Constitution of 1838:
FORM OF GOVERNMENT,
PEOPLE OF FLORIDA.
We, the People of the Territory of Florida, by our Delegates in Convention, assembled at the
City of St. Joseph, on Monday the 3d day of December, A.D. 1838, and of the Independence of the
United States the sixty-third year, having and claiming the right of admission into the Union, as one
of the United States of America, consistent with the principles of the Federal Constitution, and by
virtue of the Treaty of Amity, Settlement, and Limits between the United States of America and the
King of Spain, ceding the Provinces of East and West Florida to the United States; in order to secure
to ourselves and our posterity the enjoyment of all the rights of life, liberty, and property, and the
pursuit of happiness, do mutually agree, each with the other, to form ourselves into a Free and
Independent State, by the name of the State of Florida.
Declaration of Rights.
That the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and
established, we declare:
Section 1. That all freemen, when they form a social compact, are equal; and have certain
inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; of
acquiring, possessing, and protecting property and reputation; and of pursuing their own happiness.
Section 2. That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded
on their authority, and established for their benefit; and, therefore, they have, at all times, an
inalienable and indefeasible right to alter or abolish their form of government, in such manner as they
may deem expedient.
Section 3. That all men have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according
to the dictates of their own conscience; and that no preference shall ever be given by law to any
religious establishment, or mode of worship in this State.
Section 4. That all elections shall be free and equal; and that no property qualification for
eligibility to office, or for the right of suffrage, shall ever be required in this State.
Section 5. That every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects,
being responsible for the abuse of that liberty; and no law shall ever be passed to curtail, abridge, or
restrain the liberty of speech or of the press.
Section 6. That the right of trial by jury shall forever remain inviolate.
Section 7. That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions from
unreasonable seizures and searches; and that no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person
or thing, shall issue without describing the place to be searched, and the person or thing to be seized,
as nearly as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.
Section 8. That no freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, or disseized of his freehold, liberties, or
outlawed or exiled, or in any manner destroyed or deprived of his life, liberty, or property, but by the
law of the land.
Section 9. That all Courts shall be open, and every person, for an injury done him, in his lands,
goods, person, or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law; and right and justice
administered without sale, denial, or delay.
Section 10. That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath a right to be heard by himself or
counsel, or both; to demand the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the
witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and in all
prosecutions by indictment or presentment a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the
County or District, where the offense was committed; and shall not be compelled to give evidence
Section 11. That all persons shall be bailable, by sufficient securities, unless in capital offenses,
where the proof is evident, or the presumption is strong; and the privilege of habeas corpus shall not
be suspended, unless when, in case of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.
Section 12. That excessive bail shall in no case be required; nor shall excessive fines be imposed;
nor shall cruel or unusual punishments be inflicted.
Section 13. That no person shall, for the same offense, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.
Section 14. That private property shall not be taken or applied to public use, unless just
compensation be made therefor.
Section 15. That in all prosecutions and indictments for libel, the truth may be given in evidence;
and if it shall appear to the jury that the libel is true, and published with good motives and for
justifiable ends, the truth shall be a justification; and the jury shall be the judges of the law and facts.
Section 16. That no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge, but by presentment,
indictment or impeachment.
Section 17. That no conviction shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture of estate.
Section 18. That retrospective laws, punishing acts committed before the existence of such laws,
and by them only declared penal, or criminal, are oppressive, unjust, and incompatible with liberty;
wherefore, no ex post facto law shall ever be made.
Section 19. That no law impairing the obligation of contracts shall ever be passed.
Section 20. That the people have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together to consult
for the common good; and to apply to those invested with the powers of government, for redress of
grievances, or other proper purposes, by petition, address, or remonstrance.
Section 21. That the free white men of this State shall have the right to keep and to bear arms, for
their common defense.
Section 22. That no soldier in time of peace, shall be quartered in any house without the consent
of the owner; nor in time of war but in a manner prescribed by law.
Section 23. That no standing army shall be kept up without the consent of the Legislature: and the
military shall in all cases and at all times, be in strict subordination to the civil power.
Section 24. That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free State, and ought
not to be allowed.
Section 25. That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors, shall ever be granted or
conferred in this State.
Section 26. That frequent recurrence to fundamental principles, is absolutely necessary to preserve
the blessings of liberty.
Section 27. That to guard against transgressions upon the rights of the people, we declare that
every thing in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever
remain inviolate; and that all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.
Distribution of the Powers of Government.
Section 1. The powers of the Government of the State of Florida, shall be divided into three
distinct departments, and each of them confided to a separate body of Magistracy, to wit: Those
which are Legislative to one; those which are Executive to another; and those which are Judicial to
Section 2. No person, or collection of persons, being one of those departments, shall exercise any
power properly belonging to either of the others, except in the instances expressly provided in this
Section 1. The Supreme Executive Power shall be vested in a Chief Magistrate, who shall be
styled the Governor of the State of Florida.
Section 2. The Governor shall be elected for four years, by the qualified electors, at the time and
place where they shall vote for Representatives, and shall remain in office until a successor be chosen
and qualified, and shall not be eligible to re-election until the expiration of four years thereafter.
Section 3. No person shall be eligible to the office of Governor unless he shall have attained the
age of thirty years, shall have been a citizen of the United States ten years, or an inhabitant of Florida
at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, (being a citizen of the United States,) and shall have
been a resident of Florida at least five years next preceding the day of election.
