Though Gibbs did not win the election to Congress, he was appointed Florida's Secretary of State, serving from 1868 to 1872, by Wisconsin-born Republican governor, Harrison Reed . Gibbs wielded considerable power and responsibility during his four years as Secretary of State. In a letter to his close friend, Charles Barrett, Gibbs remarked that, "In 1868 I was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate , Secretary of State of Florida at a salary of $3000, per year for four years, and stand second man in the government of this State today."  Gibbs' power and influence contradicts some observations made by historians of this period. Eric Foner noted that, "During Reconstruction more blacks served in the essentially ceremonial office of secretary of state than any other post, and by and large, the most important political decisions in every state were made by whites."  However, Article VIII of the Constitution states that, "The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Secretary of State, and Attorney General shall constitute a body corporate, to be known as the Board of Education of Florida. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be president thereof. The duties of the Board of Education shall be prescribed by the Legislature."  Gibbs also was proactive as Secretary of State, conducting extensive investigations into violence and fraud (including investigations into the activities of the Ku Klux Klan ) and he also served on the Board of Canvassers, testifying on behalf of Josiah Thomas Walls .