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.
Section 1. 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 exempted from forced sale under any process of law, 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 for the payment of obligations constructed for the purchase of said premises, or for the erection of improvements thereon, 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.
Section 2. In addition to the exemption provided for in the first section of this article, there shall be and remain exempt from sale by any legal process in this State, to the head of a family residing in this State, such property as he or she may select, to the amount of one thousand dollars; said exemption in this section shall only prevent the sale of property in cases where the debt was contracted, liability incurred, or judgment obtained before the 10th day of May, A. D. 1865. Nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to exempt any property from sale for the payment of the purchase money of the same, or for the payment of taxes or labor.
Section 3. The exemptions provided for in sections 1 and 2 of this article, shall accrue to the heirs of the party having enjoyed or taken the benefit of such exemption, and the exemption provided for in section 1 of this article shall apply to all debts, except as specified in said section, no matter when or where the debt was contracted, or liability incurred.