Florida's Early Constitutions

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1812 Patriot Constitution

In March 1812, a group of Georgia settlers known as the Patriot Army, with de facto support from the U.S. government, invaded Spanish East Florida. The Patriots hoped to convince the inhabitants of Spanish East Florida to join their cause and proclaim independence from Spain. Once independence was achieved, the Patriots would transfer control of the territory to the United States. The Patriots eventually lost their tenuous support from the U.S. government and abandoned the Florida project in early 1813.

1838 Constitution

One of the requirements for a territory to become a State of the Union is that its constitution be approved by Congress. This is a copy of the product of the convention held in St. Joseph, which began Dec. 3, 1838, that was used to fulfill the requirement.

Ordinance of Secession

The onrush of the Civil War brought in Florida the election in 1860 of a convention "for the purpose of taking into consideration the position of this State in the Federal Union." This convention met in Tallahassee on January 3, 1861, and had produced for adoption on January 10 an Ordinance of Secession and a Constitution which largely altered the existing Constitution by substituting "Confederate States" for "United States."

1865 Constitution

To re-enter the union under Presidential Reconstruction a constitution was created by a convention called by the appointed governor. This constitution was never in effect. The U. S. Congress rejected it and put Florida under Radical Reconstruction, i.e. military rule until 1868.

1868 Constitution

The Reconstruction constitution returned civilian control of the state. It enfranchised black males and required each voter to take an oath of loyalty to the State of Florida and the United States Government.

1885 Constitution

Reversed some of the aspects of the 1868 Constitution. It established the makeup of the state government that continued until 1968.