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


Constitution be ratified by the People, and immediately after official information shall have been received that Congress have approved the Constitution, and provided for the admission of Florida, the President of this Convention shall issue writs of election to the proper officers in the different Counties, enjoining them to cause an election to be held for Governor, Representative in Congress, and Members of the General Assembly in each of their respective Counties. The election shall be held on the first Monday after the lapse of sixty days following the day of the date of the President's proclamation, and shall take place on the same day throughout the State. The said election shall be conducted according to the then existing election laws of the Territory of Florida: Provided, however that in case of the absence or disability of the President of the Convention, to cause the said election to be carried into effect, the Secretary of this Convention shall discharge the duties hereby imposed upon the President; and in case of the absence or disability of the Secretary, a committee consisting of five, to wit: Leigh Read, George T. Ward, James D. Westcott, Jr., Thomas Brown, and Leslie A. Thompson, or a majority of them, shall discharge the duties herein imposed on the Secretary of the Convention, and, the Members of the General Assembly, so elected, shall assemble on the fourth Monday thereafter, at the Seat of Government. The Governor, Representative in Congress, and Members of the General Assembly, shall enter upon the duties of their respective offices immediately after their election, under the provisions of this Constitution, and shall continue in office in the same manner, and during the same period, they would have done, had they been elected on the first Monday in October.

Section 6. The General Assembly shall have power by the votes of two-thirds of both Houses to accede to such propositions as may be made by the Congress of the United States, upon the admission of the State of Florida into the National confederacy and Union, if they shall be deemed reasonable and just, and to make declaration of such assent by law; and such declaration when made shall be binding upon the people and the State of Florida as a compact; and the Governor of the State of Florida, shall notify the President of the United States of the Acts of the General Assembly relating thereto; and in case of declining to accede to such propositions or any part thereof, the General Assembly shall instruct the Senators and Representative of the State of Florida in Congress, to procure such modification or alteration thereof as may be deemed reasonable and just, and assent thereto, subject to the ratification of the General Assembly by law as aforesaid.

Section 7. The Courts of this State shall never entertain jurisdiction of any grants of land, in the Floridas, made by the King of Spain, or by his authority, subsequent to the twenty-fourth day of January, eighteen hundred and eighteen, nor shall the said Courts receive as evidence, in any case, certain grants said to have been made by the said King of Spain, in favor of the Duke of Alagon, the Count Punon Rostro, and Don Pedro de Vargas, or any title derived from either of said Grants, unless with the express assent of the Congress of the United States.


Done in Convention, held in pursuance of an act of the Governor and Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, entitled, "An Act to call a Convention for the purpose of organizing a State Government," passed 30th day of January, 1838, and approved 2nd February, eighteen hundred and thirty-eight. In witness whereof, the undersigned, the President of said Convention and Delegates, representing the people of Florida, do hereunder sign our names, this the eleventh day of January, Anno Domini, eighteen hundred and thirty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the sixty-third year; and the Secretary of said Convention, doth countersign the same.


Walker Anderson, J. McCants, John L. McKinnon, John C. McGehee, Daniel G. McLean, Joseph B. Watts, Stephen J. Roche, William B. Hooker, E. Robbins, Wilson Brooks, Cosam Emir Bartlett, George E. McClellan, Thomas Baltzell, John F. Webb, Saml. C. Bellamy, John M. G. Hunter, Alfred L. Woodward, I. Garrison, Richard H. Long, E. K. White, R. C. Allen, A. W. Crichton, Banks Meacham, Oliver Wood, John W. Malone, Wm. Haddock, George T. Ward, Jose Simeon Sanchez, W. Wyatt, Edwin T. Jenckes, James D. Westcott, Jr., D. Levy, Leigh Read, W. H. Williams, A. Bellamy, William Marvin, John N. Partridge, J. B. Browne, William Bunce, Edmund Bird, E. Carrington Cabell, L. A. Thompson,

JOSHUA KNOWLES, Secretary of the Convention