novo
at the option of appellant. The County Judge shall be the Judge of
said Court. There shall be elected by the qualified electors of said
county at the time when the said Judge is elected a Prosecuting
Attorney for said county, who shall hold office for four years. His
duties and compensation shall be prescribed by law. Such Courts
may be abolished at the pleasure of the Legislature.
When any civil case at law in which the Judge is disqualified shall
be called for trial in a Circuit or County Court, the parties may agree
upon an attorney at law, who shall be Judge ad litem, and shall
preside over the trial of and make orders in said cause as if he
were Judge of the Court. The parties may, however, transfer the
cause to another Circuit Court or County Court, as the case may
be, or may have the case submitted to a referee.
Any civil cause may be tried before a practicing attorney as referee
upon the application of the parties and an order from the court in
whose jurisdiction the case may be, authorizing such trial and
appointing such referee. The referee shall keep a complete record
of the case, including the evidence taken, and such record shall be
filed with the papers in the case in the office of the Clerk; and the
cause shall be subject to an appeal in the manner prescribed by
The County Commissioners of each county shall divide it into as
many Justice Districts, not less than two, as they may deem
necessary. There shall be elected one Justice of the Peace for
each of the said districts. He shall hold his office for four years.
In each county where there is no County Court, as provided for in
section eighteen of this Article, the Justices of the Peace shall have
jurisdiction in cases at law in which the demand or value of the
property involved does not exceed one hundred dollars, and in
which the cause of action accrued, or the defendant resides, in his
district; and in such criminal cases, except felonies, as many be
prescribed by law; and in counties where County Courts are
established, as provided for in section eighteen of this Article, every
Justice of the Peace shall have jurisdiction in cases at law in which
the demand or value of the property does not exceed fifty dollars,
and in which the cause of action accrued, or the defendant resides,
in his district; and he shall have power to issue process for the
arrest of persons charged with crime, and to make the same
returnable before himself or the County Judge, for examination,
discharge, commitment or bail of the accused. Justices of the
Peace shall have power to hold inquests of the dead. Appeals from
the Justice of the Peace Courts to Circuit Courts in criminal cases
shall be tried de novo under such regulations as the Legislature
A Constable shall be elected by the registered voters in each
Justice's district, who shall perform such duties, and under such
regulations as may be prescribed by law.
There shall be established in the county of Escambia, and upon
application of a majority of the registered voters in such other
counties as the Legislature may deem expedient, a Criminal Court
of Record, and there shall be one Judge for each of the said courts,
who shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the
Senate, who shall hold his office for four years, and whose salary
shall be one thousand dollars a year, the counties paying the
The said courts shall have jurisdiction of all criminal cases not
capital which shall arise in said counties respectively.
There shall be six terms of said courts in each year.
There shall be for each of said courts a prosecuting Attorney, who
shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate,
and who shall hold his office for four years. His compensation shall
be fixed by law.
All offenses triable in said Court shall be prosecuted upon
information under oath, to be filed by the prosecuting attorney, but
the grand jury of the Circuit Court for the county in which said
Criminal Court is held may indict for offenses triable in the Criminal
Court. Upon the finding of such indictment the Circuit Judge shall
commit or bail the accused for trial in the Criminal Court, which trial
shall be upon information.
The County Courts in counties where such Criminal Courts are
established shall have no criminal jurisdiction and no prosecuting
The Clerk of said Court shall be elected by the electors of the
county in which the Court is held and shall hold office for four years,
and his compensation shall be fixed by law. He shall also be Clerk
of the County Court. The Sheriff of the County shall be the
executive officer of said Court, and his duties and fees shall be
fixed by law.
The State Attorney residing in the county where such Court is held
shall be eligible for appointment as County Solicitor for said county.
Such courts may be abolished by the Legislature.
When the office of any Judge shall become vacant from any cause,
the successor to fill such vacancy shall be appointed or elected
only for the unexpired term of the Judge whose death, resignation,
retirement, or other cause created such vacancy.
The Legislature may establish in incorporated towns and cities,
courts for the punishment of offenses against municipal ordinances.
No courts other than those herein specified shall be established in
All judicial officers in this State shall be conservators of the peace.
The style of all process shall be "The State of Florida," and all
prosecutions shall be conducted in the name and by the authority of
The number of jurors for the trial of causes in any court may be
fixed by law but shall not be less than six in any case.
SUFFRAGE AND ELIGIBILITY.
Every male person of the age of twenty-one years and upwards,
that shall, at the time of registration, be a citizen of the United
States, or that shall have declared his intention to become such in
conformity to the laws of the United States, and that shall have
resided and had his habitation, domicile, home and place of
permanent abode in Florida for one year, and in the county for six
months, shall in such county be deemed a qualified elector at all
elections under this Constitution.
