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 Legislature shall provide for a uniform and equal rate of taxation, and shall prescribe such regulations as shall secure a just valuation of all property, both real and personal, excepting such property as may be exempted by law for municipal, educational, literary, scientific, religious or charitable purposes.

Section 2. The Legislature shall provide for raising revenue sufficient to defray the expenses of the State for each fiscal year, and also a sufficient sum to pay the principal and interest of the existing indebtedness of the State.

Section 3. No tax shall be levied except in pursuance of law.

Section 4. No money shall be drawn from the treasury except in pursuance of appropriations made by law.

Section 5. The Legislature shall authorize the several counties and incorporated cities or towns in the State to assess and impose taxes for county and municipal purposes, and for no other purposes, and all property shall be taxed upon the principles established for State taxation. But the cities and incorporated towns shall make their own assessments for municipal purposes upon the property within their limits. The Legislature may also provide for levying a special capitation tax, and a tax on licenses. But the capitation tax shall not exceed one dollar a year and shall be applied exclusively to common school purposes.

Section 6. The legislature shall have power to provide for issuing State bonds only for the purpose of repelling invasion or suppressing insurrection, or for the purpose of redeeming or refunding bonds already