In 1789, the House of Representatives compiled a list of possible Constitutional Amendments, some of which would ultimately become our Bill of Rights. The House proposed seventeen; the Senate reduced the list to twelve. During this process that Senator Tristrain Dalton (Mass.) proposed an Amendment seeking to prohibit and provide a penalty for any American accepting a “title of Nobility” (RG 46 Records of the U.S. Senate). Although it wasn’t passed, this was the first time a “title of nobility” amendment was proposed.
Twenty years later, in January, 1810, Senator Reed proposed another “Title of Nobility” Amendment (History of Congress, Proceedings of the Senate, p. 529-530). On April 27, 1810, the Senate voted to pass this 13th Amendment by a vote of 26 to 1; the House resolved in the affirmative 87 to 3; and the following resolve was sent to the States for ratification:
“If any citizen of the United States shall Accept, claim, receive or retain any title of nobility or honour, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.”
The Constitution requires three-quarters of the states to ratify a proposed amendment before it may be added to the Constitution. When Congress proposed the “Title of Nobility” Amendment in 1810, there were states, thirteen of which would have to ratify for the Amendment to be adopted. According to the National Archives, the following is a list of the twelve states that ratified, and their dates of ratification:
- Maryland, Dec. 25, 1810
- Kentucky, Jan. 31, 1811
- Ohio, Jan. 31, 1811
- Delaware, Feb. 2, 1811
- Pennsylvania, Feb. 6, 1811
- New Jersey, Feb. 13, 1811
- Vermont, Oct. 24, 1811
- Tennessee, Nov. 21, 1811
- Georgia, Dec. 13, 1811
- North Carolina, Dec. 23, 1811
- Massachusetts, Feb. 27, 1812
- New Hampshire, Dec. 10, 1812
Before a thirteenth state could ratify, the War of 1812 broke out with England. By the time the war ended in 1814, the British had burned the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and most of the records of the first 38 years of government. Whether there was a connection between the proposed “title of nobility” amendment and the War of 1812 is not known. However, the momentum to ratify the proposed Amendment was lost in the tumult of war.
Then, four years later, on December 31, 1817, the House of Representatives resolved that President Monroe inquire into the status of this Amendment. In a letter dated February 6, 1818, President Monroe reported to the House that the Secretary of State Adams had written to the governors of Virginia, South Carolina and Connecticut to tell them that the proposed Amendment had been ratified by twelve States and rejected by two (New York and Rhode Island), and asked the governors to notify him of their legislature’s position. (House Document No. 76) (This, and other letters written by the President and the Secretary of State during the month of February, 1818, note only that the proposed Amendment had not yet been ratified. However, these letters would later become crucial because, in the absence of additional information they would be interpreted to mean the amendment was never ratified).
On February 28, 1818, Secretary of State Adams reported the rejection of the Amendment by South Carolina. [House Doc. No. 129]. There are no further entries regarding the ratification of the 13th Amendment in the Journals of Congress; whether Virginia ratified is neither confirmed nor denied. Likewise, a search through the executive papers of Governor Preston of Virginia does not reveal any correspondence from Secretary of State Adams. (However, there is a journal entry in the Virginia House that the Governor presented the House with an official letter and documents from Washington within a time frame that conceivably includes receipt of Adams’ letter.) Again, no evidence of ratification; none of denial.
However, on March 10, 1819, the Virginia legislature passed Act No. 280 (Virginia Archives of Richmond, “misc.’ file, p. 299 for micro-film): “Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that there shall be published an edition of the Laws of this Commonwealth in which shall be contained the following matters, that is to say: the Constitution of the united States and the amendments thereto…” This act was the specific legislated instructions on what was, by law, to be included in the re-publication (a special edition) of the Virginia Civil Code. The Virginia Legislature had already agreed that all Acts were to go into effect on the same day — the day that the Act to re-publish the Civil Code was enacted. Therefore, the 13th Amendment’s official date of ratification would be the date of re-publication of the Virginia Civil Code: March 12, 1819.
The Delegates knew Virginia was the last of the 13 States that were necessary for the ratification of the 13th Amendment. They also knew there were powerful forces allied against this ratification so they took extraordinary measures to make sure that it was published in sufficient quantity (4,000 copies were ordered, almost triple their usual order), and instructed the printer to send a copy to President James Monroe as well as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. (The printer, Thomas Ritchie, was bonded. He was required to be extremely accurate in his research and his printing, or he would forfeit his bond.)