Section 4. The returns of every election for Governor shall be sealed up and transmitted to the
seat of Government, directed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shall, during the
first week of the session, open and publish them in the presence of both Houses of the General
Assembly, and the person having the highest number of votes, shall be Governor; but if two or more
shall be equal and highest in votes, one of them shall be chosen Governor by the joint vote of the two
Houses; and contested elections for Governor shall be determined by both Houses of the General
Assembly, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.
Section 5. He shall, at stated times, receive a compensation for his services, which shall not be
increased or diminished during the term for which he shall have been elected.
Section 6. He shall be Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of this State, and of the Militia
Section 7. He may require information in writing from the officers of the Executive Departments,
on any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices.
Section 8. He may, by proclamation, on extraordinary occasions, convene the General Assembly
at the seat of Government, or at a different place, if that shall have become dangerous from an enemy,
or from disease; and in case of disagreement between the two Houses with respect to the time of
adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper, not beyond the day of the
next meeting designated by this Constitution.
Section 9. He shall, from time to time, give to the General Assembly information of the State of
the Government, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he may deem expedient.
Section 10. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
Section 11. In all criminal and penal cases, (except of treason and impeachment,) after conviction,
he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures under such rules
and regulations as shall be prescribed by law; and in cases of treason, he shall have power, by and
with the advice and consent of the Senate, to grant reprieves and pardons; and he may, in the recess
of the Senate, respite the sentence until the end of the next session of the General Assembly.
Section 12. There shall be a seal of the State, which shall be kept by the Governor, and used by
him officially, with such device as the Governor first elected may direct, and the present seal of the
Territory shall be the seal of the State until otherwise directed by the General Assembly.
Section 13. All commissions shall be in the name, and by the authority of the State of Florida, be
sealed with the State seal, and signed by the Governor, and attested by the Secretary of State.
Section 14. There shall be a Secretary of State appointed by joint vote of both Houses of the
General Assembly, who shall continue in office during the term of four years; and he shall keep a fair
register of the official acts and proceedings of the Governor, and shall, when required, lay the same
and all papers, minutes, and vouchers, relative thereto, before the General Assembly, and shall
perform such other duties as may be required of him by law.
Section 15. Vacancies that happen in offices, the appointment to which is vested in the General
Assembly, or given to the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall be filled by the
Governor during the recess of the General Assembly, by granting commissions, which shall expire
at the end of the next session.
Section 16. Every bill, which shall have passed both Houses of the General Assembly, shall be
presented to the Governor; if he approve, he shall sign it; but if not, he shall return it with his
objections to the House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large upon
the journals, and proceed to re-consider it; and if, after such re-consideration, a majority of the whole
number elected to that House, shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent with the objections to the
other House, by which it shall likewise be re-considered; and if approved by a majority of the whole
number elected to that House, it shall become a law; but in such cases, the votes of both Houses shall
be by yeas and nays, and the names of the members voting for, or against the bill, shall be entered on
the journals of each House respectively; and if any bill shall not be returned by the Governor, within
five days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him the same shall be a law in like
manner, as if he had signed it; unless the General Assembly by their adjournment, prevent its return,
in which case, it shall not be a law.
Section 17. Every order, resolution, or vote, to which concurrence of both Houses may be
necessary, except on questions of adjournment, shall be presented to the Governor; and before it shall
take effect, be approved by him, or being disapproved, be re-passed by both Houses, according to
the rules and limitations prescribed in case of a bill.
Section 18. In case of the impeachment of the Governor, his removal from office, death, refusal
to qualify, resignation, or absence from the State, the President of the Senate shall exercise all the
power and authority appertaining to the office of Governor, during the term for which the Governor
was elected; unless the General Assembly shall provide by law for the election of a Governor to fill
such vacancy; or, until the Governor absent, or impeached, shall return, or be acquitted.
Section 19. If during the vacancy of the office of Governor, the President of the Senate shall be
impeached, removed from office, refuse to qualify, resign, die, or be absent from the State, the
Speaker of the House of Representatives shall in like manner, administer the Government.
Section 20. The President of the Senate, or Speaker of the House of Representatives, during the
time he administers the Government, shall receive the same compensation which the Governor would
Section 21. The Governor shall always reside, during the sessions of the General Assembly, at the
place where their sessions are held, and at all other times wherever, in their opinion, the public good
Section 22. No person shall hold the office of Governor, and any other office or commission, civil
or military, either in this State, or under any State, or the United States, or any other power, at one
and the same time, except the President of the Senate, or the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, when he shall hold the office, as aforesaid.
Section 23. A State Treasurer, and Comptroller of Public Accounts, shall be elected by joint vote
of both Houses of the General Assembly, at each regular session thereof.
Section 1. The Legislative power of this State shall be vested in two distinct branches, the one
to be styled the Senate, the other the House of Representatives, and both together, "The General
Assembly of the State of Florida," and the style of all the laws shall be "Be it enacted by the Senate
and House of Representatives of the State of Florida in General Assembly convened."
Section 2. The members of the House of Representatives shall be chosen by the qualified voters,
and shall serve for the term of one year from the day of the commencement of the general election
and no longer, and the sessions of the General Assembly shall be annual, and commence on the fourth
Monday in November in each year, or at such other time, as may be prescribed by law.
