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 7. The oaths of officers directed to be taken under this Constitution, may be administered by any judge, or justice of the peace, of the Territory, or State of Florida until otherwise prescribed by law.



Schedule and Ordinance.


In order that no inconvenience may arise from the organization and establishment of the State Government, it is declared:

Section 1. That all laws and parts of laws, now in force, or which may be hereafter passed by the Governor and Legislative Council, of the Territory of Florida, not repugnant to the provisions of this Constitution, shall continue in force, until by operation of their provisions or limitations, the same shall cease to be in force, or until the General Assembly of this State shall alter or repeal the same; and all writs, actions, prosecutions, judgments, and contracts, shall be, and continue unimpaired, and all process which has heretofore issued, or which may be issued, prior to the last day of the first session of the General Assembly of this State, shall be as valid as if issued in the name of the State; and nothing in this Constitution shall impair the obligation of contracts, or violate vested rights, either of individuals or of associations, claiming to exercise corporate privileges in this State.

Section 2. All fines, penalties, forfeitures, obligations, and escheats, accruing to the Territory of Florida, shall accrue to the use of the State of Florida.

Section 3. All recognizances heretofore taken, or which may be taken before the organization of the Judicial Department under this Constitution, shall remain valid, and shall pass over to, and may be prosecuted in the name of the State; and all bonds, executed to the Governor of the Territory of Florida, or to any other officer in his official capacity, shall pass over to the Governor or other proper State authority, and to their successors in office for the uses therein respectively expressed, and may be sued for, and recovered accordingly; and all criminal prosecutions and penal actions, which have arisen, or which may arise before the organization of the Judicial Department under this Constitution, and which shall then be depending, may be prosecuted to judgment and execution in the name of the State.

Section 4. All officers, civil and military, now holding their offices and appointments in the Territory, under the authority of the United States, or under the authority of the Territory, shall continue to hold and exercise their respective offices and appointments until superseded under this constitution; and all actions at law, or suits in chancery, or any proceeding pending, or which may be pending, in any Court of the Territory of Florida, may be commenced in or transferred to such Court of the State as may have jurisdiction of the subject-matter thereof.

Section 5. This Constitution shall be submitted to the people for ratification at the election for Delegate on the first Monday of May next. Each qualified voter shall express his assent or dissent to the Constitution by directing the managers of said election to write opposite to his name on the poll-book, either the word "Constitution," or "No Constitution." And in case the time of election for Delegate be changed to any other day, than the first Monday of May next, then the Judges or Clerks of the County Courts respectively, shall appoint managers to hold an election on the said first Monday of May, for ratification of the Constitution, and said managers shall conduct said election in the manner provided by the laws of the Territory respecting elections, and make return of the result of such vote forthwith, by depositing the original poll-book in the Clerk's Office of their Counties respectively, and by transmitting a certificate of the result to the President of the Convention, who shall forthwith make Proclamation of the same; and in case the