In this fashion, Virginia announced the ratification: by publication and dissemination of the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
There is question as to whether Virginia ever formally notified the Secretary of State that they had ratified this 13th Amendment. Some have argued that because such notification was not received (or at least, not recorded), the Amendment was therefore not legally ratified. However, printing by a legislature is prima facie evidence of ratification. Further, there is no Constitutional requirement that the Secretary of State, or anyone else, be officially notified to complete the ratification process. The Constitution only requires that three- fourths of the states ratify for an Amendment to be added to the Constitution. If three-quarters of the states ratify, the Amendment is passed. Period. The Constitution is otherwise silent on what procedure should be used to announce, confirm, or communicate the ratification of amendments.
Knowing they were the last state necessary to ratify the Amendment, the Virginians had every right announce their own and the nation’s ratification of the Amendment by publishing it on a special edition of the Constitution, and so they did.
Word of Virginia’s 1819 ratification spread throughout the States and both Rhode Island and Kentucky published the new Amendment in 1822. Ohio first published in 1824. Maine ordered 10,000 copies of the Constitution with the 13th Amendment to be printed for use in the schools in 1825, and again in 1831 for their Census Edition. Indiana Revised Laws of 1831 published the 13th Article on p. 20. Northwestern Territories published in 1833. Ohio published in 1831 and 1833. Then came the Wisconsin Territory in 1839; Iowa Territory in 1843; Ohio again, in 1848; Kansas Statutes in 1855; and Nebraska Territory six times in a row from 1855 to 1860.
So far, David Dodge has identified eleven different states or territories that printed the Amendment in twenty separate publications over forty-one years. And more editions including this 13th Amendment are sure to be discovered. Clearly, Dodge is onto something.
You might be able to convince some of the people, or maybe even all of them, for a little while, that this 13th Amendment was never ratified. Maybe you can show them that the ten legislatures which ordered it published eighteen times we’ve discovered (so far) consisted of ignorant politicians who don’t know their amendments from their… ahh, articles. You might even be able to convince the public that our U.S. forefathers never meant to “outlaw” public servants who pushed people around, accepted bribes or special favors to “look the other way.” Maybe. But before you do, there’s an awful lot of evidence to be explained.
THE AMENDMENT DISAPPEARS
In 1829, the following note appears on p. 23, Vol. 1 of the New York Revised Statutes:
“In the edition of the Laws of the U.S. before referred to, there is an amendment printed as article 13, prohibiting citizens from accepting titles of nobility or honor, or presents, offices, &c. from foreign nations. But, by a message of the president of the United States of the 4th of February, 1818, in answer to a resolution of the house of representatives, it appears that this amendment had been ratified only by 12 states, and therefore had not been adopted. See Vol. IV of the printed papers of the 1st session of the 15th congress, No. 76.”
In 1854, a similar note appeared in the Oregon Statutes. Both notes refer to the Laws of the United States, 1st vol. p. 73 (or 74).
It’s not yet clear whether the 13th Amendment was published in Laws of the United States, 1st Vol., prematurely, by accident, in anticipation of Virginia’s ratification, or as part of a plot to discredit the Amendment by making it appear that only twelve States had ratified. Whether the Laws of the United States Vol. 1 (carrying the 13th Amendment) was re-called or made-up is unknown. In fact, it’s not even clear that the specified volume was actually printed — the Law Library of the Library of Congress has no record of its existence.
However, because the noted authors reported no further references to the 13th Amendment after the Presidential letter of February, 1818, they apparently assumed the ratification process had ended in failure at that time. If so, they neglected to seek information on the Amendment after 1818, or at the state level, and therefore missed the evidence of Virginia’s ratification. This opinion — assuming that the Presidential letter of February, 1818, was the last word on the Amendment — has persisted to this day.
In 1849, Virginia decided to revise the 1819 Civil Code of Virginia (which had contained the 13th Amendment for 30 years). It was at that time that one of the code’s revisers (a lawyer named Patton) wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, William B. Preston, asking if this Amendment had been ratified or appeared by mistake. Preston wrote to J. M. Clayton, the Secretary of State, who replied that this Amendment was not ratified by a sufficient number of States. This conclusion was based upon the information that Secretary of State John Quincy Adams had provided the House of Representatives in 1818, before Virginia’s ratification in 1819. (Even today, the Congressional Research Service tells anyone asking about this 13th Amendment this same story: that only twelve states, not the requisite thirteen, had ratified.)
