A common metric in confirming a state's Southern identity is its commitment to white supremacy, what U.B. Phillips argued was the "central theme of Southern history." Florida was the third state to secede on January 10, 1861; white lawmakers readily enacted Jim Crow segregation and disenfranchised African Americans after Reconstruction; and, from 1877 to 1950, Florida ranked first in the southeast in lynchings per capita. The Floridian commitment to white supremacy was endemic in the state's constitution of 1865 and in the "Black Codes" passed early during Reconstruction, making Florida's first postwar government one of the harshest and most reactionary of the ex-Confederate states. As this study examines, the public debate over what civil rights the newly emancipated population should enjoy, the rhetoric and resolutions of the constitutional convention, and the language ofthe Florida Constitution of 1865 are evidence of white Floridians' desire to constrain Black Floridians' citizenship. The Dupont-Peeler report, which comprised the bulk of Florida's "Black Codes," built on the state constitution's effort to make Black Floridians a subservient laboring class through stringent vagrancy laws and involuntary servitude as a punishment for crimes. Florida lawmakers' attempted maintenance of white supremacy reflected the composition of the two deliberative bodies; the majority of the Constitutional Convention of 1865 and the DuPont-Peeler Committee were ex-Confederates and former slaveholding planters dependent on cheap Black labor for financial survival.

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