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 The Constitution adopted A. D. 1868, with amendments thereto, is declared to be superseded by this Constitution: But all rights, actions, claims and contracts, both as respects individuals and bodies corporate, shall continue to be as valid as if this Constitution had not been adopted. And all fines, taxes, penalties and forfeitures due and owing to the State of Florida under the Constitution of 1868, shall inure to the use of the State under this Constitution.

Section 2. All laws now in force not inconsistent with this Constitution shall continue in force until they shall expire by their own limitation, or be repealed by the Legislature.

Section 3. All persons holding any office or appointment at the ratification of this Constitution shall continue in the exercise of the duties thereof, according to their respective commissions or appointments, and until their successors are duly qualified, unless by this Constitution otherwise provided.

Section 4. Nothing contained in this Constitution shall operate to vacate the office of Lieutenant Governor until the expiration of his present term.

Section 5. All vacancies occurring by limitation of terms before the general election in 1888 shall be filled as provided for by law under the Constitution of 1868.

Section 6. The term of office for all appointees to fill vacancies in any of the elective offices under this Constitution, shall extend only to the election and qualification of a successor at the ensuing general election.

Section 7. In all cases of elections to fill vacancies in office such election shall be for the unexpired term.

Section 8. Upon the ratification of this Constitution the Commissioner