The Legislature, at its first session after the ratification of this
Constitution, shall provide by law for the registration of all the
legally qualified voters in each county, and for the returns of
elections; and shall also provide that after the completion, from time
to time, of such registration, no person not duly registered
according to law shall be allowed to vote.
Every elector shall at the time of his registration take and subscribe
to the following oath:
"I do solemnly swear or affirm that I will protect and
defend the Conltittiion of the United States and of the
State of Florida, that I am twenty-one years of age,
and have been a resident of the State of Florida for
twelve months and of this county for six months, and I
am qualified to vote under the Colntitution and laws
of the State ofFlorida. "
No person under guardianship, non compos mentis or insane shall
be qualified to vote at any election, nor shall any person convicted
of felony by a court of record be qualified to vote at any election
unless restored to civil rights.
The Legislature shall have power to, and shall, enact the necessary
laws to exclude from every office of honor, power, trust or profit,
civil or military, within the State, and from the right of suffrage, all
persons convicted of bribery, perjury, larceny, or of infamous crime,
or who shall make, or become directly or indirectly interested in,
any bet or wager, the result of which shall depend upon any
election; or that shall hereafter fight a duel or send or accept a
challenge to fight, or that shall be a second to either party, or that
shall be the bearer of such challenge or acceptance; but the legal
disability shall not accrue until after trial and conviction by due form
In all elections by the Legislature the vote shall be viva voce, and in
all elections by the people the vote shall be by ballot.
At any election at which a citizen or subject of any foreign country
shall offer to vote under the provisions of this Constitution, if
required by any elector, he shall produce to the persons lawfully
authorized to conduct and supervise such election a duly sealed
and certified copy of his declaration of intention, and if unable to do
so by reason that such copy cannot be obtained at the time of said
election, he shall be allowed to make affidavit before a proper
officer, setting forth the reason why he is unable to furnish such
certificate, and if said affidavit prove satisfactory to the inspectors
they shall allow said elector to cast his vote; and any naturalized
citizen offering to vote shall, if so required by any elector, produce
his certificate of naturalization or a duly certified copy thereof, and
in the event that said elector cannot produce the same, he shall be
allowed to make affidavit before a proper officer stating in full the
reason why it cannot be furnished, and if satisfactory to the
inspectors of said election such elector shall be allowed to vote.
The Legislature shall have power to make the payment of the
capitation tax a prerequisite for voting, and all such taxes received
shall go into the school fund.
The Legislature shall enact such laws as will preserve the purity of
the ballot given under this Constitution.
CENSUS AND APPORTIONMENT.
The Senators representing the odd numbered districts, as said
districts are now designated, whose terms have not expired, and
those Senators representing even numbered districts, to be elected
A. D. 1886, under the Constitution of 1868, shall be the first Senate
under this Constitution; and the members of the Assembly to be
elected A. D. 1886 shall be the first House of Representatives
under this Constitution, and the Senate and House of
Representatives thus constituted shall be the first Legislature under
this Constitution, and the terms of office of each of the said
Senators and members of the House of Representatives shall
expire at the election for Senators and members of the House of
Representatives A. D. 1888, and in that year a new Senate and
House of Representatives shall be elected.
The Legislatures that convene in the year 1889 and thereafter, shall
consist of not more than thirty-two members of the Senate, and of
not more than sixty-eight members of the House of
Representatives. The members of the House of Representatives
shall be elected for terms of two years, and the members of the
Senate shall be elected for terms of four years, except as hereafter
provided, the elections for members of the Senate and House of
Representatives to be held at the same time and places. The terms
of Senators elected in 1888 from districts designated by even
numbers, shall expire at the end of two years from that date, and
thereafter all Senators shall be elected for four years, so that one-
half of the whole number shall be elected biennially.
The Legislature that shall meet A. D. 1887, and those that shall
meet every ten years thereafter, shall apportion the representation
in the Senate, the whole number of Senators not to exceed thirty-
two members; and at the same time shall also apportion the
representation in the House of Representatives, the whole number
of Representatives not to exceed sixty-eight members. The
representation in the House of Representatives shall be
apportioned among the several counties as nearly as possible
according to population; Provided, Each county shall have one
representative at large in the House of Representatives, and no
county shall have more than three Representatives.
When any Senatorial District is 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. Any new
county that may be created shall be entitled to one member in the
House of Representatives until the next apportionment thereafter;
and shall be assigned when created to one of the adjoining
Senatorial Districts as shall be determined by the Legislature.
The Legislature shall provide for an enumeration of all the
inhabitants of the State by counties for the year 1895, and every
ten years thereafter.
COUNTIES AND CITIES.
The State shall be divided into political divisions to be called
The several counties as they now exist are hereby recognized as
the legal political divisions of the State.
