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 system of public free schools, and shall provide for the liberal maintenance of the same.

Section 2. There shall be a Superintendent of Public Instruction, whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and whose term of office shall be four years and until the election and qualification of his successor.

Section 3. The Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and State Superintendent of Public Instruction shall constitute a body corporate, to be known as the State Board of Education of Florida, of which the Governor shall be President, and the Superintendent of Public Instruction Secretary. This Board shall have power to remove any subordinate school officer for cause, upon notice to the incumbent; and shall have the management and investment of all State School Funds under such regulations as may be prescribed by law, and such supervision of schools of higher grades as the law shall provide.

Section 4. The State School Fund, the interest of which shall be exclusively applied to the support and maintenance of public free schools, shall be derived from the following sources:

The proceeds of all lands that have been or may hereafter be granted to the State by the United States for public school purposes.

Donations to the State when the purpose is not specified.

Appropriations by the State.

The proceeds of escheated property or forfeitures.

Twenty-five per cent. of the sales of public lands which are now or may hereafter be owned by the State.

Section 5. The principal of the State School Fund shall remain sacred and inviolate.

Section 6. A special tax of one mill on the dollar of all taxable property in the State, in addition to the other means provided, shall be levied