Section 3. The Representatives shall be chosen every year, on the first Monday in the Month of
October, until otherwise directed by law.
Section 4. No person shall be a representative, unless he be a white man, a citizen of the United
States, and shall have been an inhabitant of the State, two years next preceding his election, and the
last year thereof a resident of the county for which he shall be chosen, and shall have attained the age
of twenty-one years.
Section 5. The Senators shall be chosen by the qualified electors, for the term of two years, at
the same time, in the same manner, and in the same places where they vote for members of the House
of Representatives; and no man shall be a Senator, unless he be a white man, a citizen of the United
States, and shall have been an inhabitant of this State, two years next preceding his election, and the
last year thereof, a resident of the District or County for which he shall be chosen, and shall have
attained the age of twenty-five years.
Section 6. The Senators after their first election, shall be divided by lot, into two classes, and the
seats of the Senators of the first class, shall be vacated at the expiration of the first year, and of the
second class, shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, so that one half thereof, as near
as possible, may be chosen for ever thereafter, annually, for the term of two years.
Section 7. The House of Representatives, when assembled, shall choose a Speaker and its other
officers, and the Senate a President and its other officers, and each House shall be judge of the
qualifications, elections, and returns of its members; but a contested election shall be determined in
such manner as shall be directed by law.
Section 8. A majority of each House shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller
number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such
manner and under such penalties as each House may prescribe.
Section 9. Each House may determine the rules of its own proceedings, punish its members for
disorderly behavior, and with the consent of two-thirds, expel a member, but not a second time for
the same cause.
Section 10. Each House, during the session, may punish by imprisonment any person, not a
member, for disrespectful or disorderly behavior in its presence, or for obstructing any of its
proceedings, provided such imprisonment shall not extend beyond the end of the session.
Section 11. Each House shall keep a Journal of its proceedings, and cause the same to be
published immediately after its adjournment, and the yeas and nays of the members of each House
shall be taken and entered upon the journals upon the final passage of every bill, and may, by any two
members, be required upon any other question, and any member of either House shall have liberty to
dissent from or protest against any act or resolution which he may think injurious to the public or an
individual, and have the reasons of his dissent entered on the journal.
Section 12. Senators and Representatives shall in all cases, except treason, felony or breach of the
peace, be privileged from arrest during the session of the General Assembly, and in going to or
returning from the same, allowing one day for every twenty miles such member may reside from the
place at which the General Assembly is convened, and for any speech or debate in either House they
shall not be questioned in any other place.
Section 13. The General Assembly shall make provision by law for filling vacancies that may occur
in either House by the death, resignation, (or otherwise,) of any of its members.
Section 14. The doors of each House shall be open, except on such occasions as, in the opinion
of the House, the public safety may imperiously require secrecy.
Section 15. Neither House shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three
days, nor to any other place than that in which they may be sitting.
Section 16. Bills may originate in either House of the General Assembly, and all bills passed by
one House may be discussed, amended, or rejected by the other, but no bill shall have the force of law
until on three several days it be read in each House, and free discussion be allowed thereon, unless
in cases of urgency four-fifths of the House in which the same shall be depending may deem it
expedient to dispense with the rule; and every bill having passed both Houses shall be signed by the
Speaker and President of their respective Houses.
Section 17. Each member of the General Assembly shall receive from the public Treasury such
compensation for his services as may be fixed by law, but no increase of compensation shall take
effect during the term for which the Representatives were elected when such law passed.
Section 18. The number of members of the House of Representatives shall never exceed sixty.
Section 1. The Judicial power of this State, both as to matters of law and equity, shall be vested
in a Supreme Court, Courts of Chancery, Circuit Courts and Justices of the Peace, provided the
General Assembly may also vest such criminal jurisdiction as may be deemed necessary in
Corporation Courts, but such jurisdiction shall not extend to capital offenses.
Section 2. The Supreme Court, except in cases otherwise directed in this Constitution, shall have
appellate jurisdiction only, which shall be co-extensive with the State, under such restrictions and
regulations, not repugnant to this Constitution, as may from time to time be prescribed by law,
provided that the said Court shall always have power to issue writs of injunction, mandamus, quo
warranto, habeas corpus, and such other remedial and original writs as may be necessary to give it
a general superintendence and control of all other Courts.
Section 3. For the term of five years from the election of the Judges of the Circuit Courts, and
thereafter until the General Assembly shall otherwise provide, the powers of the Supreme Court shall
be vested in, and its duties performed by the Judges of the several Circuit Courts within this State,
and they, or a majority of them shall hold such sessions of the Supreme Court, and at such times as
may be directed by law.
Section 4. The Supreme Court, when organized, shall be holden at such times and places as may
be provided by law.
Section 5. The State shall be divided into at least four convenient Circuits, and until other
Circuits shall be provided for by the General Assembly, the arrangement of the Circuits shall be the
Western, Middle, Eastern and Southern Circuits, and for each Circuit there shall be appointed a
Judge, who shall after his appointment, reside in the Circuit for which he has been appointed, and
shall, at stated times, receive for his services a salary of not less than two thousand dollars per annum,
which shall not be diminished during the continuance of such Judge in office; but the Judges shall
receive no fees or perquisites of office, nor hold any other office of profit under the State, the United
States, or of any other power.
Section 6. The Circuit Courts shall have original jurisdiction in all matters, civil and criminal,
within this State, not otherwise excepted in this Constitution.
