Brian H. MarchNovember 6, 1996
4845 Los Serranos Court, N. W.
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87120
Senator Pete V. Domenici (R-NM)
328 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Representative Bill Richardson (D-NM)
2209 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-3103
Senator Paul Simon (D-IL)
462 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX)
2443 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-4321
Re: Putting the record straight -- the "Titles of Nobility" Amendment vs. The Representatives of the National Archives, Library of Congress and others.
Permit me to begin by thanking each of you for expressing your desire to help David M. Dodge, Thomas S. Dunn and me with the above referenced subject.
As you know from our meeting(s), the "Titles of Nobility" Amendment (Article XIII of the Constitution) was introduced in the latter part of 1809. After a few revisions, it was approved by both Houses of Congress and sent to the seventeen "several States" for ratification. The requisite number of States, at that time, would have been thirteen.
Article XIII reads:
"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 whatsoever, 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. "
You may also recall that this matter is very extensive in its scope. So much so that it has been very difficult to reason with certain officials in Washington, whose opinions on this subject, apparently, are morc important and more significant than the historical documents; these same documents that they try to use to support their respective opinions. This historical record needs to be studied carefully to establish what truly is, and to separate opinions from fact.
Even though the existence of Article XIII involves many issues, there is one that is of paramount importance -- that should be addressed, and resolved, before we continue with the other issues. Article V of the Constitution for the United States of America provided a means to make change, as conditions necessitated. Article V reads, in part, "The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, ... which... shall be valid, to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States... " The confusion comes over exactly what "when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States... " means.
As you can plainly see, there are two distinct requirements for the amendment portion of Article V.", First is the requirement that two-thirds of Both houses of Congress 'propose' the amendment to the states for ratification (three-fourths needed). Presumably, there is s degree of familiarity with the issue of the proposed amendment, and it has been deemed worthy of submission to be considered as an amendment to the Constitution. This action being successfully completed, those states who are a party to this action are then requested to ratify, or not, the amendment. This process is singular in nature, and requires the two steps to be completed. Example: When a territory became a State (or states), it would have been impossible for the new state(s) to complete both criteria of the ratification process. As a result, the new state(s) would not have participated in the entire Article V process. Clearly, as you will see from the historical evidence below, this complete participation was absolutely necessary for inclusion in consideration of ratification.
Let us suppose that three-fourths of the "several States" are needed to ratify, but only three- fourths of those states who were members at the time of obtaining the two-thirds vote to submit to the states. If this were true, we could conclude that there would be no consideration of input from any states which were not members of the Union at that point in time in which the first action were completed. If this is true, then only those seventeen states which were members would be considered with regard to ratification.
Suppose that Article XIII was left open for question today. How many states would be required to ratify the Amendment? If Monroe, Adams and those other government and political experts of the day were to revisit the ratification today, would they have requested of all fifty states a report on the status of the ratification process? Would they seek to determine if thirty-three states had ratified the amendment? The answer, as you will clearly see, is, NO. Those thirty-three states that have entered the Union since 1810 would be ignored with regard to the ratification process. The historical record demonstrates that only thirteen of the then 17 "several States," when it was proposed, would be required for ratification.
Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, South Carolina and Virginia were the only States in the Union at the time of the discussing, and the only States that participated in the "deem it necessary" phase of Article V, at the Second Session of the Eleventh Congress. Keep this in mind, and we will revisit this aspect later on.
It is the opinion of Milton Gustafson, and Christopher Runkel, of the National Archives and Jack Maskell of the Library of Congress, along with a few others, that it requires a total of three- fourths of the states, when ratified. This is clear by their continued assertion that by 1819, when Virginia shows Article XIII as ratified, there were twenty-one states and that sixteen would be required for ratification. They extend this concept to today by claiming that, if this Amendment were still left open to question, 38 states would be required for ratification. Their conclusions, however, stand without historic proof or merit.
In the Government Publication, "Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the year 1896 -- in Two Volumes, Vol. II.", is an essay titled "The Proposed Amendments To The Constitution Of The United States Of America During The First Century Of Its History", by Herman V. Ames, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, [entered into the record of the House of Representatives for the 54th Congress, 2d Session., HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES., Doc. No. 353, Part 2]. One of the amendments discussed by Ames was Article XIII. On page 329, Ames reports on the status of the ratification (1818) by twelve states, rejection by four, and that there is no record from Virginia. Ames, like Monroe, Adams and all the other political people of the time, concludes that only the original participants in the debates (seventeen States) were accountable to determine if there was a proper ratification or not. No mention is made of Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, or any other state that joined the Union after 1810. Different government officials today use Ames for their various arguments against this amendment. These same officials refuse to acknowledge that Ames is in agreement with our position that this Amendment only needed thirteen of the original seventeen states to ratify (ie. three-fourths, when proposed).
Our research of the historical records paints a different picture. It is the very documents that the National Archives has provided us that bring light to this subject, and provide overwhelming evidence that three-fourths means when proposed.
Let's look at the records we found at the National Archives. Exhibit 1 is a Resolve from the House of Representatives. dated December 31st, 1817, to President Monroe, making an inquiry into the number of States who had ratified Article XIII. As of this date, there were 20 States in the Union.
