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 19. No Convention nor Legislature of this State shall act upon any amendment of the Constitution of the United States proposed by Congress to the several States, unless such Convention or Legislature shall have been elected after such amendment is submitted.

Section 20. The Governor and every State officer are hereby prohibited from giving certificates of election or other credentials to any person as having been elected to the House of Representatives of the United States Congress, or the United States Senate, who has not been five years a citizen of the State and ten years a citizen of the United States, and a qualified voter.

Section 21. Deeds and mortgages which have been proved for record and recorded according to law, shall be taken as prima facie evidence in the courts of this State without requiring proof of the execution. A certified copy of the record of any deed or mortgage that has been or shall be duly recorded according to law shall be admitted as prima facie evidence thereof, and of its due execution with like effect as the original duly proved; Provided, It be made to appear that the original is not within the custody or control of the party offering such copy.

Section 22. The Legislature shall provide for giving to mechanics and laborers an adequate lien on the subject matter of their labor.

Section 23. No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war except in the manner prescribed by law.

Section 24. All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation, inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited.

Section 25. The term felony, whenever it may occur in this Constitution or in the laws of the State, shall be construed to mean any criminal offense punishable with death or imprisonment in the State Penitentiary.