The Legislature shall have power to establish new counties, and to
change county lines. Every newly established county shall be held
liable for its proportion of the then existing liabilities of the county or
counties from which it shall be formed, rated upon the basis of the
assessed value of the property, both real and personal, subject to
taxation within the territory taken from any county or counties; and
every county acquiring additional territory from another county shall
be held liable for its proportion of the liabilities of such other county
existing at the time of such acquisition, to be rated upon the basis
of the assessed value of all property subject to taxation within such
The Legislature shall have no power to remove the County Seat of
any county, but shall provide by general law for such removal;
Provided, That in the formation of new counties the County Seat
may be temporarily established by law.
There shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent
of the Senate, in and for each county, five County Commissioners.
Their terms of office shall be two years, and their powers, duties
and compensation shall be prescribed by law. The Legislature shall
provide for the division of each county into five districts, and one
County Commissioner shall be selected from each of such districts.
The Legislature shall provide for the election by the qualified
electors in each county of the following county officers: A Clerk of
the Circuit Court, a Sheriff, Constables, a County Assessor of
Taxes, a Tax Collector, a County Treasurer, a Superintendent of
Public Instruction, and a County Surveyor. The term of office of all
county officers mentioned in this section shall be four years, except
that of County Assessor of Taxes, County Tax collector and County
Treasurer, who shall be elected for two years. Their powers, duties
and compensation shall be prescribed by law.
The Legislature shall by law authorize the County Commissioners
of the several counties, where it is deemed necessary for
assessment purposes, to divide their respective counties into
taxation districts, and to appoint in and for each district an Assistant
Assessor of Taxes, whose powers, duties and compensation shall
be prescribed by law. All county officers, except Assistant
Assessors of Taxes, shall, before entering upon the duties of their
respective offices, be commissioned by the Governor; but no such
commission shall issue to any such officer until he shall have filed
with the Secretary of State a good and sufficient bond in such sum
and upon such conditions as the Legislature shall by law prescribe,
approved by the County Commissioners of the county in which
such officer resides, and by the Comptroller. No county officer shall
become security upon the official bond of any other county officer. If
any person elected or appointed to any county office shall fail to
give bond and qualify within sixty days after his election, the said
office shall become vacant.
The Legislature shall have power to establish and to abolish
municipalities, to provide for their government, to prescribe their
jurisdiction and powers, and to alter or amend the same at any
time. When any municipality shall be abolished, provision shall be
made for the protection of its creditors.
TAXATION AND FINANCE.
The Legislature shall provide for a uniform and equal rate of
taxation, and shall prescribe such regulations as shall secure a just
valuation of all property, both real and personal, excepting such
property as may be exempted by law for municipal, educational,
literary, scientific, religious or charitable purposes.
The Legislature shall provide for raising revenue sufficient to defray
the expenses of the State for each fiscal year, and also a sufficient
sum to pay the principal and interest of the existing indebtedness of
No tax shall be levied except in pursuance of law.
No money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of
appropriations made by law.
The Legislature shall authorize the several counties and
incorporated cities or towns in the State to assess and impose
taxes for county and municipal purposes, and for no other
purposes, and all property shall be taxed upon the principles
established for State taxation. But the cities and incorporated towns
shall make their own assessments for municipal purposes upon the
property within their limits. The Legislature may also provide for
levying a special capitation tax, and a tax on licenses. But the
capitation tax shall not exceed one dollar a year and shall be
applied exclusively to common school purposes.
The legislature shall have power to provide for issuing State bonds
only for the purpose of repelling invasion or suppressing
insurrection, or for the purpose of redeeming or refunding bonds
already issued, at a lower rate of interest.
No tax shall be levied for the benefit of any chartered company of
the State, nor for paying interest on any bonds issued by such
chartered companies, or by counties, or by corporations, for the
No person or corporation shall be relieved by any court from the
payment of any tax that may be illegal, or illegally or irregularly
assessed, until he or it shall have paid such portion of his or its
taxes as may be legal, and legally and regularly assessed.
There shall be exempt from taxation property to the value of two
hundred dollars to every widow that has a family dependent on her
for support, and to every person that has lost a limb or been
disabled in war or by misfortune.
The credit of the State shall not be pledged or loaned to any
individual, company, corporation or association; nor shall the State
become a joint owner or stockholder in any company, association
or corporation. The Legislature shall not authorize any county, city,
borough, township or incorporated district to become a stockholder
in any company, association or corporation, or to obtain or
appropriate money for, or to loan its credit to, any corporation,
association, institution or individual.
HOMESTEAD AND EXEMPTIONS.
