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FLORIDA was discovered by Sebastian Cabot, sailing under the English Flag, in 1497. Ponce de Leon, a Spanish adventurer from Hispaniola, explored this country in part in 1512, and again in 1516.
In 1539, Hernando de Soto, who had been an officer under Pizarro in the conquest of Peru, sailed from Cuba (of which he was Governor), with an armed force to Florida. They soon overrun the peninsula, but his followers were mostly cut off, and he soon after died.
In 1763 this territory was ceded to Great Britain by Spain, in exchange for Havanna. The Spanish reconquered it in 1781, and it was confirmed to them in 1783. In 1821 the Spaniards ceded it to the United States, as a compensation for spoilations in their commerce.
This State was admitted into the Union on the 3d of March 1845, Its Constitution was adopted in 1838. Area, 57,000 sq. ms. Pop. in 1850, 87,387. of which 39,341 are slaves, and 926 Free blacks.
CONSTITUTION. WE, the people of the Territory of Florida, by our delgates in Convention assembled, at the city of St. Joseph, on Monday, the third day of Decenaber, 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.
ARTICLE I.-- Declaration of Rights. That the great and essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established, we declare:
Sec. 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.
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.
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.
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.
5. That every citizen may feely 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.
6. That the right of trial by jury shall forever remain inviolate.
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
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 lifc, liberty, or property, but by the law of the land.
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.
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 offence was committed, and shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself
11. That all persons shall be bailable, by sufficient securities, unless in capital offences, where the proof is evident or the presumption 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.
12. That excessive bail shall in no case be required; nor shall excessive fines be imposed, nor shall cruel or unusual punishments be inflicted.
13. That no person shall, for the same offence, be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.
14. That private property shall not be taken or applied to public use, unless just compensation be made therefor.
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.
16. That no person shall be put to answer any criminal charge, but by presentment, indictment, or impeachment.
17. That no conviction shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture of estate.
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.
19. That no law impairing the obligation of contracts shall ever be passed.
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.
21. That the free white men of this State shall have a right to keep and to bear arms for their common defense.
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.
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.
24. That perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free State, and ought not to be allowed.
25. That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors, shall ever be granted or conferred in this State.
26. That frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty.
27. That, to guard against transgressions upon the rights of the people, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain invio
late; and that all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provi- ; sions, shall be void.
ARTICLE II.—Distribution of the Powers of Government. Sec. 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 another.
2. No person, or collection of persons, being of one of those departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others, except in the instances expressly provided in this constitution.
ARTICLE III.—Executive Department. Sec. 1. The supreme executive power shall be vested in a chief magistrate, who shall be styled the Governor of the State of Florida.
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 a re-election until the expiration of four years thereafter.
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.
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 baving 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.
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.
6. He shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of this State, and of the militia thereof.
7. He may require information in writing from the officers of the executive department, on any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices. 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.
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.
10. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
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
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.
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.
14. There shall be a Secretary of State appointed by a 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.
15. Vacancies that happen in offices the appointment of 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.
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 journal, and proceed to reconsider it; and if, after such reconsideration, 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 reconsidered; 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