Section 7. A Circuit Court shall be held in such Counties, and at such times and places therein,
as may be prescribed by law, and the Judges of the several Circuit Courts may hold Courts for each
other, and shall do so when directed by law.
Section 8. The General Assembly shall have power to establish and organize a separate Court
or Courts of original equity jurisdiction; but until such Court or Courts shall be established and
organized, the Circuit Courts shall exercise such jurisdiction.
Section 9. The General Assembly shall provide by law for the appointment, in each County, of
an officer to take probate of wills, to grant letters testamentary of administration and guardianship;
to attend to the settlement of the estates of decedents and of minors, and to discharge the duties
usually appertaining to Courts of Ordinary, subject to the direction and supervision of the Courts of
Chancery, as may be provided by law.
Section 10. A competent number of Justices of the Peace shall be, from time to time, appointed
or elected in and for each County, in such mode, and for such term of office, as the General Assembly
may direct; and shall possess such jurisdiction as may be prescribed by law; and in cases tried before
a Justice of the Peace, the right of appeal shall be secured under such rules and regulations as may
be prescribed by law.
Section 11. Justices of the Supreme Court, Chancellors, and Judges of the Circuit Courts, shall
be elected by the concurrent vote of a majority of both Houses of the General Assembly.
Section 12. The Judges of the Circuit Courts, shall, at the first session of the General Assembly
to be holden under this Constitution, be elected for the term of five years, and shall hold their offices
for that term, unless sooner removed under the provisions made in this Constitution for removal of
Judges by address or impeachment; and at the expiration of five years, the Justices of the Supreme
Court and the Judges of the Circuit Courts, shall be elected for the term of and during their good
behavior; and for wilful neglect of duty, or other reasonable cause, which shall not be sufficient
ground for impeachment, the Governor shall remove any of them, on the address of two-thirds of
each House of the General Assembly; provided, however, that the cause or causes shall be stated at
length in such address, and entered on the journals of each House; and provided further, that the
cause or causes shall be notified to the Judge so intended to be removed, and he shall be admitted to
a hearing in his own defense, before any vote for such address shall pass; and in such cases, the vote
shall be taken by yeas and nays, and entered on the journals of each House respectively.
Section 13. The Clerk of the Supreme Court and the Clerks of the Courts of Chancery, shall be
elected by the General Assembly; and the Clerks of the Circuit Courts shall be elected by the qualified
electors, in such mode as may be prescribed by law.
Section 14. The Justices of the Supreme Court, Chancellors, and Judges of the Circuit Courts,
shall, by virtue of their offices, be conservators of the peace throughout the State; and Justices of the
Peace in their respective Counties.
Section 15. The style of all process shall be "the State of Florida," and all criminal prosecutions
shall be carried on in the name of the State of Florida, and all indictments shall conclude, "against the
peace and dignity of the same."
Section 16. There shall be an Attorney General for the State, who shall reside at the Seat of
Government. It shall be his duty to attend all sessions of the General Assembly, and upon the passage
of any act, to draft and submit to the General Assembly, at the same session, all necessary forms of
proceedings under such laws, which, when approved, shall be published therewith, and he shall
perform such other duties at may be prescribed by law. He shall be elected by joint vote of the two
Houses of the General Assembly, and shall hold his office for four years; but may be removed by the
Governor, on the address of two-thirds of the two Houses of the General Assembly, and shall receive
for his services a compensation to be fixed by law.
Section 17. There shall be one Solicitor for each Circuit, who shall reside therein, to be elected
by the joint vote of the General Assembly, who shall hold his office for the term of four years; and
shall receive for his services a compensation to be fixed by law.
Section 18. No Justice of the Supreme Court shall sit as Judge or take part in the Appellate Court
on the trial or hearing of any case which shall have been decided by him in the Court below.
Section 19. The General Assembly shall have power to establish in each County, a Board of
Commissioners for the regulation of the County business therein.
Section 20. No duty not Judicial shall be imposed by law upon the Justices of the Supreme Court,
Chancellors, or the Judges of the Circuit Courts of this State.
The Right of Suffrage and Qualifications of Officers; Civil Offices; and Impeachments, and
Removals from Office.
Section 1. Every free white male person of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, and who
shall be at the time of offering to vote a citizen of the United States; and who shall have resided, and
had his habitation, domicil, home, and place of permanent abode in Florida for two years next
preceding the election at which he shall offer to vote; and who shall have at such time, and for six
months immediately preceding said time, shall have had his habitation, domicil, home, and place of
permanent abode in the County in which he may offer to vote, and who shall be enrolled in the Militia
thereof, (unless by law exempted from serving in the Militia,) shall be deemed a qualified elector at
all elections under this Constitution, and none others; except in elections by general ticket in the State
or District prescribed by law, in which cases the elector must have been a resident of the State two
years next preceding the election, and six months within the election district in which he offers to
vote: provided that no soldier, seaman, or marine in the regular Army or Navy of the United States,
unless he be a qualified elector of the State previous to his enlistment as such soldier, seaman, or
marine in the regular Army or Navy of the United States or of the Revenue Service, shall be
considered a resident of the State, in consequence of being stationed within the same.
