A History of Florida's Constitution 

Adopted in 1968, Florida’s current constitution is our state's sixth constitution. Florida’s five previous constitutions—dated 1838, 1861, 1865, 1868 and 1885—were a reflection of the time periods in which their drafters lived. Today’s constitution contains much of the work of the previous authors in such areas as the bicameral legislature. The following is an outline of the history of Florida’s Constitution.

1838 Seeking statehood for Florida, 56 delegates drafted Florida’s first constitution at a convention in St. Joseph. The state’s first constitution established a bicameral legislature, a one-term governor and designated that departmental heads be selected by the legislature.

1861

In order to formally secede from the United States, the drafters of Florida’s second constitution met in Tallahassee to tie Florida to the "Confederate States of America.” Laws governing the convention gave it the power to make necessary changes and therefore Florida’s second constitution did not have to be submitted to the electorate for ratification.

1865

The end of the Civil War called for Florida’s third Constitution to be drafted. Although it was adopted, the constitution never became law because Florida came under post-Civil War military jurisdiction.
1868 Florida's fourth constitution was often referred to as the “Carpetbag” constitution and revealed the unstable period of post-Civil War Reconstruction. This constitution allowed for the governor to appoint county officials, implemented a public school system and established a state prison.
1885 In response to the abuses of government following Reconstruction, Florida’s fifth constitution weakened executive authority and added checks and balances. The authors of the fifth constitution created an elected cabinet and added a requirement to elect government officials. This constitution came to be Florida’s longest-lived and most amended constitution.
1968 Due to the large number of amendments proposed each session by the legislature, it became evident that a new constitution that better reflected Florida’s modernization was required. As such, Florida's current constitution was adopted in 1968 and replaced the 1885 version.

 


 

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