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


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Section 8. No person shall be tried for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, except in cases of impeachment, and in cases of the militia when in active service in time of war, or which the State may keep, with the consent of Congress, in time of peace, and in cases of petit larceny, under the regulation of the Legislature, unless on presentment and indictment by a grand jury; and in any trial, by any court, the party accused shall be allowed to appear and defend in person and with counsel, as in civil actions. No person shall be subject to be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense, nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken without just compensation.

Section 9. Every citizen may fully speak and write his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right, and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or the press. In all criminal prosecutions and civil actions for libel the truth may be given in evidence to the jury, and if it shall appear that the matter charged as libelous is true, but was published for good motives, the party shall be acquitted or exonerated.

Section 10. The people shall have the right to assemble together to consult for the common good, to instruct their representatives, and to petition the Legislature for redress or grievance.

Section 11. All laws of a general nature shall have a uniform operation.

Section 12. The military shall be subordinate to the civil power.

Section 13. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, except with the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, except in manner prescribed by law.

Section 14. Representation shall be apportioned according to population, as well as may be, but no county shall have more then four representatives, or less than one representative, in the Assembly.