A homestead to the extent of one hundred and sixty acres of land,
or the half of one acre within the limits of any incorporated city or
town, owned by the head of a family residing in this State, together
with one thousand dollars worth of personal property, and the
improvements on the real estate, shall be exempt from forced sale
under process of any court, and the real estate shall not be
alienable without the joint consent of husband and wife, when that
relation exists. But no property shall be exempt from sale for taxes
or assessments, or for the payment of obligations contracted for the
purchase of said property, or for the erection or repair of
improvements on the real estate exempted, or for house, field or
other labor performed on the same. The exemption herein provided
for in a city or town shall not extend to more improvements or
buildings than the residence and business house of the owner; and
no judgment or decree or execution shall be a lien upon exempted
property except as provided in this Article.
The exemptions provided for in Section 1 shall inure to the widow
and heirs of the party entitled to such exemption, and shall apply to
all debts, except as specified in said section.
The exemptions provided for in the Constitution of this State
adopted in 1868 shall apply as to all debts contracted and
judgments rendered since the adoption thereof and prior to the
adoption of this Constitution.
Nothing in this Article shall be construed to prevent the holder of a
homestead from alienating his or her homestead so exempted by
deed or mortgage duly executed by himself or herself, and by
husband and wife, if such relation exists; nor if the holder be
without children to prevent him or her from disposing of his or her
homestead by will in a manner prescribed by law.
No homestead provided for in Section 1 shall be reduced in area on
account of its being subsequently included within the limits of an
incorporated city or town, without the consent of the owner.
The Legislature shall enact such laws as may be necessary to
enforce the provisions of this Article.
MARRIED WOMEN'S PROPERTY.
All property, real and personal, of a wife owned by her before
marriage, or lawfully acquired afterward by gift, devise, bequest,
descent, or purchase, shall be her separate property, and the same
shall not be liable for the debts of her husband without her consent
given by some instrument in writing executed according to the law
respecting conveyances by married women.
A married woman's separate real or personal property may be
charged in equity and sold, or the uses, rents and profits thereof
sequestrated for the purchase money thereof; or for money or thing
due upon any agreement made by her in writing for the benefit of
her separate property; or for the price of any property purchased by
her, or for labor and material used with her knowledge or assent in
the construction of buildings, or repairs, or improvements upon her
property, or for agricultural or other labor bestowed thereon, with
her knowledge and consent.
The Legislature shall enact such laws as shall be necessary to
carry into effect this Article.
The Legislature shall provide for a uniform system of public free
schools, and shall provide for the liberal maintenance of the same.
There shall be a Superintendent of Public Instruction, whose duties
shall be prescribed by law, and whose term of office shall be four
years and until the election and qualification of his successor.
The Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State
Treasurer and State Superintendent of Public Instruction shall
constitute a body corporate, to be known as the State Board of
Education of Florida, of which the Governor shall be President, and
the Superintendent of Public Instruction Secretary. This Board shall
have power to remove any subordinate school officer for cause,
upon notice to the incumbent; and shall have the management and
investment of all State School Funds under such regulations as
may be prescribed by law, and such supervision of schools of
higher grades as the law shall provide.
The State School Fund, the interest of which shall be exclusively
applied to the support and maintenance of public free schools, shall
be derived from the following sources:
The proceeds of all lands that have been or may hereafter
be granted to the State by the United States for public school
Donations to the State when the purpose is not specified.
Appropriations by the State.
The proceeds of escheated property or forfeitures.
Twenty-five per cent. of the sales of public lands which are
now or may hereafter be owned by the State.
The principal of the State School Fund shall remain sacred and
A special tax of one mill on the dollar of all taxable property in the
State, in addition to the other means provided, shall be levied and
apportioned annually for the support and maintenance of public free
Provision shall be made by law for the distribution of the interest on
the State School Fund and the special tax among the several
counties of the State in proportion to the number of children
residing therein between the ages of six and twenty-one years.
Each county shall be required to assess and collect annually for the
support of public free schools therein, a tax of not less than three
mills nor more than five mills on the dollar of all taxable property in
The County School Fund shall consist, in addition to the tax
provided for in Section 8 of this Article, of the proportion of the
interest of the State School Fund and of the one mill State tax
apportioned to the county; the net proceeds of all fines collected
under the penal laws of the State within the county; all capitation
taxes collected within the county; and shall be disbursed by the
County Board of Public Instruction solely for the maintenance and
support of public free schools.
The Legislature may provide for the division of any county or
counties into convenient school districts; and for the election
biennially of three school trustees, who shall hold their office for two
years, and who shall have the supervision of all the schools within
the district; and for the levying and collection of a district school tax,
for the exclusive use of public free schools within the district,
whenever a majority of the qualified electors thereof that pay a tax
on real, or personal property shall vote in favor of such levy;
Provided, That any tax authorized by this section shall not exceed
three mills on the dollar in any one year on the taxable property of
Any incorporated town or city may constitute a School District. The
fund raised by Section 10 may be expended in the district where
levied for building or repairing school houses, for the purchase of
school libraries and textbooks, for salaries of teachers, or for other
educational purposes, so that the distribution among all the schools
of the district be equitable.