However, despite Clayton’s opinion, the Amendment continued to be published in various states and territories for at least another eleven years (the last known publication was in the Nebraska territory in 1860).
Once again the 13th Amendment was caught in the riptides of American politics. South Carolina seceded from the Union in December of 1860, signaling the onset of the Civil War. In March, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated.
Later in 1861, another proposed amendment, also numbered thirteen, was signed by President Lincoln. This was the only proposed amendment that was ever signed by a president. That resolve to amend read:
“ARTICLE THIRTEEN, No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.”
In other words, President Lincoln had signed a resolve that would have permitted slavery, and upheld states’ rights. Only one State, Illinois, ratified this proposed amendment before the Civil War broke out in 1861.
In the tumult of 1865, the original 13th Amendment was finally removed from the US Constitution. On January 31, another 13th Amendment (which prohibited slavery in Sect. 1, and ended states’ rights in Sect. 2) was proposed. On April 9, the Civil War ended with General Lee’s surrender. On April 14, President Lincoln (who, in 1861, had signed the proposed Amendment that would have allowed slavery and states rights) was assassinated. On December 6, the “new” 13th Amendment loudly prohibiting slavery (and quietly surrendering states rights to the federal government) was ratified, replacing and effectively erasing the original 13th Amendment that had prohibited “titles of nobility” and “honors”.
SIGNIFICANCE OF REMOVAL
To create the present oligarchy (rule by lawyers) which the U.S. now endures, the lawyers first had to remove the 13th “titles of nobility” Amendment that might otherwise have kept them in check. In fact, it was not until after the Civil War and after the disappearance of this 13th Amendment, that American bar associations began to appear and exercise political power.
Since the unlawful deletion of the 13th Amendment, the newly developing bar associations began working diligently to create a system wherein lawyers took on a title of privilege and nobility as “Esquires” and received the “honor” of offices and positions (like district attorney or judge) that only they could hold. By virtue of these titles, honors, and special privileges, lawyers have assumed political and economic advantages over the majority of U.S. citizens. Through these privileges, they have nearly established a two-tiered citizenship in this nation where a majority may vote, but only a minority (lawyers) may run for political office. This two-tiered citizenship is clearly contrary to Americans’ political interests, the nation’s economic welfare, and the Constitution’s egalitarian spirit.
The significance of this missing 13th Amendment and its deletion from the Constitution is this: Since the amendment was never lawfully nullified, it is still in full force and effect and is the Law of the land. If public support could be awakened, this missing Amendment might provide a legal basis to challenge many existing laws and court decisions previously made by lawyers who were unconstitutionally elected or appointed to their positions of power; it might even mean the removal of lawyers from the current US government system.
At the very least, this missing 13th Amendment demonstrates that two centuries ago, lawyers were recognized as enemies of the people and nation. Some things never change.
THOSE WHO CANNOT RECALL HISTORY …. Heed warnings of Founding Fathers
In his farewell address, George Washington warned of “… change by usurpation; for through this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”
In 1788, Thomas Jefferson proposed that we have a Declaration of Rights similar to Virginia’s. Three of his suggestions were “freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by jury in all cases” and “no suspensions of the habeas corpus.”
No doubt Washington’s warning and Jefferson’s ideas were dismissed as redundant by those who knew the law. Who would have dreamed the U.S. legal system would become a monopoly against freedom when that was one of the primary causes for the rebellion against King George III?
Yet, the denial of trial by jury is now commonplace in the U.S. courts, and habeas corpus, for crimes against the state, is suspended. (By crimes against the state, I refer to “political crimes” where there is no injured party and the corpus delicti [evidence] is equally imaginary.)
The authority to create monopolies was judge-made law by Supreme Court Justice John Marshall, et al during the early 1800’s. Judges (and lawyers) granted to themselves the power to declare the acts of the People “un-Constitutional”, waited until their decision was grandfathered, and then granted themselves a monopoly by creating the bar associations.
