The Ghostfighters

May 10, 2010

The “missing” 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States


The “missing” 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads
as follows:

“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.”

At the first reading, the meaning of this 13th Amendment (also called the
“title of nobility” Amendment) seems obscure, unimportant. The references to
“nobility”, “honour”, “emperor”, “king”, and “prince” lead us to dismiss
this amendment as a petty post-revolution act of spite directed against the
British monarchy. But in our modern world of Lady Di and Prince Charles,
anti-royalist sentiments seem so archaic and quaint, that the Amendment can
be ignored. Not so. Consider some evidence of its historical significance:

* First, “titles of nobility” were prohibited in both Article VI of the
Articles of Confederation (1777) and in Article I, Sections 9 and 10 of
the Constitution of the United States (1787);
* Second, although already prohibited by the Constitution, an additional
“title of nobility” amendment was proposed in 1789, again in 1810, and
according to Dodge, finally ratified in 1819.

Clearly, the founding fathers saw such a serious threat in “titles of
nobility” and “honors” that anyone receiving them would forfeit their
citizenship. Since the government prohibited “titles of nobility” several
times over four decades, and went through the amending process (even though
“titles of nobility” were already prohibited by the Constitution), it’s
obvious that the Amendment carried much more significance for our founding
fathers than is readily apparent today..

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