White and colored children shall not be taught in the same school,
but impartial provision shall be made for both.
No law shall be enacted authorizing the diversion or the lending of
any County or District School Funds, or the appropriation of any
part of the permanent or available school fund to any other than
school purposes; nor shall the same, or any part thereof, be
appropriated to or used for the support of any sectarian school.
The Legislature at its first session shall provide for the
establishment, maintenance and management of such Normal
Schools, not to exceed two, as the interests of public education
The compensation of all county school officers shall be paid from
the school fund of their respective counties, and all other county
officers receiving stated salaries shall be paid from the general
funds of their respective counties.
Institutions for the benefit of the insane, blind and deaf, and such
other benevolent institutions as the public good may require, shall
be fostered and supported by the State, subject to such regulations
as may be prescribed by law.
A State Prison shall be established and maintained in such manner
as may be prescribed by law. Provision may be made by law for the
establishment and maintenance of a house of refuge for juvenile
offenders; and the Legislature shall have power to establish a home
and work-house for common vagrants.
The respective counties of the State shall provide in the manner
prescribed by law for those of the inhabitants that, by reason of
age, infirmity or misfortune, may have claims upon the aid and
sympathy of society.
The first Legislature that convenes after the adoption of this
Constitution shall enact the necessary laws to carry into effect the
provisions of this Article.
All able-bodied male inhabitants of the State, between the ages of
eighteen and forty-five years, that are citizens of the United States,
or have declared their intention to become citizens thereof, shall
constitute the militia of the State; but no male citizen of whatever
religious creed or opinion shall be exempt from military duty except
upon such conditions as may be prescribed by law.
The Legislature may provide by law for organizing and disciplining
the Militia of the State, for the encouragement of volunteer corps,
the safe keeping of the public arms, and for a guard for the State
The Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, shall appoint
two Major Generals and four Brigadier Generals of Militia. They
shall take rank according to the dates of their commissions. The
officers and soldiers of the State Militia, when uniformed, shall wear
the uniform prescribed for the United States Army; Provided, That
volunteer companies may select their own uniforms.
The Governor shall have power to call out the Militia to preserve the
public peace, to execute the laws of the State, to suppress
insurrection, or to repel invasion.
The Legislature shall establish a State Board of Health and also
County Boards of Health in all counties where it may be necessary.
The State Board of Health shall have supervision of all matters
relating to public health, with such duties, powers and
responsibilities as may be prescribed by law.
The County Boards of Health shall have such powers and be under
the supervision of the State Board to such extent as the Legislature
The Seat of Government shall be at the City of Tallahassee, in the
county of Leon.
Each and every officer of this State, including the members of the
Legislature, shall before entering upon the discharge of his official
duties take the following oath of office:
I do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support,
protect, and defend the Conltitution and Government
of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I
am duly qualified to hold office under the Colnti ttion
of the State, and that I will well and faithfully perform
the duties of on which I am now
about to enter. So help me God.
The salary of each officer shall be payable quarterly upon his own
All county officers shall hold their respective offices, and keep their
official books and records, at the county seats of their counties; and
the Clerk and Sheriff shall either reside or have a sworn deputy
within two miles of the county seat.
The Legislature may provide for the donation of the public lands to
actual settlers, but such donation shall not exceed eighty acres to
any one person.
The Legislature shall provide for the speedy publication and
distribution of all laws it may enact. All decisions of the Supreme
Court and all laws and judicial decisions shall be free for publication
by any person. But no judgment of the Supreme Court shall take
effect until the opinion of the Court in such case shall be filed with
the Clerk of said Court.
The Legislature shall not create any office, the term of which shall
be longer than four years.
A plurality of votes given at an election of officers shall constitute a
choice when not otherwise provided by this Constitution.
In all criminal cases prosecuted in the name of the State, where the
defendant is insolvent or discharged, the State shall pay the legal
costs and expenses, including the fees of officers, under such
regulations as shall be prescribed by law.
The Governor, Supreme Court and all the administrative officers of
the Executive Department shall keep their offices at the Seat of
Government. But in case of invasion or violent epidemics the
Governor may direct that the offices of the Government be removed
temporarily to some other place. The sessions of the Legislature
may be adjourned for the same cause to some other place, but in
case of such removal all the Departments of the Government shall
be removed to one place. But such removal shall not continue
longer than the necessity for the same shall continue.
No extra compensation shall be made to any officer, agent,
employee, or contractor after the service shall have been rendered,
or the contract made; nor shall any money be appropriated or paid
on any claim, the subject matter of which shall not have been
provided for by pre-existing laws, unless such compensation or
claim be allowed by bill passed by two-thirds of the members
elected to each house of the Legislature.
The present Seal of the State shall be and remain the Seal of the
State of Florida; and the present State Emblem shall be and remain
the Emblem of the State of Florida.