Although Article VI of the U.S. Constitution mandates that executive orders and treaties are binding upon the states (“… and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”), the supreme Court has held that the Bill of Rights is not binding upon the states, and thereby resurrected many of the complaints enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, exactly as Thomas Jefferson foresaw in “Notes on the State of Virginia”, Query 17, p. 161, 1784:
“Our rulers will become corrupt, our people careless… the time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is [now] while our rulers are honest, and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill. It will not then be necessary to resort every moment to the people for support. They will be forgotten, therefore, and their rights disregarded. They will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights. The shackles, therefore, which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier, till our rights shall revive or expire in a convulsion.”
We await the inevitable convulsion. Only two questions remain:
- Will we fight to revive our rights? Or,
- Will we meekly submit as our last remaining rights expire, surrendered to the courts, and perhaps to a “new world order”?
MORE EDITIONS FOUND
As we go to press, I’ve received information from a researcher in Indiana, and another in Dallas, who have found five more editions of statutes that include the Constitution and the missing 13th Amendment. These editions were printed by Ohio, 1819; Connecticut (one of the states that voted against ratifying the Amendment), 1835; Kansas, 1861; and the Colorado Territory, 1865 and 1867.
These finds are important because:
- They offer independent confirmation of Dodge’s claims; and
- They extend the known dates of publication from Nebraska 1860 (Dodge’s most recent find), to Colorado in 1867.
The most intriguing discovery was the 1867 Colorado Territory edition which includes both the “missing” 13th Amendment and the current 13th Amendment (freeing the slaves), on the same page. The current 13th Amendment is listed as the 14th Amendment in the 1867 Colorado edition.
This investigation has followed a labyrinthine path that started with the questions about how the U.S. courts evolved from a temple of the Bill of Rights to the current star chamber and whether this situation had anything to do with retiring chief Justice Burger’s warning that we were “about to lose our Constitution”. My seven year investigation has been fruitful beyond belief; the information on the missing 13th Amendment is only a “drop in the bucket” of the information I have discovered. Still, the research continues, and by definition, is never truly complete.
Imagine a nation which prohibited at least some lawyers from serving in government. Imagine a government prohibited from writing laws granting “honors” (special privileges, immunities, or advantages) to individuals, groups, or government officials. Imagine a government that could only write laws that applied to everyone, even themselves, equally.
It’s never been done before. Not once. But it has been tried: In 1810 the Congress of the United States proposed a 13th Amendment to the Constitution that might have given us just that sort of equality and political paradise. The story begins (again) in 1983, when David Dodge and Tom Dunn discovered an 1825 edition of the Maine Civil Code which contained the U.S. Constitution and a 13th Amendment which no longer appears on the Constitution:
“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive, or retain any title of nobility or honor, or shall without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office, or emolument of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince, or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them, or either of them.”
This Amendment would have restricted at least some lawyers from serving in government, and would prohibit legislators from passing any special interest legislation, tax breaks, or special immunities for anyone, not even themselves. It might have guaranteed a level of political equality in this nation that most people can’t even imagine. Since 1983, researchers have uncovered evidence that:
- The 13th Amendment prohibiting “titles of nobility” and “honors” appeared in at least 30 editions of the Constitution of the United States which were printed by at least 14 states or territories between 1819 and 1867; and
- This amendment quietly disappeared from the Constitution near the end of the Civil War.
Either this Amendment was:
- Unratified and mistakenly published for almost 50 years; or
- Ratified in 1819, and then illegally removed from the Constitution by 1867.
If this 13th Amendment was unratified and mistakenly published, the story has remained unnoticed in American history for over a century. If so, it’s at least a good story — an extraordinary historical anecdote.
On the other hand, if Dodge is right and the Amendment was truly ratified, an Amendment has been subverted from our Constitution. If so, this “missing” Amendment would still be the Law, and this story could be one of the most important stories in American History. Whatever the answer, it’s certain that something extraordinary happened to our Constitution between 1819 and 1867.
PROS AND CONS (for Ratification)
Of course, there are two sides to this issue. David Dodge, the principal researcher, argues that this 13th Amendment was ratified in 1819 and then subverted from the Constitution near the end of the Civil War. U.S. Senator George Mitchell of Maine, and Mr. Dane Hartgrove (Acting Assistant Chief, Civil Reference Branch of the National Archives) have argued that the Amendment was never properly ratified and only published in error.
