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 26. The Legislature may make provision for the proper adjustment and settlement of the claim of the citizens of Ocala against the State for certain aid given by the town of Ocala for the establishment of the East Florida Seminary in 1852, and conditional upon its location at the said town.

Section 27. The Legislature shall appropriate at least five hundred dollars each year for the purchase of such books for the Supreme Court Library as the Court may direct.

Section 28. The Legislature may provide for the drainage of the land of one person over or through that of another, upon just compensation therefor to the owner of the land over which such drainage is had.

Section 29. No private property nor right of way shall be appropriated to the use of any corporation or individual until full compensation therefor shall be first made to the owner, or first secured to him by deposit of money; which compensation, irrespective of any benefit from any improvement proposed by such corporation or individual, shall be ascertained by a jury of twelve men in a court of competent jurisdiction, as shall be prescribed by law.

Section 30. The Legislature is invested with full power to pass laws for the correction of abuses and to prevent unjust discrimination and excessive charges by persons and corporations engaged as common carriers in transporting persons and property, or performing other services of a public nature; and shall provide for enforcing such laws by adequate penalties or forfeitures.

Section 31. No railroad or other transportation company or common carrier in this State shall grant a free pass, or discount the fare paid by the public generally, to any member of the Legislature, or to any salaried officer of this State, and the Legislature shall prohibit the granting or receiving such free pass, or fare at a discount, by suitable penalties.