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The Laws of 1862

It is, so much, an ordinary book of laws.

And yet… and yet…

And yet there is so much that is so very extraordinary.

In so many ways, so much what the Florida Legislature did that term, when it met in the First Session of its 12th General Assembly, at the Capitol, in the City of Tallahassee, as reflected in the laws it passed was perfectly ordinary.

It almost didn’t seem worth it for The Legal Genealogist to be poking around in the small volume last night while preparing for the 2017 Valentine Genealogy Seminar of the Indian River Genealogical Society, tomorrow, in Vero Beach.

I mean, seriously, this was ordinary stuff. The Legislature began the session by authorizing the executors of James Abercrombie, Sr., to sell some of the lands held by the estates.1

It provided for the relief of Richard Saunders, Sheriff of Leon County, who had overpaid what he was obliged to pay the State to the tune of $205.63.2

It authorized the Circuit Courts to change names of people living within the State.3

It amended an act to provide for the establishment of two Seminaries of Learning that had passed in 1851, mostly to change the way their boards of education were selected and vacancies filled.4

It organized Brevard County’s government.5

It called for the valuation of all taxable property by the tax assessors and collectors of the state, with returns of the tax lists to each Board of County Commissioners.6

It provided a small sum each month to John Kelly, father of a lunatic daughter, for her care “which, of right, should be borne by the State according to law.”7

It regulated trade with Native tribes and established the boundaries of what was called Indian Territory.8

All normal ordinary acts of a Legislature at any time.

And then it did all those other things that had to be done because of what was not ordinary — because of the time when and because of the place where that Legislature was sitting.

It was, after all, 1862… in Florida.

That Legislature relieved those persons who’d been mustered into the Confederate military services and who were then serving from having to pay a poll tax, and exempted their property from taxation as well.9

It suspended collection of taxes in counties held or controlled by the military forces of the United States.10

It provided aid to the families of soldiers that require assistance.11

It prohibited Sheriffs and Circuit Court Clerks from appointing and having deputies otherwise subject to conscription “during the existence of the present war.”12

It provided for the payment of troops called into or remaining in the service of the state.13

It changed the rules for the trial of “persons in this State during the existing war” to allow those who committed crimes in areas under enemy control to be tried in the nearest county under Confederate control.14

It offered its official thanks to Florida troops “for the patriotic gallantry with which they responded to the call of their country, and for the characteristic courage and energy with which they have born aloft the banner of their country on the bloody battlefields of Virginia and elsewhere, to the imperishable glory and honor of themselves and their State.”15

It provided for sending the carpets at the Capitol “for the use of the troops from this State.”16

And, “in relation to the present War,” it resolved:

That it is the sense of this Legislature that Florida, one of the first States to secede from the old Union, will be one of the last to lay down its arms, and in the impending struggle will stand by her sister States to the last man and the last musket, until peace is established on the basis of a separate nationality and the independence of the Confederate States is unconditionally acknowledged by the United States.17

An extraordinarily ordinary law book… for an extraordinarily ordinary time.


  1. Chapter 1317, in Acts and Resolutions … of the 12th General Assembly of Florida… 1862 (Tallahassee : Office of the Floridian & Journal, 1863), 8; digital images, HathiTrust Digital Library ( : accessed 23 Feb 2017).
  2. Ibid., Chapter 1321, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 10.
  3. Ibid., Chapter 1324, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 12.
  4. Ibid., Chapter 1328, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 13-14.
  5. Ibid., Chapter 1330, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 14-15.
  6. Ibid., Chapter 1345, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 27.
  7. Ibid., Chapter 1353, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 31.
  8. Ibid., Chapter 1363, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 39.
  9. Ibid., Chapter 1329, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 14.
  10. Ibid., Chapter 1336, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 18-19.
  11. Ibid., Chapter 1337, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 19-22.
  12. Ibid., Chapter 1339, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 23-24.
  13. Ibid., Chapter 1340, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 24.
  14. Ibid., Chapter 1354, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 32.
  15. Ibid., Resolution No. 2, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 63-64.
  16. Ibid., Resolution No. 5, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 65.
  17. Ibid., Resolution No. 17, Acts and Resolutions … 1862 at 70.
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