Florida in the Civil War
Teacher’s Guide for Government Documents

Background Information

Ordinance of Secession

The Ordinance of Secession is the document by which Florida’s leaders signaled their decision to withdraw the state from the Union in 1861. It is notable for its simplicity; it makes clear Florida’s withdrawal but gives no explanation. Following a discussion of the events locally and nationally leading up to secession, students may enjoy debating why Florida’s secession convention chose to make the ordinance so simple.

1865 Constitution

The 1865 Constitution was the first constitution with which Florida attempted to re-enter the Union after the conclusion of the war. The document contains a number of stipulations designed to deny basic rights to the recently freed African-American citizens of the state, and it was rejected by the U.S. Congress. Florida would remain under federal control until 1868 when a more agreeable version of the constitution was submitted.

Students can find particularly striking anti-freedman provisions under Article XVI (16). Note that much of the earlier articles outline the structure of the government and are much less controversial.

Impressment Certificate

This is a certificate notifying Governor Milton that C.T. Taylor was empowered to conduct impressment single-handedly in Jefferson County in 1864.

Some Useful Questions to Ask:

  • Why would Article XVI have led the United States Congress to reject the Constitution of 1865?
  • How might have residents of Jefferson County reacted to impressment by the Florida government?

Use to Illustrate:

  • The role of Florida in the Civil War.
  • How reading primary source documents from different perspectives can help form a more complete picture of the Civil War.

Document Analysis Worksheets
Created by the National Archives

Document analysis is the first step in working with primary sources. Teach your students to think through primary source documents for contextual understanding and to extract information to make informed judgments. The document analysis worksheets created by the National Archives and Records Administration are in the public domain.

Sunshine State Standards

  • SS.4.A.1.1: Analyze primary and secondary resources to identify significant individuals and events throughout Florida history.
  • SS.4.A.5.1: Describe Florida's involvement (secession, blockades of ports, the battles of Ft. Pickens, Olustee, Ft. Brooke, Natural Bridge, food supply) in the Civil War.
  • SS.8.A.5.1: Explain the causes, course, and consequence of the Civil War (sectionalism, slavery, states' rights, balance of power in the Senate).
  • SS.8.A.5.3: Explain major domestic and international economic, military, political, and socio-cultural events of Abraham Lincoln's presidency. Examples may include, but are not limited to, sectionalism, states' rights, slavery, Civil War, attempts at foreign alliances, Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg Address, suspension of habeas corpus, First and Second Inaugural Addresses.
  • SS.8.A.5.5: Compare Union and Confederate strengths and weaknesses. Examples may include, but are not limited to, technology, resources, alliances, geography, military leaders-Lincoln, Davis, Grant, Lee, Jackson, Sherman.
  • SS.8.A.5.7: Examine key events and peoples in Florida history as each impacts this era of American history. Examples may include, but are not limited to, slavery, influential planters, Florida's secession and Confederate membership, women, children, pioneer environment, Union occupation, Battle of Olustee and role of 54th Massachusetts regiment, Battle at Natural Bridge.
  • SS.912.A.1.1: Describe the importance of historiography, which includes how historical knowledge is obtained and transmitted, when interpreting events in history.
  • SS.912.A.1.2: Utilize a variety of primary and secondary sources to identify author, historical significance, audience, and authenticity to understand a historical period.

Florida Standards

  • LAFS.4.RI.1.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • LAFS.4.RI.1.2: Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
  • LAFS.4.RI.1.3: Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
  • LAFS.4.RI.3.9: Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
  • LAFS.4.RI.1.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • LAFS.K12.R.1.1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • LAFS.68.RH.1.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • LAFS.68.RH.1.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • LAFS.910.RH.1.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
  • LAFS.910.RH.1.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
  • LAFS.1112.RH.1.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
  • LAFS.1112.RH.1.2: Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
  • LAFS.1112.RH.2.6: Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
  • LAFS.1112.RH.3.8: Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
  • LAFS.1112.RH.3.9: Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.