The sureties upon the official bonds of all the State officers shall be
residents of, and have sufficient visible property unencumbered
within the State, not exempt from sale under legal process, to make
good their bonds; and the sureties upon the official bonds of all
county officers shall reside within the counties where such county
officers reside, and have sufficient visible property therein
unencumbered and not exempt from sale under legal process to
make good their bonds.
All State, County and Municipal officers shall continue in office after
the expiration of their official terms until their successors are duly
No person holding or exercising the functions of any office under
any foreign Government, under the Government of the United
States, or under any other State, shall hold any office of honor or
profit under the government of this State; and no person shall hold,
or perform the functions of, more than one office under the
government of this State at the same time; Provided, Notaries
Public, militia officers, county school officers and Commissioners of
Deeds may be elected or appointed to fill any legislative, executive
or judicial office.
The property of all corporations, except the property of a
corporation which shall construct a ship or barge canal across the
peninsula of Florida, if the Legislature should so enact, whether
heretofore or hereafter incorporated, shall be subject to taxation
unless such property be held and used exclusively for religious,
scientific, municipal, educational, literary or charitable purposes.
No person shall hold any office of trust or profit under the laws of
this State without devoting his personal attention to the duties of the
The Legislature shall provide for deductions from the salaries of
public officers who neglect the performance of any duty assigned
them by law.
No Convention nor Legislature of this State shall act upon any
amendment of the Constitution of the United States proposed by
Congress to the several States, unless such Convention or
Legislature shall have been elected after such amendment is
The Governor and every State officer are hereby prohibited from
giving certificates of election or other credentials to any person as
having been elected to the House of Representatives of the United
States Congress, or the United States Senate, who has not been
five years a citizen of the State and ten years a citizen of the United
States, and a qualified voter.
Deeds and mortgages which have been proved for record and
recorded according to law, shall be taken as prima facie
evidence in the courts of this State without requiring proof of the
execution. A certified copy of the record of any deed or mortgage
that has been or shall be duly recorded according to law shall be
admitted as prima facie
evidence thereof, and of its due execution with like effect as the
original duly proved; Provided, It be made to appear that the
original is not within the custody or control of the party offering such
The Legislature shall provide for giving to mechanics and laborers
an adequate lien on the subject matter of their labor.
No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house
without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war except in the
manner prescribed by law.
All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a
white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth
generation, inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.
The term felony, whenever it may occur in this Constitution or in the
laws of the State, shall be construed to mean any criminal offense
punishable with death or imprisonment in the State Penitentiary.
The Legislature may make provision for the proper adjustment and
settlement of the claim of the citizens of Ocala against the State for
certain aid given by the town of Ocala for the establishment of the
East Florida Seminary in 1852, and conditional upon its location at
the said town.
The Legislature shall appropriate at least five hundred dollars each
year for the purchase of such books for the Supreme Court Library
as the Court may direct.
The Legislature may provide for the drainage of the land of one
person over or through that of another, upon just compensation
therefore to the owner of the land over which such drainage is had.
No private property nor right of way shall be appropriated to the use
of any corporation or individual until full compensation therefore shall
be first made to the owner, or first secured to him by deposit of
money; which compensation, irrespective of any benefit from any
improvement proposed by such corporation or individual, shall be
ascertained by a jury of twelve men in a court of competent
jurisdiction, as shall be prescribed by law.
The Legislature is invested with full power to pass laws for the
correction of abuses and to prevent unjust discrimination and
excessive charges by persons and corporations engaged as
common carriers in transporting persons and property, or
performing other services of a public nature; and shall provide for
enforcing such laws by adequate penalties or forfeitures.
No railroad or other transportation company or common carrier in
this State shall grant a free pass, or discount the fare paid by the
public generally, to any member of the Legislature, or to any
salaried officer of this State, and the Legislature shall prohibit the
granting or receiving such free pass, or fare at a discount, by
Either branch of the Legislature, at a regular session thereof, may
propose amendments to this Constitution; and if the same be
agreed to by three-fifths of all the members elected to each House,
such proposed amendments shall be entered upon their respective
Journals with the yeas and nays, and published in one newspaper
in each county where a newspaper is published, for three months
immediately preceding the next general election of
Representatives, at which election the same shall be submitted to
the electors of the State, for approval or rejection. If a majority of
the electors voting upon the amendments at such election shall
adopt the amendments, the same shall become a part of the
Constitution. The proposed amendments shall be so submitted as
to enable the electors to vote on each amendment separately.
If at any time the Legislature, by a vote of two-thirds of all the
members of both Houses, shall determine that a revision of this
Constitution is necessary, such determination shall be entered
upon their respective Journals, with the yeas and nays thereon.
