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


(pre)ceding the election at which he shall offer to vote, shall in such county be deemed a qualified elector at all elections under this Constitution. Every elector shall at the time of his registration take and subscribe to the following oath:

I, __________, do solemnly swear that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States, and the Constitution and Government of the State of Florida, against all enemies, foreign or domestic; that I will bear true faith, loyalty, and allegiance to the same, any ordinances or resolution of any State Convention or Legislature to the contrary notwithstanding. So help me God.

Section 2. No person under guardianship noa compos mentis, or insane, shall be qualified to vote at any election, nor shall any person convicted of felony be qualified to vote at any election unless restored to civil rights.

Section 3. At any election at which a citizen or subject of any foreign country shall offer to vote, under the provisions of this Constitution, he shall present to the persons lawfully authorized to conduct and supervise such elections, a duly sealed and certified copy of his declaration of intention, otherwise he shall not be allowed to vote; and any naturalized citizen offering to vote, shall produce before said persons lawfully authorized to conduct and supervise the election, the certificate of naturalization, or a duly sealed and certified copy thereof; otherwise he shall not be permitted to vote.

Section 4. The Legislature shall have power and shall enact the necessary laws to exclude from every office of honor, power, trust, or profit, civil or military, within the State, and from the right of suffrage, all persons convicted of bribery, perjury, larceny, or of infamous crime, or who shall make or become, directly or indirectly, interested in any bet or wager, the result of which shall depend upon any election; or who shall hereafter fight a duel, or send or accept a challenge to fight, or who shall be a second to either party, or be the bearer of such challenge or acceptance; but the legal disability shall not accrue until after trial and conviction by due form of law.

Section 5. In all elections by the Legislature the vote shall be viva voce, and in all elections by the people the vote shall be by ballot.

Section 6. The Legislature, at its first session after the ratification of this Constitution, shall by law provide for the registration, by the Clerk of the Circuit Court in each county, of all the legally qualified