There is some agreement. Both sides agree the Amendment was proposed by Congress in 1810. Both sides also agree that the proposed Amendment required the support of at least thirteen states to be ratified. Both sides agree that between 1810 and 1812 twelve states voted to support ratification. The pivotal issue is whether Virginia ratified or rejected the proposed Amendment. Dodge contends Virginia voted to support the Amendment in 1819, and so the Amendment was truly ratified and should still be a part of our Constitution. Senator Mitchell and Mr. Hartgrove disagree, arguing that Virginia did not ratify. Unfortunately, several decades of Virginia’s legislative journals were misplaced or destroyed (possibly during the Civil War; possibly during the 1930’s).
Consequently, neither side has found absolute proof that the Virginia legislature voted for (or against) ratification. A series of letters exchanged in 1991 between David Dodge, Sen. Mitchell, and Mr. Hartgrove illuminate the various points of disagreement. After Dodge’s initial report of a “missing” Amendment in the 1825 Maine Civil Code, Sen. Mitchell explained that this edition was a one-time publishing error:
“The Maine Legislature mistakenly printed the proposed Amendment in the Maine Constitution as having been adopted. As you know, this was a mistake, as it was not ratified.”
“All editions of the Maine Constitution printed after 1820 [sic] exclude the proposed amendment; only the originals contain this error.”
Dodge dug deeper, found other editions (there are 30, to date) of state and territorial civil codes that contained the missing Amendment, and thereby demonstrated that the Maine publication was not a “one-time” publishing error.
YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS A RATIFICATION
After examining Dodge’s evidence of multiple publications of the “missing” Amendment, Sen. Mitchell and Mr. Hartgrove conceded the Amendment had been published by several states and was ratified by twelve of the seventeen states in the Union in 1810. However, because the Constitution requires that three-quarters of the states vote to ratify an Amendment. Mitchell and Hartgrove insisted that the 13th Amendment was published in error because it was passed by only twelve, not thirteen States. Dodge investigated which seventeen states were in the Union at the time the Amendment was proposed, which states had ratified, which states had rejected the amendment, and determined that the issue hung on whether one last state (Virginia) had or had not, voted to ratify.
After several years of searching the Virginia state archive, Dodge made a crucial discovery: In Spring of 1991, he found a misplaced copy of the 1819 Virginia Civil Code which included the “missing” 13th Amendment. Dodge notes that, curiously, “There is no public record that shows this book [the 1819 Virginia Civil Code] exists. It is not catalogued as a holding of the Library of Congress nor is it in the National Union Catalogue. Neither the state law library nor the law school in Portland were able to find any trace that this book exists in any of their computer programs.”
Dodge sent photo-copies of the 1819 Virginia Civil Code to Sen. Mitchell and Mr. Hartgrove, and explained that, “Under legislative construction, it is considered prima facie evidence that what is published as the official acts of the legislature are the official acts.” By publishing the Amendment as ratified in an official publication, Virginia demonstrated that they:
- Knew they were the last state whose vote was necessary to ratify this 13th Amendment;
- Had voted to ratify the Amendment; and
- Were publishing the Amendment in a special edition of their Civil Code as an official notice to the world that the Amendment had indeed been ratified.
Dodge concluded, “Unless there is competing evidence to the contrary, it must be held that the Constitution of the United States was officially amended to exclude from its body of citizens any who accepted or claimed a title of nobility or accepted any special favors. Foremost in this category of ex-citizens are bankers and lawyers.”
RATIONALES (for Ratification)
Undeterred, Sen. Mitchell wrote that, “Article XIII did not receive the three-fourths vote required from the states within the time limit to be ratified.” (Although his language is imprecise, Sen. Mitchell seems to concede that although the Amendment had failed to satisfy the “time limit”, the required three-quarters of the states did vote to ratify.)
Dodge replies: “Contrary to your assertion.., there was no time limit for amendment ratification in 1811. Any time limit is now established by Congress in the Resolves for proposed amendments.”
In fact, ratification time limits didn’t start until 1917, when Sect. 3 of the Eighteenth Amendment stated that, “This Article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified within seven years from the date of submission … to the States by Congress.” A similar time limit is now included on other proposed Amendments, but there was no specified time limit when the 13th Amendment was proposed in 1810 or ratified in 1819.
