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


Section 25. All bills, bonds, notes, or evidences of debt, outstanding and unpaid, given for or in consideration of bonds or treasury notes of the so-called Confederate States, or notes and bonds of this State, paid and redeemable in the bonds or notes of the Confederate States, are hereby declared null and void, and no action shall be maintained thereon in the courts of this State.

Section 26. It shall be the duty of the courts to consider that there is a failure of consideration, and it shall be so held by the courts of this State, upon all deeds or bills of sale given for slaves, with covenant or warranty of title or soundness, or both upon all bills, bonds, notes, or other evidences of debt, given for or in consideration of slaves, which are now outstanding and unpaid, and no action shall be maintained thereon; and all judgments and decrees rendered in any of the courts of this State since the 10th day of January, A. D. 1861, upon all deeds or bills of sale, or upon any bond, bill, note, or other evidence of debt based upon the sale or purchase of slaves, are hereby declared set aside, and the plea of failure of consideration shall be held a good defense in all actions to said suit; and when money was due previous to the 10th day of January, A. D. 1861, and slaves were given in consideration for such money, these shall be deemed a failure of consideration for the debt; Provided, That settlements and compromises of such transactions made by the parties thereto shall be respected.

Section 27. All persons who, as alien enemies under the sequestration act of the so-called Confederate Congress, and now resident of the State, had property sequestered and sold by any person acting under a law of the so-called Confederate States, in the State of Florida, subsequent to the 10th day of January, A. D. 1861, and prior to the first day of May, A. D. 1865, shall be empowered to file a bill in equity in the Circuit Court of the State, and shall be entitled to obtain judgment against the State for all damages sustained by said sale and detention of property. The Court shall estimate the damages upon the assessed valuation of the property in question in the year A. D. 1860, with interest at six per cent. from the time the owner was deprived of the same. But all judgments against the State shall be paid only in certificates of indebtedness, redeemable in State lands. Said certificates shall be issued by the Governor, countersigned by the Secretary of State and by the Comptroller, upon the decree of the court. Oral testimony shall be sufficient to establish the fact of a sale having been made.

Section 28. There shall be no civil or political distinction in this State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, and the Legislature shall have no power to prohibit, by law, any class of persons on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude, to vote or hold any office, beyond the conditions prescribed by this Constitution.

Section 29. The apportionment for the Assembly shall be as follows: Escambia two, Santa Rosa one, Walton one, Holmes one, Washington one, Jackson three, Calhoun one, Gadsden two, Franklin one, Liberty one, Wakulla one, Leon four, Jefferson three, Madison two, Taylor one, Hamilton one, Suwannee one, Lafayette one, Alachua two, Columbia two, Baker one, Bradford one, Nassau one, Duval two, Clay one, St. Johns one, Putnam one, Marion two, Levy one, Volusia one, Orange one, Brevard one, Dade one, Hillsborough one, Hernando one, Sumter one, Polk one, Manatee one, and Monroe one. There shall be twenty-four Senatorial districts, which shall be as follows, and shall be known by their respective numbers, from one to twenty-four inclusive:

The first Senatorial District shall be composed of