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


The powers of the government of the State of Florida shall be divided into three departments: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial; and no person properly belonging to one of the departments shall exercise any functions appertaining to either of the others, except in those cases expressly provided for by this Constitution.


Legislative Department

Section 1. The legislative authority of this State shall be vested in a Senate and Assembly, which shall be designated "The Legislature of the State of Florida," and the sessions thereof shall be held at the seat of government of the State.

Section 2. The sessions of the Legislature shall be annual, the first session on the second Monday of June, A. D. 1868, and thereafter on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of January, commencing in the year A. D. 1869. The Governor may, in the interim, convene the same in extra session by his proclamation.

Section 3. The members of the Assembly shall be chosen biennially, those of the first Legislature on the first Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of May, A. D. 1868, and thereafter on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, commencing with the year A. D. 1870.

Section 4. Senators shall be chosen for the term of four years, at the same time and place as members of the Assembly; Provided, That the Senators elected at the first election from the senatorial districts designated by even numbers shall vacate their seats at the expiration of two years, and thereafter all senators shall be elected for the term of four years, so that one-half of the whole number shall be elected biennially.

Section 5. Senators and members of the Assembly shall be duly qualified electors in the respective counties and districts which they represent.

Section 6. Each house shall judge of the qualifications, elections, and returns of its own members; choose its own officers, except the President of the Senate; determine the rules of its proceedings; and may punish its members for disorderly conduct,