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 the State of Florida in Convention assembled, That all suits heretofore commenced in any of the civil courts of this State during the war between the United States and the so-called Confederate Sates, and any and all judgments, orders, or decrees of said courts, rendered or entered up against any person or persons, any one of whom at the commencement of said suit, or during the pending thereof, was beyond the reach and jurisdiction of said courts by reason of the war between the United States and the so-called Confederate States, and hereby declared to be null and void, and of no effect whatever, and all writs, executions, and sales founded on said judgments are also hereby declared void; Provided, That nothing in this ordinance shall be construed to prevent the plaintiff in such cases from commencing their suits anew.
Passed in open Convention, February 21, A. D. 1868.
HORATIO JENKINS, JR., President.
SHERMAN CONANT, Secretary.