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.
Be it Ordained by the People of Florida in Convention assembled, That from and after the passage of this Ordinance it shall not be lawful for any sheriff or other officer of the State to sell, under execution or other legal process in the State, any property, real or personal, and any sale so made shall be null and void. That the collection of all taxes, State, county, and municipal, shall be suspended; that all persons now in confinement for the non-payment of taxes shall be forthwith released, and any State officer refusing to release such persons now in confinement shall be guilty of felony, and be subject to legal process and punishment therefore. That all constitutional provisions, ordinances, statutes, or parts of statutes, and all laws conflicting with the provision of this Ordinance, are hereby suspended; but nothing in this Ordinance shall be construed so as to prevent the return of property to its rightful owner upon legal process; Provided, That this Ordinance, or any provision therein, shall not prevent the collection of debts due or to become due as wages for actual labor performed by any house, field, or other laborer; that the Legislature shall be empowered to alter, amend, or abolish this Ordinance in its discretion.
Passed in open Convention, January 21, A. D. 1868.
HORATIO JENKINS, JR., President.
SHERMAN CONANT, Secretary.