Sen. Mitchell remained determined to find some rationale, somewhere, that would defeat Dodge’s persistence. Although Sen. Mitchell implicitly conceded that his “published by error” and “time limit” arguments were invalid, he continued to grope for reasons to dispute the ratification: “… regardless of whether the state of Virginia did ratify the proposed Thirteenth Amendment… on March 12, 1819, this approval would not have been sufficient to amend the Constitution.
In 1819, there were twenty-one states in the United States and any amendment would have required approval of sixteen states to amend the Constitution. According to your own research, Virginia would have only been the thirteenth state to approve the proposed amendment.” Dodge replies: “Article V [amendment procedures] of the Constitution is silent on the question of whether or not the framers meant three-fourths of the states at the time the proposed amendment is submitted to the states for ratification, or three-fourths of the states that exist at some future point in time. Since only the existing states were involved in the debate and vote of Congress on the Resolve proposing an Amendment, it is reasonable that ratification be limited to those States that took an active part in the Amendment process.”
Dodge demonstrated this rationale by pointing out that, “President Monroe had his Secretary of State… [ask the] governors of Virginia, South Carolina, and Connecticut, in January, 1818, as to the status of the amendment in their respective states. The four new states (Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, and Illinois) that were added to the union between 1810 and 1818 were not even considered.”
From a modern perspective, it seems strange that not all states would be included in the ratification process. But bear in mind that this perspective is based on life in a stable nation that’s added only five new states in this century — about one every eighteen years. However, between 1803 and 1821 (when the 13th Amendment ratification drama unfolded), they added eight states — almost one new state every two years. This rapid national growth undoubtedly fostered national attitudes different from our own. The government had to be filled with the euphoria of a growing Republic that expected to quickly add new states all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the Isthmus of Panama. The government would not willingly compromise or complicate that growth potential with procedural obstacles; to involve every new state in each on-going ratification could inadvertently slow the nation’s growth.
For example, if a territory petitioned to join the Union while an Amendment was being considered, its access to statehood might depend on whether the territory expected to ratify or reject a proposed amendment. If the territory was expected to ratify the proposed Amendment government, officials who favored the Amendment might try to accelerate the territory’s entry into the Union. On the other hand, those opposed to the Amendment might try to slow or even deny a particular territory’s statehood. These complications could unnecessarily slow the entry of new states into the nation, or restrict the nation’s ability to pass new Amendments. Neither possibility could appeal to politicians.
Whatever the reason, the House of Representatives resolved to ask only Connecticut, South Carolina, and Virginia for their decision on ratifying the 13th Amendment — they did not ask for the decisions of the four new states. Since the new states had Representatives in the House who did not protest when the resolve was passed, it’s apparent that even the new states agreed that they should not be included in the ratification process.
In 1818, the President, the House of Representatives, the Secretary of State, the four “new” states, and the seventeen “old” states, all clearly believed that the support of just thirteen states was required to ratify the 13th Amendment. That being so, Virginia’s vote to ratify was legally sufficient to ratify the “missing’ Amendment in 1819 (and would still be so today).
INSULT TO INJURY
Apparently persuaded by Dodge’s various arguments and proofs that the “missing” 13th Amendment had satisfied the Constitutional requirements for ratification, Mr. Hartgrove (National Archives) wrote back that Virginia had nevertheless failed to satisfy the bureaucracy’s procedural requirements for ratification:
“Under current legal provisions, the Archivist of the United States is empowered to certify that he has in his custody the correct number of state certificates of ratification of a proposed Constitutional amendment to constitute its ratification by the United States of America as a whole. In the nineteenth century, that function was performed by the Secretary of State. Clearly, the Secretary of State never received a certificate of ratification of the title of nobility amendment from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which is why that amendment failed to become the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
This is an extraordinary admission. Mr. Hartgrove implicitly concedes that the 13th Amendment was ratified by Virginia and satisfied the Constitution’s ratification requirements. However, Hartgrove then insists that the ratification was nevertheless justly denied because the Secretary of State was not properly notified with a “certificate of ratification”. In other words, the government’s last, best argument that the 13th Amendment was not ratified boils down to this:
Though the Amendment satisfied Constitutional requirement for ratification, it is nonetheless missing from our Constitution simply because a single, official sheet of paper is missing in Washington.