Section 2. The General Assembly shall, at its first session, provide, for the registration of all the
qualified electors in each county; and thereafter from time to time, of all who may become such
Section 3. No President, Director, Cashier, or other officer of any Banking company in this state,
shall be eligible to the office of Governor, Senator or Representative to the General Assembly of this
State, so long as he shall be such President, Director, Cashier, or other officer, nor until the lapse of
twelve months from the time at which he shall have ceased to be such President, Director, Cashier,
or other officer.
Section 4. The General Assembly shall have power to exclude from every office of honor, trust
or profit, within the State, and from the right of suffrage, all persons convicted of bribery, perjury,
or other infamous crime.
Section 5. No person shall be capable of holding, or of being elected to any post of honor, profit,
trust, or emolument, civil or military, legislative, executive, or judicial, under the government of this
State, who shall hereafter fight a duel, or send, or accept a challenge to fight a duel, the probable
issue of which may be the death of the challenger, or challenged, or who shall be a second to either
party, or who shall in any manner aid, or assist in such duel, or shall be knowingly the bearer of such
challenge, or acceptance, whether the same occur, or be committed in or out of the State.
Section 6. No person who may hereafter be a collector, or holder of public moneys, shall have
a seat in either House of the General Assembly, or be eligible to any office of trust, or profit, under
this State, until he shall have accounted for, and paid into the Treasury, all sums for which he may
Section 7. No Governor, Member of Congress, or of the General Assembly of this State, shall
receive a fee, be engaged as counsel, agent, or attorney, in any civil case, or claim, against this State,
or to which this State shall be a party, during the time he shall remain in office.
Section 8. No Governor, Justice of the Supreme Court, Chancellor or Judge of this State, shall
be eligible to election, or post of honor, or emolument, under this State, or to the station of Senator,
or Representative in Congress of the United States, from this State, until one year after he shall have
ceased to be such Governor, Justice, Chancellor, or Judge.
Section 9. No Senator or Representative shall, during the term for which he shall have been
elected, be appointed to any civil office of profit, under this State which shall have been created, or
the emoluments of which shall have been increased, during such term, except such offices as may be
filled by elections by the people.
Section 10. No minister of the Gospel shall be eligible to the office of Governor, Senator, or
member of the House of Representatives of this State.
Section 11. Members of the General Assembly, and all officers, Civil or Military, before they enter
upon the execution of their respective offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation: I do swear
(or affirm,) that I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the office
to which I have been elected, (or appointed) and will, to the best of my abilities, discharge the duties
thereof, and preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of this State, and of the United States.
Section 12. Every person shall be disqualified from serving as Governor, Senator, Representative,
or from holding any other office of honor, or profit in this State, for the term for which he shall have
been elected, who shall have been convicted of having given or offered any bribe to procure his
Section 13. Laws shall be made by the General Assembly, to exclude from office, and from
suffrage, those who shall have been or may thereafter be convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or
other high crime, or misdemeanor; and the privilege of suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating
elections, and prohibiting, under adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon, from power, bribery,
tumult, or other improper practices.
Section 14. All civil officers of the State at large, shall reside within the State, and all District or
county officers within their respective Districts, or counties, and shall keep their respective offices
at such places therein as may be required by law.
Section 15. It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to regulate by law, in what cases, and
what deduction from the salaries of public officers, shall be made, for neglect of duty in their official
Section 16. Returns of elections for members of Congress, and the General Assembly, shall be
made to the Secretary of State, in manner to be prescribed by law.
Section 17. In all elections by the General Assembly, the vote shall be viva voce, and in all
elections by the people, the vote shall be by ballot.
Section 18. No member of Congress, or person holding or exercising any office of profit under
the United States, or under any foreign power shall be eligible as a member of the General Assembly
of this State, or hold, or exercise any office of profit, at the same time, except the office of Justice
of the Peace, notary public, constable and militia offices.
Section 19. The General Assembly shall by law provide for the appointment, or election, and the
removal from office, of all officers, civil, and military, in this State, not provided for in this
Section 20. The power of impeachment shall be vested in the House of Representatives.
Section 21. All impeachments shall be tried by the Senate; and when sitting for that purpose, the
Senators shall be upon oath, or affirmation; and no person shall be convicted, without the
concurrence of two-thirds of the members present.
Section 22. The Governor and all civil officers shall be liable to impeachment for any misdemeanor
in office: but judgment in such cases shall not extend further than to removal from office, and
disqualification to hold any office of honor, trust, or profit under this State; but the parties shall
nevertheless be liable to indictment, trial, and punishment according to law.
Section 1. All Militia officers shall be elected by the persons subject to military duty, within the
bounds of their several companies, battalions, regiments, brigades, and divisions, under such rules and
regulations as the General Assembly may, from time to time, direct and establish.
Section 2. The Governor shall appoint all the officers of the executive staff, except the Adjutant
General, and Paymaster General, who shall be appointed by the Governor, by, and with the advice
and consent of the Senate. The majors general and brigadiers general, and commanding officers of
regiments, shall appoint such staff officers as may be prescribed by law; provided, no person shall be
eligible to any staff appointment, unless he hold a commission in the line.
Taxation and Revenue.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall devise and adopt a system of Revenue having regard to
an equal and uniform mode of taxation, to be general throughout the State.
Section 2. No other or greater amount of Tax, or Revenue, shall at any time be levied, than may
be required for the necessary expenses of Government.
Section 3. No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of an appropriation
by law and a regular statement of the receipts, and the expenditures of all public moneys shall be
published and promulgated annually with the laws of the General Assembly.
