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 Seat of Government shall be at the City of Tallahassee, in the county of Leon.

Section 2. Each and every officer of this State, including the members of the Legislature, shall before entering upon the discharge of his official duties take the following oath of office: I do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support, protect, and defend the Constitution and Government of the United States and of the State of Florida; that I am duly qualified to hold office under the Constitution of the State, and that I will well and faithfully perform the duties of _____________ on which I am now about to enter. So help me God.

Section 3. The salary of each officer shall be payable quarterly upon his own requisition.

Section 4. All county officers shall hold their respective offices, and keep their official books and records, at the county seats of their counties; and the Clerk and Sheriff shall either reside or have a sworn deputy within two miles of the county seat.

Section 5. The Legislature may provide for the donation of the public lands to actual settlers, but such donation shall not exceed eighty acres to any one person.

Section 6. The Legislature shall provide for the speedy publication and distribution of all laws it may enact. All decisions of the Supreme Court and all laws and judicial decisions shall be free for publication by any person. But no judgment of the Supreme Court shall take effect until the opinion of the Court in such case shall be filed with the Clerk of said Court.

Section 7. The Legislature shall not create any office, the term of which shall be longer than four years.

Section 8. A plurality of votes given at an election of officers shall constitute a choice when not otherwise provided by this Constitution.

Section 9. In all criminal cases prosecuted in the name of the State, where the defendant is insolvent or discharged, the State shall pay the legal costs and expenses, including the fees of officers, under such regulations as shall be prescribed by law.

Section 10. The Governor, Supreme Court and all the administrative officers of the Executive Department shall keep their offices at the Seat of Government. But in case of invasion or violent epidemics the Governor may direct that the offices of the Government be removed temporarily to some other place. The sessions of the Legislature may be adjourned for the same cause to some other place, but in case of such removal all the Departments of the