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 State shall be divided into political divisions to be called counties.

Section 2. The several counties as they now exist are hereby recognized as the legal political divisions of the State.

Section 3. The Legislature shall have power to establish new counties, and to change county lines. Every newly established county shall be held liable for its proportion of the then existing liabilities of the county or counties from which it shall be formed, rated upon the basis of the assessed value of the property, both real and personal, subject to taxation within the territory taken from any county or counties; and every county acquiring additional territory from another county shall be held liable for its proportion of the liabilities of such other county existing at the time of such acquisition, to be rated upon the basis of the assessed value of all property subject to taxation within such acquired territory.

Section 4. The Legislature shall have no power to remove the County Seat of any county, but shall provide by general law for such removal; Provided, That in the formation of new counties the County Seat may be temporarily established by law.

Section 5. There shall be appointed by the Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, in and for each county, five County Commissioners. Their terms of office shall be two years, and their powers, duties and compensation shall be prescribed by law. The Legislature shall provide for the division of each county into five districts, and one County Commissioner shall be selected from each of such districts.

Section 6. The Legislature shall provide for the election by the qualified electors in each county of the following county officers: A Clerk of the Circuit Court, a Sheriff, Constables, a County Assessor of Taxes, a Tax Collector, a County Treasurer, a Superintendent of Public Instruction, and a County Surveyor. The term of office of all county officers mentioned in this section shall be four years, except that of County Assessor of Taxes, County Tax collector and County Treasurer, who shall be elected for two