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. All able-bodied male inhabitants of the State, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, that are citizens of the United States, or have declared their intention to become citizens thereof, shall constitute the militia of the State; but no male citizen of whatever religious creed or opinion shall be exempt from military duty except upon such conditions as may be prescribed by law.

Section 2. The Legislature may provide by law for organizing and disciplining the Militia of the State, for the encouragement of volunteer corps, the safe keeping of the public arms, and for a guard for the State Prison.

Section 3. The Governor, by and with the consent of the Senate, shall appoint two Major Generals and four Brigadier Generals of Militia. They shall take rank according to the dates of their commissions. The officers and soldiers of the State Militia, when uniformed, shall wear the uniform prescribed for the United States Army; Provided, That volunteer companies may select their own uniforms.

Section 4. The Governor shall have power to call out the Militia to preserve the public peace, to execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrection, or to repel invasion.