Constitution of 1868

Congress passed a series of laws known as the Reconstruction Acts in 1867. These laws required the former Confederate states to dissolve existing state governments, register all eligible men (white or African-American) to vote, and then hold conventions to create new state constitutions. To be readmitted to the United States, each state’s constitution had to accept the end of slavery and adopt the 14th amendment, which guaranteed equal rights for all men, regardless of race. Florida’s voters selected delegates to a state constitutional convention in November 1867. The convention met on January 20, 1868, and the new constitution was ratified by the voters the following May.

Constitution of 1868


until otherwise located by a majority vote of the Legislature, and by a majority vote of the people.

Declaration of Rights

Section 1. All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.

Section 2. All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security, and benefit of its 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 no power exists with the people of this State to dissolve its connection therewith.

Section 3. The right of trial by jury shall be secured to all and remain inviolate forever; but in all civil cases a jury trial may be waived by the parties in the manner to be prescribed by law.

Section 4. 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 the peace and safety of the State.

Section 5. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in case of invasion or rebellion, the public safety may require its suspension.

Section 6. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishment be inflicted, nor shall witnesses be unreasonably detained.

Section 7. All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, unless for capital offenses when the proof is evident, or the