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 15. No person shall be imprisoned for debt, except in case of fraud.

Section 16. No bill of attainder, or ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligations of contracts, shall ever be passed.

Section 17. Foreigners who are or who may hereafter become bona fide residents of the State, shall enjoy the same rights in respect to the possession, enjoyment, and inheritance of property as native-born citizens.

Section 18. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this State.

Section 19. The rights of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable seizures and searches, shall not be violated; and no warrants issued but in probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, particularly describing the place or places to be searched, and the person or persons, and thing or things to be seized.

Section 20. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, adhering to its enemies, or giving them aid and comfort; and no person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or confession in open court.

Section 21. This State shall ever remain a member of the American Union, the people thereof a part of the American nation, and any attempt from whatever source, or upon whatever pretense, to dissolve said Union, or to sever said nation, shall be resisted with the whole power of the State.

Section 22. The people shall have the right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the lawful authority of the State.

Section 23. No preference can be given by law to any church, sect, or mode of worship.

Section 24. This enunciation of rights shall not be construed to impair or deny others retained by the people.



Distribution of Powers