Notice of said action shall be published weekly in one newspaper in
every county in which a newspaper is published, for three months
preceding the next general election of Representatives, and in
those counties where no newspaper is published, notice shall be
given by posting at the several polling precincts in such counties for
six weeks next preceding said election. The electors at said
election may vote for or against the revision in question. If a
majority of the electors so voting be in favor of revision, the
Legislature chosen at such election shall provide by law for a
Convention to revise the Constitution, said Convention to be held
within six months after the passage of such law. The Convention
shall consist of a number equal to the membership of the House of
Representatives, and shall be apportioned among the several
counties in the same manner as members of said House.
The Constitution adopted A. D. 1868, with amendments thereto, is
declared to be superseded by this Constitution: But all rights,
actions, claims and contracts, both as respects individuals and
bodies corporate, shall continue to be as valid as if this Constitution
had not been adopted. And all fines, taxes, penalties and forfeitures
due and owing to the State of Florida under the Constitution of
1868, shall inure to the use of the State under this Constitution.
All laws now in force not inconsistent with this Constitution shall
continue in force until they shall expire by their own limitation, or be
repealed by the Legislature.
All persons holding any office or appointment at the ratification of
this Constitution shall continue in the exercise of the duties thereof,
according to their respective commissions or appointments, and
until their successors are duly qualified, unless by this Constitution
Nothing contained in this Constitution shall operate to vacate the
office of Lieutenant Governor until the expiration of his present
All vacancies occurring by limitation of terms before the general
election in 1888 shall be filled as provided for by law under the
Constitution of 1868.
The term of office for all appointees to fill vacancies in any of the
elective offices under this Constitution, shall extend only to the
election and qualification of a successor at the ensuing general
In all cases of elections to fill vacancies in office such election shall
be for the unexpired term.
Upon the ratification of this Constitution the Commissioner of Lands
and Immigration shall assume the office of Commissioner of
Agriculture, and his duties as such shall be prescribed by the first
Legislature assembled under this Constitution.
A general election shall be held in each county in this State on the
first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, A. D. 1888, and
every two years thereafter, for all elective State and county officers
whose terms of office are about to expire, or for any office that shall
have become vacant.
The first election for County Judge, Clerk of the Circuit Court,
Sheriff, Tax Assessor, Tax Collector, County Treasurer, County
Superintendent of Public Instruction, County Surveyor, Justices of
the Peace, Constables and all other elective County Officers shall
be at the general election in 1888.
It shall be the duty of the President of this Convention immediately
on its adjournment to certify to the Governor a copy of this
Upon receipt of such certified copy the Governor shall forthwith
announce the fact by proclamation, to be published in such
newspapers in this State as may be deemed requisite for general
information, and five printed copies of such Constitution shall be
transmitted by the Secretary of State to the Clerk of the Circuit
Court, and five to the County Judge of each county, which shall be
kept on file in their respective offices for examination by any person
desiring the same.
All Courts as now organized and constituted shall continue with
their jurisdiction until the Legislature shall conform to the
requirements of this Constitution the jurisdiction of such Courts as,
under this Constitution, are to exercise in whole or in part the
jurisdiction of Courts now organized.
The terms of office of all County Officers, unless otherwise
provided, shall commence on the first Tuesday after the first
Monday in January next after their election.
The Board of County Commissioners of each county in the State,
not oftener than once in every two years, upon the application of
one-fourth of the registered voters of any county, shall call and
provide for an election in the county in which application is made, to
decide whether the sale of intoxicating liquors, wines or beer shall
be prohibited therein, the question to be determined by a majority
vote of those voting at the election called under this section, which
election shall be conducted in the manner prescribed by law for
holding general elections; Provided, That intoxicating liquors, either
spirituous, vinous, or malt, shall not be sold in any election district
in which a majority vote was cast against the same at the said
election. Elections under this section shall be held within sixty days
from the time of presenting said application, but if any such election
should thereby take place within sixty days of any State or National
election, it shall be held within sixty days after any such State or
The Legislature shall provide necessary laws to carry out and
enforce the provisions of Section 1 of this Article.
ORDINANCE NO. 1.
This Constitution shall be submitted to the people of the State of
Florida for ratification on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in
November, A. D. 1886, and it shall require a majority of the votes
cast upon the question to determine its ratification or rejection.
At such election each qualified elector shall express his assent or
dissent, by having written or printed upon the ticket which he shall
vote the words, "For the Constitution," or "Against the Constitution;"
such election being subject to the same regulations and restrictions
as are now prescribed by law. And in case of its ratification by the
people, the Governor shall forthwith cause proclamation to be
made of the fact, and it shall go into effect on the first day of
January, A. D. 1887.
ORDINANCE NO. 2.
Article XIX shall be submitted to the people, when the Constitution
is submitted for ratification, to become a part of the Constitution, if
adopted by a majority of the votes cast upon the question, and the
ballots of those voting on this Article shall have written or printed on
them the words, "For Article XIX," or "Against Article XIX.
