Constitution of 1838

In December 1838, delegates convened at St. Joseph to form Florida’s first state constitution. The convention completed its work in January 1839, although Florida was not officially admitted to the Union as a state until March 3, 1845.

Constitution of 1838


Section 1. The jurisdiction of the State of Florida shall extend over the Territories of East and West Florida, which, by the Treaty of Amity, Settlement and Limits, between the United States and his Catholic Majesty, on the 22nd day of February, A. D., 1819, were ceded to the United States.



Banks, and other Corporations.


Section 1. The General Assembly shall pass a general law for the incorporation of all such churches, and religious or other societies as may accept thereof; but no special act of incorporation thereof shall be passed.

Section 2. The General Assembly shall pass no act of incorporation, or make any alteration therein, 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 applied for.

Section 3. No Banking corporation shall be created or continue which is composed of a less number than twenty individuals, a majority of whom at least, shall be residents of the State; and no other corporation shall be created or continue composed of a less number than ten, of whom at least five shall be residents of this State.

Section 4. No Bank Charter, or any act of incorporation granting exclusive privileges, shall be granted for a longer period than twenty years, and no Bank Charter shall ever be extended or renewed.

Section 5. The Charters of Banks granted by the General Assembly shall restrict such Banks to the business of exchange, discount and deposit, and they shall not speculate or deal in real estate or the stock of other corporations or associations, or in merchandise or chattels, or be concerned in insurance, manufacturing, exportation or importation, except of bullion or specie; shall not act as Trustee in anywise; 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 pledged as further security, or received towards, or in satisfaction of previously contracted debts, or purchased at legal sales, to satisfy such debts, of which they shall be required to make sale within two years after the acquisition thereof.

Section 6. The capital stock of any Bank shall not be less than one hundred thousand dollars, and shall be created only by the actual payment of specie therein, and no Bank shall borrow money to create or add to its capital, or to conduct its business, and no loans shall be made on stock.

Section 7. All liabilities of such Banks shall be payable in specie, and the aggregate of the liabilities and issues of a Bank shall at no time exceed double the amount of its capital stock paid in.

Section 8. No Bank shall make a note or security of any kind for a smaller sum than five dollars, and the General Assembly may increase such restriction to twenty dollars.

Section 9. No dividends of 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.

Section 10. Stockholders in a bank, when an act of forfeiture of its Charter is committed, or when it is dissolved or expires, shall be individually and severally liable for the payment of all its debt, in proportion to the stock owned by each.

Section 11. 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 to the Governor of its state and condition, and the names of the stockholders, and shares held by each.

Section 12. Non user for the space of one year, or any act of a corporation, or those having the control and management thereof, or intrusted therewith inconsistent with or in violation of the provisions of this Constitution or of its charters, shall cause its forfeiture, and the General Assembly shall, by