Section 4. The General Assembly shall have power to authorize the several counties, and
incorporated towns in this State, to impose taxes for county and corporation purposes, respectively,
and all property shall be taxed upon the principles established in regard to State taxation.
Census and Apportionment of Representation.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall, in the year one thousand eight hundred and forty-five,
and every tenth year thereafter, cause an enumeration to be made of all the inhabitants of the state,
and to the whole number of free white inhabitants shall be added three-fifths of the number of slaves,
and they shall then proceed to apportion the representation, equally among the different counties,
according to such enumeration, giving however one representative to every county, and increasing
the number of Representatives on a uniform ratio of population, according to the foregoing basis, and
which ratio shall not be changed until a new census shall have been taken.
Section 2. The General Assembly shall also, after every such enumeration, proceed to fix by law
the number of Senators which shall constitute the Senate of the State of Florida, and which shall
never be less than one-fourth nor more than one-half of the whole number of the House of
Representatives; and they shall lay off the State into the same number of Senatorial Districts, as nearly
equal in the number of inhabitants as may be, according to the ratio of representation established in
the preceding section, each of which Districts shall be entitled to one Senator.
Section 3. When any Senatorial District shall be composed of two or more counties, the counties,
of which such district consists, shall not be entirely separated by any county belonging to another
district, and no county shall be divided in forming a district.
Section 4. No new county shall be entitled to separate representation, until its population equal
the ratio of representation, then existing; nor shall any county be reduced in population by division,
below the existing ratio.
Section 5. Until the apportionment of representation by the General Assembly, as directed in the foregoing section, the several counties shall be entitled to the following Representatives, vis:--Escambia three, Walton one, Washington one, Jackson three, Franklin two, Calhoun two, Gadsden four, Leon six, Jefferson three, Madison one, Hamilton one, Columbia two, Alachua two, Duval two, Nassau one, St. Johns three, Mosquito one, Dade one, Monroe one, Hillsborough one: And until the apportionment of Senators under the census as aforesaid, there shall be sixteen Senatorial Districts in this State, which shall be as follows:
The county of Escambia, shall compose the first District.
The counties of Walton and Washington, shall compose the second District.
The county of Jackson, shall compose the third District.
The county of Calhoun, shall compose the fourth District.
The county of Franklin, shall compose the fifth District.
The county of Gadsden, shall compose the sixth District.
The county of Leon, shall compose the seventh District.
The county of Jefferson, shall compose the eighth District
The county of Madison, shall compose the ninth District.
The county of Hamilton, shall compose the tenth District.
The county of Columbia, shall compose the eleventh District.
The county of Alachua, shall compose the twelfth District.
The county of Duval, shall compose the thirteenth District.
The county of Nassau, shall compose the fourteenth District.
The counties of St. Johns and Mosquito, shall compose the fifteenth District.
The counties of Dade, Monroe, and Hillsborough, shall compose the sixteenth District.
And each Senatorial District shall elect one Senator, and the seventh District shall be entitled
Section 1. The proceeds of all lands that have been or may hereafter be granted by the United
States for the use of Schools, and a Seminary or Seminaries, of learning, shall be and remain a
perpetual fund, the interest of which, together with all monies derived from any other source
applicable to the same object, shall be inviolably appropriated to the use of Schools and Seminaries
of learning respectively, and to no other purpose.
Section 2. The General Assembly shall take such measures as may be necessary to preserve from
waste or damage all land so granted and appropriated to the purposes of Education.
Public Domain and Internal Improvements.
Section 1. It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to provide for the prevention of waste and
damage of the public lands now possessed, or that may hereafter be ceded to the Territory or State
of Florida, and it may pass laws for the sale of any part or portion thereof; and in such case provide
for the safety, security, and appropriation of the proceeds.
Section 2. A liberal system of Internal Improvements being essential to the development of the
resources of the country, shall be encouraged by the Government of this State, and it shall be the duty
of the General Assembly, as soon as practicable, to ascertain by law proper objects of improvement
in relation to roads, canals and navigable streams, and to provide for a suitable application of such
funds as may be appropriated for such improvements.
Section 1. The jurisdiction of the State of Florida shall extend over the Territories of East and
West Florida, which, by the Treaty of Amity, Settlement and Limits, between the United States and
his Catholic Majesty, on the 22nd day of February, A. D., 1819, were ceded to the United States.
Banks, and other Corporations.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall pass a general law for the incorporation of all such
churches, and religious or other societies as may accept thereof; but no special act of incorporation
thereof shall be passed.
Section 2. The General Assembly shall pass no act of incorporation, or make any alteration
therein, unless with the assent of at least two-thirds of each House, and unless public notice in one
or more newspapers in the State shall have been given for at least three months immediately preceding
the session at which the same may be applied for.
Section 3. No Banking corporation shall be created or continue which is composed of a less
number than twenty individuals, a majority of whom at least, shall be residents of the State; and no
other corporation shall be created or continue composed of a less number than ten, of whom at least
five shall be residents of this State.
