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William Marvin," Provisional Governor's instructions for the election of a State Convention," August 23, 1865, Tallahassee, Florida

William Marvin, detail
William Marvin previous to 1861 had been a long-term federal judge in Florida and President Johnson had named him as his provisional governor of the state a short time before. In this message, Marvin lays out the instructions for the election of a State convention which would then be expected to remove all legislative vestiges of the Confederacy, order elections for a permanent governor and legislature, and clear the way for the full restoration of Florida to the Union. This swift action was happening across the South and Marvin's detailed instructions serve as an example. Prominent in the instructions is the stress that participation in this first round of elections depends on the amnesty oath, mentioned over and over again, required of all judges, officials, and voters. Marvin also states the position of former slaves in the process, stating that the amnesty oath requires that all treat freemen fairly but that the issue of voting rights for African-Americans in the State was not yet decided, hinting that this would be reserved for the newly elected legislature to decide, as the U.S. Constitution requires. (By John Osborne)