ORDINANCE NO. 3.
Be it Ordained by the People of Florida, Represented in
The pay of the members of this Constitutional Convention shall be
a per diem for attendance of six ($6.00) dollars a day in addition to
mileage of ten cents a mile, each way, from their places of
residence to the Capital and return, estimated by the shortest
The pay of the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Convention
and all the Clerks elected by the Convention shall be six ($6.00)
dollars per diem each, allowing the Secretary and Assistant
Secretary one day after adjournment to complete unfinished
business; all Committee Clerks shall receive five ($5.00) dollars per
diem for the number of days certified by the Chairman of the
Committee; the pay of the Sergeant-at-Arms shall be six ($6.00)
dollars per diem, and the Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms shall be five
($5.00) dollars per diem; the pay of the Messengers of the
Convention shall be four ($4.00) dollars per diem each; the pay of
the Door-Keeper shall be five ($5.00) dollars per diem; the pay of
Pages shall be three ($3.00) dollars per diem each; the pay of the
Janitor shall be two ($2.00) dollars per diem; the pay of the
Chaplain shall be one hundred dollars. The Recording Clerk shall
complete his work after the adjournment of the Convention, under
the supervision of the Secretary of State, and shall be paid for the
same fifty dollars when his work is completed. Eighteen dollars
shall be paid W. R. Carter for services as Assistant Secretary for
three days. Messrs. Dorr & Bowen shall be paid for printing
the amount approved by the Committee on Printing, certified by the
President and Secretary of the Convention.
The Comptroller is required to draw his warrant on the Treasurer in
favor of the officers and employees of this Convention for the full
amount allowed them by Section 2, and to each delegate of this
Convention for his pro rata share of the amount appropriated by the
Legislature, after deducting from said amount the amount due said
employees and all other expenses, including mileage of members,
incurred by this Convention.
The President is authorized on behalf of this Convention to issue
certificates signed by himself and countersigned by the Secretary,
to each of the members, payable to himself or his order, bearing
interest at the rate of eight per cent. per annum from date, for the
amount remaining due on account of the deficiency of the
Legislative appropriation for expenses of this Convention.
The Legislature shall make an appropriation at its next session to
pay said certificates.
Be it further ordained,
That the Secretary of this Convention be and he is hereby
authorized to audit the accounts of the members of all other
Done in open Convention, at Tallahassee, this 3d day of August, A.
D. Eighteen hundred and eighty-five, and of the independence of
the United States the one hundredth* and tenth year.
S. PASCO, President.
J. E. Yonge, First Vice-President.
Wm. H. Reynolds, Secretary Convention.
W. M. Bennett, A. D. McKinnon, James R. Challen, J. P. B.
Goodbread, Norman T. Scott, B. D. Wadsworth, Wm. A. Blount,
Joseph H. Humphries, A. E. Maxwell, Theodore Randell, E. M.
Randall, B. F. Oliveros, A. L. McCaskill, F. B. Genovar, W. H.
Milton, T. F. Swearingen, W. L. Hunter, S. B. Conover, Obadiah
Edge, M. M. Blackburn, J. G. Speer, Wm. N. Sheats, R. F. Taylor,
Jas. P. Coker, John Westcott, C. C. Wilson, L. W. Bethel, John
Neel, King Wylly, W. H. Hausman, William B. Randolph, Phillip
Walter, Jeremiah Fogarty, Jas. B. Stone, E. C. Love, Alexander
Bell, John Crews Pelot, Syd. L. Carter, John C. Richard, John W.
Malone, Joseph M. Tolbert, S. J. Turnbull, Lewis Wilson, Wallace
S. Jones, Wash M. Ives, R. C. Parkhill, James F. McClellan, Thos.
V. Gibbs, J. E. Yonge, E. C. F. Sanchez, George I. Davis, E. L.
Odom, W. T. Orman, H. C. Baker, Wm. F. Thompson, J. P.
Morgan, Hugh E. Miller, W. F. Green, Wm. R. Bush, Angus
Paterson, Robt. F. Rogers, John D. Broome, Henry C. Hicks, Henry
W. Chandler, Jas. Wood Davidson, J. D. Goss, William T. Weeks,
Thos. N. Bell, E. J. Lutterloh, Chas. W. Lewis, J. R. Herndon, H. L.
Parker, Wallace B. Carr, Paul Hatch, J. M. Landrum, W. B. Tedder,
B. J. Earle, Robert Henderson, Irving Gillis, L. D. Carson, Geo. P.
Fowler, A. L. Wellman, Jeff Alexis Hendley, Jno. Parsons, W. H.
Cook, A. S. Mann, John W. Tompkins, Alex Zipperer, Thos. E.
Clarke, H. H. Duncan, Hannibal Rowe, T. L. Clarke, Robert
Robinson, John F. Marshall, John B. Johnston, W. A. Hocker.