Section 4. No Bank Charter, or any act of incorporation granting exclusive privileges, shall be
granted for a longer period than twenty years, and no Bank Charter shall ever be extended or
Section 5. The Charters of Banks granted by the General Assembly shall restrict such Banks to
the business of exchange, discount and deposit, and they shall not speculate or deal in real estate or
the stock of other corporations or associations, or in merchandise or chattels, or be concerned in
insurance, manufacturing, exportation or importation, except of bullion or specie; shall not act as
Trustee in anywise; nor shall they own real estate or chattels, except such as shall be necessary for
their actual use in the transaction of business, or which may be pledged as further security, or received
towards, or in satisfaction of previously contracted debts, or purchased at legal sales, to satisfy such
debts, of which they shall be required to make sale within two years after the acquisition thereof.
Section 6. The capital stock of any Bank shall not be less than one hundred thousand dollars, and
shall be created only by the actual payment of specie therein, and no Bank shall borrow money to
create or add to its capital, or to conduct its business, and no loans shall be made on stock.
Section 7. All liabilities of such Banks shall be payable in specie, and the aggregate of the
liabilities and issues of a Bank shall at no time exceed double the amount of its capital stock paid in.
Section 8. No Bank shall make a note or security of any kind for a smaller sum than five dollars,
and the General Assembly may increase such restriction to twenty dollars.
Section 9. No dividends of profits exceeding ten per centum per annum on the capital stock paid
in shall be made, but all profits over ten per centum per annum shall be set apart and retained as a
Section 10. Stockholders in a bank, when an act of forfeiture of its Charter is committed, or when
it is dissolved or expires, shall be individually and severally liable for the payment of all its debt, in
proportion to the stock owned by each.
Section 11. Banks shall be open to inspection under such regulations as may be prescribed by law,
and it shall be the duty of the Governor to appoint a person or persons, not connected in any manner
with any Bank in the State, to examine at least once a year into their state and condition, and the
officers of every Bank shall make quarterly returns to the Governor of its state and condition, and the
names of the stockholders, and shares held by each.
Section 12. Non user for the space of one year, or any act of a corporation, or those having the
control and management thereof, or intrusted therewith inconsistent with or in violation of the
provisions of this Constitution or of its charters, shall cause its forfeiture, and the General Assembly
shall, by general law provide a summary process for the sequestration of its effects and assets, the
appointment of officers to settle its affairs, and no forfeited charter shall be restored. The foregoing
provision shall not be construed to prevent the General Assembly from imposing other restrictions
and provisions in the creation of corporations.
Section 13. The General Assembly shall not pledge the faith and credit of the State, to raise funds
in aid of any corporation whatsoever.
Section 14. The General Assembly shall at its first session, have power to regulate, restrain and
control, all associations claiming to exercise corporate privileges in the State, so as to guard, protect,
and secure the interests of the people of the State, not violating vested rights, or impairing the
obligation of contracts.
Amendments and Revision of the Constitution.
Section 1. No Convention of the people shall be called, unless by the concurrence of two-thirds
of each House of the General Assembly.
Section 2. No part of this Constitution shall be altered; unless a bill to alter the same, shall have
been read three times in the House of Representatives, and three times in the Senate, and agreed to
by two-thirds of each House of the General Assembly; neither shall any alteration take place until the
bill so agreed to, be published six months previous to a new election for members to the House of
Representatives; and if the alteration proposed by the General Assembly shall be agreed to at their
first session by two-thirds of each House of the General Assembly, after the same shall have been read
three times on three several days in each House, then and not otherwise, the same shall become a part
of the Constitution.
The Seat of Government.
Section 1. The Seat of Government, of the State of Florida, shall be and remain permanent at the
city of Tallahassee, for the term and time of five years, from and after the end of the first session of
the General Assembly, to be holden under this Constitution; and after the expiration of the said five
years, the General Assembly shall have power to remove the Seat of Government, from Tallahassee,
and fix the same at any other point; Provided, that the General Assembly shall immediately after the
expiration of ten years, from the end of the said first session thereof, fix permanently the Seat of
Section 1. The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws for the emancipation of
Section 2. They shall have no power to prevent emigrants to this State, from bringing with them,
such persons as may be deemed slaves, by the laws of any one of the United States: Provided, they
shall have power to enact laws to prevent the introduction of any slaves who may have committed
crimes in other States.
Section 3. The General Assembly shall have power to pass laws to prevent free negroes,
mulattoes, and other persons of color, from emigrating to this State, or from being discharged from
on board any vessel, in any of the ports of Florida.
Section 4. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or in adhering
to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the
testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or his confession in open court.
Section 5. Divorces from the bonds of matrimony shall not be allowed, but by the judgment of
a court, as shall be prescribed by law.
Section 6. The General Assembly shall declare by law, what parts of the common law, and what
parts of the civil law, not inconsistent with this Constitution, shall be in force in this State.
Section 7. The oaths of officers directed to be taken under this Constitution, may be administered by any judge, or justice of the peace, of the Territory, or State of Florida until otherwise prescribed by law.
Schedule and Ordinance.
In order that no inconvenience may arise from the organization and establishment of the State
Government, it is declared:
Section 1. That all laws and parts of laws, now in force, or which may be hereafter passed by the
Governor and Legislative Council, of the Territory of Florida, not repugnant to the provisions of this
Constitution, shall continue in force, until by operation of their provisions or limitations, the same
shall cease to be in force, or until the General Assembly of this State shall alter or repeal the same;
and all writs, actions, prosecutions, judgments, and contracts, shall be, and continue unimpaired, and
all process which has heretofore issued, or which may be issued, prior to the last day of the first
session of the General Assembly of this State, shall be as valid as if issued in the name of the State;
and nothing in this Constitution shall impair the obligation of contracts, or violate vested rights, either
of individuals or of associations, claiming to exercise corporate privileges in this State.