Mr. Hartgrove implies that despite the fact that three-quarters of the States in the Union voted to ratify an Amendment, the will of the legislators and the people of this nation should be denied because somebody screwed up and lost a single “certificate of ratification”. This “certificate” may be missing because either:
- Virginia failed to file a proper notice; or
- The notice was “lost in the mail”; or
- The notice was lost, unrecorded, misplaced, or intentionally destroyed, by some bureaucrat in Washington D.C.
This final excuse insults every American’s political rights, but Mr. Hartgrove nevertheless offers a glimmer of hope: If the National Archives “received a certificate of ratification of the title of nobility amendment from the Commonwealth of Virginia, we would inform Congress and await further developments.” In other words, the issue of whether this 13th Amendment was ratified and is, or is not, a legitimate Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is not merely a historical curiosity — the ratification issue is still alive.
But most importantly, Hartgrove implies that the only remaining argument against the 13th Amendment’s ratification is a procedural error involving the absence of a “certificate of ratification”.
Dodge countered Hartgrove’s procedure argument by citing some of the ratification procedures recorded for other states when the 13th Amendment was being considered. He notes that according to the Journal of the House of Representatives. 11th Congress, 2nd Session, at p. 241, a “letter” (not a “certificate of ratification”) from the Governor of Ohio announcing Ohio’s ratification was submitted not to the Secretary of State but rather to the House of Representatives where it “was read and ordered to lie on the table.” Likewise, “The Kentucky ratification was also returned to the House, while Maryland’s earlier ratification is not listed as having been returned to Congress.”
The House Journal implies that since Ohio and Kentucky were not required to notify the Secretary of State of their ratification decisions, there was likewise no requirement that Virginia file a “certificate of ratification” with the Secretary of State. Again, despite arguments to the contrary, it appears that the “missing” Amendment was Constitutionally ratified and should not be denied because of some possible procedural error.
QUICK, MEN! TO THE ARCHIVES!
Each of Sen. Mitchell’s and Mr. Hartgrove’s arguments against ratificationbhave been overcome or badly weakened. Still, some of the evidence supporting ratification is inferential; some of the conclusions are only implied. But it’s no wonder that there’s such an austere sprinkling of hard evidence surrounding this 13th Amendment:
According to The Gazette (5/10/91), the Library of Congress has 349,402 un-catalogued rare books and 13.9 million un-catalogued rare manuscripts. The evidence of ratification seems tantalizingly close but remains buried in those masses of un-catalogued documents, waiting to be found. It will take some luck and some volunteers to uncover the final proof.
We have an Amendment that looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck. But because we have been unable to find the eggshell from which it hatched in 1819, Sen. Mitchell and Mr. Hartgrove insist we can’t … quite … absolutely prove it’s a duck, and therefore, the government is under no obligation to concede it’s a duck. Maybe so. But if we can’t prove it’s a duck, they can’t prove it’s not. If the proof of ratification is not quite conclusive, the evidence against ratification is almost nonexistent, largely a function of the government’s refusal to acknowledge the proof. We are left in the peculiar position of boys facing bullies in the schoolyard. We show them proof that they should again include the “missing” 13th Amendment on the Constitution; they sneer and jeer and taunt us with cries of “make us”. Perhaps we shall.
It’s worth noting that Rick Donaldson, another researcher, uncovered certified copies of the 1865 and 1867 editions of the Colorado Civil Codes which also contain the missing Amendment. Although these editions were stored in the Colorado state archive, their existence was previously un-catalogued and unknown to the Colorado archivists.
This raises a fantastic possibility. If there’s insufficient evidence that Virginia did ratify in 1819, there is no evidence that Virginia did not. Therefore, since there was no time limit specified when the Amendment was proposed, and since the government clearly believed only Virginia’s vote remained to be counted in the ratification issue, the current state legislature of Virginia could theoretically vote to ratify the Amendment, send the necessary certificates to Washington, and thereby add the Amendment to the Constitution.
Was it ratified? There is a lot of evidence that it was. Could all of the following publications have been in error?
