Constitution of 1885

Delegates convened in June 1885 to revise Florida’s state constitution. The existing constitution had been in effect since 1868, when it was adopted as part of Florida’s reentry into the United States following the Civil War. The 1885 constitution legitimized poll taxes as a prerequisite for voting, which ultimately disproportionately disenfranchised African Americans and many poor whites.

Constitution of 1885




Section 1. The Supreme Executive power of the State shall be vested in a Chief Magistrate, who shall be styled the Governor of Florida.

Section 2. The Governor shall be elected by the qualified electors of the State at the time and places of voting for members of the Legislature, and shall hold his office for four years from the time of his installation, but shall not be eligible for re-election to said office the next succeeding term; Provided, That the first election for Governor under this Constitution shall be had at the time and places of voting for members of the Legislature and State officers, A. D. 1888, and the term of office of the Governor then elected shall begin on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January after his election.

Section 3. No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor who is not a qualified elector, and who has not been ten years a citizen of the United States, and five years a citizen and resident of the State of Florida, next preceding the time of his election; Provided, That these limitations of time shall not apply to the President of the Senate or Speaker of the House of Representatives when, under this Constitution, the powers and duties of Governor shall devolve upon them.

Section 4. The Governor shall be Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the State, except when they shall be called into the service of the United States.

Section 5. The Governor shall transact all Executive business with the officers of the Government, civil and military, and may require information in writing from the administrative officers of the Executive Department upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.

Section 6. The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Section 7. When any office, from any cause, shall become vacant, and no mode is provided by this Constitution or by the laws of the State for filling such vacancy, the Governor shall have the power to fill such va-(cancy)