Section 2. All fines, penalties, forfeitures, obligations, and escheats, accruing to the Territory of
Florida, shall accrue to the use of the State of Florida.
Section 3. All recognizances heretofore taken, or which may be taken before the organization
of the Judicial Department under this Constitution, shall remain valid, and shall pass over to, and may
be prosecuted in the name of the State; and all bonds, executed to the Governor of the Territory of
Florida, or to any other officer in his official capacity, shall pass over to the Governor or other proper
State authority, and to their successors in office for the uses therein respectively expressed, and may
be sued for, and recovered accordingly; and all criminal prosecutions and penal actions, which have
arisen, or which may arise before the organization of the Judicial Department under this Constitution,
and which shall then be depending, may be prosecuted to judgment and execution in the name of the
Section 4. All officers, civil and military, now holding their offices and appointments in the
Territory, under the authority of the United States, or under the authority of the Territory, shall
continue to hold and exercise their respective offices and appointments until superseded under this
constitution; and all actions at law, or suits in chancery, or any proceeding pending, or which may be
pending, in any Court of the Territory of Florida, may be commenced in or transferred to such Court
of the State as may have jurisdiction of the subject-matter thereof.
Section 5. This Constitution shall be submitted to the people for ratification at the election for
Delegate on the first Monday of May next. Each qualified voter shall express his assent or dissent
to the Constitution by directing the managers of said election to write opposite to his name on the
poll-book, either the word "Constitution," or "No Constitution." And in case the time of election for
Delegate be changed to any other day, than the first Monday of May next, then the Judges or Clerks
of the County Courts respectively, shall appoint managers to hold an election on the said first Monday
of May, for ratification of the Constitution, and said managers shall conduct said election in the
manner provided by the laws of the Territory respecting elections, and make return of the result of
such vote forthwith, by depositing the original poll-book in the Clerk's Office of their Counties
respectively, and by transmitting a certificate of the result to the President of the Convention, who
shall forthwith make Proclamation of the same; and in case the Constitution be ratified by the People,
and immediately after official information shall have been received that Congress have approved the
Constitution, and provided for the admission of Florida, the President of this Convention shall issue
writs of election to the proper officers in the different Counties, enjoining them to cause an election
to be held for Governor, Representative in Congress, and Members of the General Assembly in each
of their respective Counties. The election shall be held on the first Monday after the lapse of sixty
days following the day of the date of the President's proclamation, and shall take place on the same
day throughout the State. The said election shall be conducted according to the then existing election
laws of the Territory of Florida: Provided, however that in case of the absence or disability of the
President of the Convention, to cause the said election to be carried into effect, the Secretary of this
Convention shall discharge the duties hereby imposed upon the President; and in case of the absence
or disability of the Secretary, a committee consisting of five, to wit: Leigh Read, George T. Ward,
James D. Westcott, Jr., Thomas Brown, and Leslie A. Thompson, or a majority of them, shall
discharge the duties herein imposed on the Secretary of the Convention, and, the Members of the
General Assembly, so elected, shall assemble on the fourth Monday thereafter, at the Seat of
Government. The Governor, Representative in Congress, and Members of the General Assembly,
shall enter upon the duties of their respective offices immediately after their election, under the
provisions of this Constitution, and shall continue in office in the same manner, and during the same
period, they would have done, had they been elected on the first Monday in October.
Section 6. The General Assembly shall have power by the votes of two-thirds of both Houses to
accede to such propositions as may be made by the Congress of the United States, upon the
admission of the State of Florida into the National confederacy and Union, if they shall be deemed
reasonable and just, and to make declaration of such assent by law; and such declaration when made
shall be binding upon the people and the State of Florida as a compact; and the Governor of the State
of Florida, shall notify the President of the United States of the Acts of the General Assembly relating
thereto; and in case of declining to accede to such propositions or any part thereof, the General
Assembly shall instruct the Senators and Representative of the State of Florida in Congress, to
procure such modification or alteration thereof as may be deemed reasonable and just, and assent
thereto, subject to the ratification of the General Assembly by law as aforesaid.
Section 7. The Courts of this State shall never entertain jurisdiction of any grants of land, in the
Floridas, made by the King of Spain, or by his authority, subsequent to the twenty-fourth day of
January, eighteen hundred and eighteen, nor shall the said Courts receive as evidence, in any case,
certain grants said to have been made by the said King of Spain, in favor of the Duke of Alagon, the
Count Punon Rostro, and Don Pedro de Vargas, or any title derived from either of said Grants, unless
with the express assent of the Congress of the United States.
Done in Convention, held in pursuance of an act of the Governor and Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida, entitled, "An Act to call a Convention for the purpose of organizing a State Government," passed 30th day of January, 1838, and appro ved 2nd February, eighteen hundred and thirty-eight.
In witness whereof, the undersigned, the President of said Convention and Delegates, representing the people of Florida, do hereunder sign our names, this the eleventh day of January, Anno Domini, eighteen hundred and thirty-nine, and of the Independ
ence of the United States of America, the sixty-third year; and the Secretary of said Convention, doth countersign the same.
ROBERT RAYMOND REID, President.
JOSHUA KNOWLES, Secretary of the Convention.
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