The following states and/or territories have published the Titles of Nobility amendment in their official publications as a ratified amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
|Colorado||1861, 1862, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868|
|Connecticut||1821, 1824, 1835, 1839|
|[?] Dakota||1862, 1863, 1867|
|Florida||1823, 1825, 1838|
|Georgia||1819, 1822, 1837, 1846|
|Illinois||1823, 1825, 1827, 1833, 1839, dis. 1845|
|Indiana||1824, 1831, 1838|
|Iowa||1839, 1842, 1843|
|Kansas||1855, 1861, 1862, 1868|
|Louisiana||1825, 1838/1838 [two separate publications]|
|Mississippi||1823, 1824, 1839|
|Missouri||1825, 1835, 1840, 1841, 1845*|
|Nebraska||1855, 1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861, 1862, 1873|
|North Carolina||1819, 1828|
|Ohio||1819, 1824, 1831, 1833, 1835, 1848|
|Pennsylvania||1818, 1824, 1831|
|Totals:||24 States in 78 separate official government publications.|
|Note: “Pimsleur’s”, a checklist of legal publications, does not list many of the above volumes. * This volume was published twice in 1845. The first published the “Titles of Nobility” amendment, the second was published right after Congress set the requirements for Missouri’s admission as a State. The “Titles of Nobility” amendment was replaced with a notation that this amendment was printed in error in 1835.|
“The History of the World”
Samuel Maunder, Harper, New York, 1850, vol. 2, p.462. Republished by Wm. Burtis, Baltimore, 1856, vol. 2, p.462.
“The Rights of an American Citizen”
Benj. Oliver, Counsellor at Law, Boston, 1832, p. 89.
“Laws of the United States of America”
Bioren and Duane, Philadelphia & Washington, 1815, vol. 1, p.74. [See: Note]
“The American Politician”
M. Sears, Boston, 1842, p.27.
“Constitution of the United States”
C.A. Cummings, Lynn, Massachusetts, not dated, p.35.
Political Text Book Containing the Declaration of Independence”
Edward Currier, Blake, Holliston, Mass. 1841, p.129.
“Brief Exposition of the Constitution of the United States for the use of Common Schools”
John S. Hart, A.M. (Principal of Philadelphia High School and Professor of Moral Mental and Political Science), Butler and Co., Philadelphia, 1850, p.100.
H. Potter, U.S. District Court Judge, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1828, p.404, 2nd Edition [the 1st Ed., 1816, does not have “Titles of Nobility”].
Note: The “Laws of the United States” was published by John Duane. Without doubt, Duane was aware of Virginia’s plan to ratify this amendment which targeted, amongst other things, the emolument of banking and the agents of foreign banking interests, the attorneys. Currency manipulation led to the failure of numerous banks and in turn to many a personal bankruptcy, including that of Thomas Jefferson. The allegiance of attorneys** has always been with the money state, whether pharaoh, caesar, monarch or corporate monopoly.
** See: “Acts of Virginia”, Feb. 20, 1812, p.143.
The Court, in “Horst v. Moses”, 48 Alabama 129, 142 (1872) gave the following description of a title of nobility:
To confer a title of nobility, is to nominate to an order of persons to whom privileges are granted at the expense of the rest of the people. It is not necessarily hereditary, and the objection to it rises more from the privileges supposed to be attached than to the otherwise empty title or order. These components are forbidden separately in the terms “privilege”, “honor”, and “emoluments”, as they are collectively in the term “title of nobility”. The prohibition is not affected by any consideration paid or rendered for the grant.
“Bouvier’s Law Dictionary”, 15th Edition, vol. 1 (1885) lists the due process amendments as 5 and 15 [15 was re-numbered to 14] on p.571.
The prohibition of titles of nobility stops the claim of eminent domain through fictions of law. Eminent domain is the legal euphemism for expropriation, and unreasonable seizure given sanction by the targets of this amendment.
The debate goes on. The mystery continues to unfold. The answer lies buried in the archives. If you are close to a state archive or large library anywhere in the USA, please search for editions of the U.S. Constitution printed between 1819 and 1870.
If you will, please check your state’s archives and libraries to review any copies of the Constitution printed prior to the Civil War, or any books containing prints of the Constitution before 1870. If you locate anything related to this project we would appreciate hearing from you so we may properly fulfill this effort of research.
If you find more evidence of the “missing” 13th Amendment please contact:
Taos, New Mexico, 87571