A few months back there was quite a lot of traffic concerning the
"lost" 13th amendment. It has recently been mentioned again, so this may be a
good time to bring this up. I was able to contact the researchers, David Dodge, Tom Dunn
and Brian March and get a copy of the latest report on this topic. Many of you are very
familiar with this story, but there is relatively new information concerning the records
that exist which substantiate the validity of the claim that the "Titles of
Nobility" was actually ratified. It is necessary to go through the report carefully,
but it seems certain from the documents that have been found at the National Archives and
elsewhere that TON was legally ratified. For those who are new to this I will re-hash the
old news and weave in the new as I go along.
In 1983, two independent researchers, David Dodge and Tom Dunn, while looking for evidence of political corruption in a library in Belfast Maine, stumbled across an 1825 copy of the Maine Civil Code. In this document, as I believe is customary, the Constitution of the U.S. was printed. They noticed that Article Thirteen of the amendments was not the same Article Thirteen which is now enumerated in the Constitution. This Article Thirteen, which is known as the "Titles of Nobility" amendment, (TON) reads as follows:
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.
The post went on to say that the researchers had carried on a written communication with Sen. George Mitchell (D. Maine) and as I recall, someone named Hargrave from the National Archives in Washington DC. It appears that the original position of Mitchell and Hargrave was that this was simply a printing error and that it had been immediately corrected upon discovery. This does not appear to be the case. Dodge and Dunn went on to find, at last count, 24 different state legislatures which printed this amendment as Article Thirteen, in 77 separate editions of their respective Civil Codes. This occurred over a period from 1818 until 1876. It has also been found in school text books and other publications from that period. At first I was very skeptical, but now I have seen 2nd generation photo copies of all of these documents. Almost every document carries a stamp from the library where it was found. In some cases where the document was hand written I have only seen a typed version, but after speaking with the researchers at length, I am sure that these typed reproductions are faithful. In total, they present compelling evidence that the original Article Thirteen was wrongfully removed from the Constitution.
Gradually the position of Senator Mitchell and others at the National Archive changed. (Paraphrased from the letters between Dodge and Mitchell). One such position was that the article in question had been proposed in the 11th congress, 2nd session in 1810 and subsequently ratified by only 12 states before the close of 1812. As there were 17 states at the time that the Amendment was proposed it required that 13 states ratify, and this did not happen. Dodge and Dunn continued their research. They found a circular letter, dated 7, Jan. 1818, commissioned by the House of Representatives for President James Monroe and written by then Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams. It was sent to only 3 states, of the original 17, that had not yet responded, as to their disposition on the proposed Thirteenth Article. Virginia was one of those states. Dodge and Dunn now went to the Library of Congress and were allowed access to the rare book room. There they found an un-cataloged book entitled "The Revised Code of the Laws of Virginia", 1819. The amendment was there, listed as the Thirteenth Article of the U.S. Constitution. This, of course, indicated that a 13th state had indeed ratified the amendment, constituting a 3/4 majority of the states of the Union at the time the amendment was proposed... and now, the Senator's position changes once again. They responded to Dodge by saying that since there were 21 states by the time that Virginia ratified in 1818 or 1819, 13 was no longer enough to bring the amendment into law. They contended that It would have then required 16 votes to ratify, not 13.
This appears to be the current position of Senator Mitchell and the National Archives, although the Archives legal department has not yet formally responded to the question. The Constitution is **silent** on what is to be done concerning the addition of new states during the ratification process. Furthermore, the four new states (Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi and Illinois) who, Senator Mitchell and the archivists, claim should have been considered in this process, all, **without exception**, carried the "Titles of Nobility" amendment on their U.S. Constitutions for at least several years after 1818 or 1819. It would appear that those state's own legislatures considered this to be the law of the land.
There are some documents which have been uncovered that are not included in the current edition of the report. Brian March did a thorough search of the archives in the four states that were added during the ratification process. No evidence was found to indicate that the Secretary of State polled them as too their response on the amendment. !!!THEY WERE NOT CONSIDERED!!! and as I said earlier, all four states have been shown to have published the TON amendment. The letters from those state archives are among the documents not included in the report. I have seen copies of all the documents. These guys have done some tremendous research and documented everything very well.
Another "report to the President" of Feb 3, 1818, a time when the four states had already been admitted, also lists specifically the states that were involved in the ratification and !!! AGAIN, THE NEW STATES ARE NOT CONSIDERED!!! Again, this report was not available when they went to press. If you ask Brian to include some of the new material I feel certain that he will.
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