Florida Secedes From The Union

On January 10, 1861, delegates to the Florida Convention in Tallahassee voted to secede from the United States of America.

The following month, Florida was one of six Deep South states to form the Confederate States of America.

The least populous state below the Mason-Dixon line, Florida played an active role in the Civil War. At least 17,000 Floridians fought in the conflict (the great majority on the Confederate side), and the state's coastline provided safe harbor to blockade runners. Florida products—such as sugar, pork, molasses and salt—proved essential in feeding Southern soldiers.

Just a year into the conflict, Confederate forces abandoned Fort Marion in St. Augustine. On March 11, 1862, the Union gunboat USS Wabash took the fort without firing a shot. Local officials agreed to surrender the historic city, founded by the Spanish in 1565, in an attempt to save it from destruction. The garrison, built by the Spanish and initially completed in 1695, is preserved as the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

On January 10, 1861, before the start of the American Civil War, Florida declared its secession from the Union; ten days later, the state became a founding member of the Confederate States of America. The war ended in 1865. On June 25, 1868, Florida's congressional representation was restored. After Reconstruction, white Democrats succeeded in regaining power in the state legislature. In 1885 they created a new constitution, followed by statutes through 1889 that effectively disfranchised most blacks and many poor whites over the next several years. Provisions included poll taxes, literacy tests, and residency requirements. Disfranchisement for most African Americans in the state persisted until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gained federal legislation to protect their suffrage.