Exhibit 2 is a Circular from the journal of John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, dated January 7,  to the Governors of the three States they had not received information from. There is no other circular to be found that mentions the recently added States of Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi, requesting information regarding any consideration of Article XIII.
Exhibit 3 is a letter from President Monroe, dated February 6, 1818, to the House of Representatives.
Exhibit 4 is a letter from President Monroe, dated February 4, 1818, to the House of Representatives, stating, in part, "I transmit to the house a detailed report from the secretary of state, which contains all the information that has been received upon that subject." Surely, President Monroe knew more than the current staff of the National Archives and the Library of Congress as to whether Louisiana, Indiana or Mississippi should be considered with regard to the ratification of this Amendment. Apparently, he felt that there was no need to contact these three States with regard to any action they may have taken. Additionally, any action they may have taken would not be worthy of consideration by himself or the House of Representatives.
Exhibit 5 (a & b) is a two page report from the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, dated February 3rd, , to the House of Representatives. In this report, Adams stated that 12 States had ratified Article XIII, three States had rejected it, and he had no information from South Carolina and Virginia. Adams was only concerned with the seventeen "several States" who had participated in the initial process under Article V of the Constitution. He does not report with regard to Louisiana, Indiana or Mississippi, and, obviously, does not consider them a part of the process. Equally, he would surely be aware that they were, by the date of his report, members of the Union.
From 1818 through 1820, our research of the legislative records, Governor's correspondence, and the Secretary of United States journals, has not been able to turn up any evidence of a complaint being lodged by the legislators/governors of the 17 States who had participated, nor by any of the three states representatives who were not included in the ratification process. No Representatives or Senators from any of the twenty States, then members, complained or made issue with the report of John Quincy Adams, nor the President's position in the matter. Nor have we been able to turn up any evidence of complaints in any of the States (all twenty) archives. The only objections seem to come from those on staff at the Archives and the Library, today.
Exhibit 6 is a letter from President Monroe, dated February 27, 1818, to the House of Representatives concerning the action that South Carolina took upon this Amendment. It appears that South Carolina failed to ratify.
Exhibit 7 is a letter from .John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, dated March 21 , to Charles Buck, states, in part, "Upon a return from the Executive of Virginia, for which application has been made by this Dept. it will be known with precision what is the fate of the proposed amendment, and no time will be lost in communicating it to you."
By this letter, it is clear that if Virginia had/has done nothing up to the present day, this amendment's fate would still rest, solely, with Virginia. This letter, makes it clear that only the seventeen States were considered participants in the ratification process. This left only Virginia to determine the fate of the Amendment.
Clearly, the above is unequivocal proof that those Founders still alive during consideration of the Titles of Nobility Amendment recognized what had been intended by the wording in Article V of the Constitution, with regard to the method of submission and ratification of amendments to the Constitution. Unless proof to the contrary can be produced, or unless you are willing to circumvent one of the greatest documents in modern history, which you have sworn to uphold and defend, you must conclude that the ratification process excludes all States who became members of the Union AFTER the submission of this Amendment to the states for ratification.
Those who have come to a conclusion contrary to what has been stated above, should be held to account, and provide proof to the contrary. This proof must be from the historic record, as are ours.
If there is no documented proof to the contrary, it is imperative that the National Archives and the Library of Congress be informed of their error, and the record set straight. Acknowledgment of the proper process must be provided, in writing, and officially, so as to preclude subsequent diminishment of that sacred document, and all consideration of the ratification of any amendment to the Constitution held to the standards established by our forefathers. A few men desiring, for whatever purpose, to revise the Constitution by actions, rather than fact, should not be tolerated. To allow this practice in this subject, or any other, is to convert a government of law to a government of men.
If, for any reason, the conclusion expressed above seems vague or ambiguous, David, Thomas and I, would be more than happy to present these matters to an open Congressional hearing.. Further, I would appreciate being provided a copy of any correspondence in this matter.
Finally, I have attached a copy of a letter of introduction received from Senator Pete Domenici. If the other recipients of this letter would be so kind as to provide similar letters of introduction, it may facilitate our continued research.
I await, anxiously, your response to this letter, Thank You, I am, &c., &c.,
[signature] Brian H. March
attachments: Exhibits 1 though 7
letter of introduction
David M. Dodge
"... It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires in people's minds." . . . . . Samuel Adams
Exhibit 1 - Resolve from House of Representatives, Dec. 31, 1817 to President Monroe
Exhibit 2 - Circular from Journal of John Quincy Adams, Jan. 7, 1818
Exhibit 3 - Letter from President Monroe, Feb. 6, 1818
Exhibit 4 - Letter from President Monroe, Feb. 4, 1818
Exhibit 5a - Report from John Quincy Adams, Secty of State, Feb. 3, 1818, page 1
Exhibit 5b - Report from John Quincy Adams, Secty of State, Feb. 3, 1818, page 2
Exhibit 6 - Letter from President Monroe, Feb. 27, 1818
Exhibit 7 - Letter from John Quincy Adams, Secty of State, Mar. 21, 1818 to Charles Buck
Letter of Introduction - from Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM)
Titles of Nobility - DEFINITIONS - From: Webster 1828, Bouvier's 1848, Black's 1891
Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, by James D. Richardson, Volume II, page 26.
Washington, February 6, 1818.
To the House of Representatives of the United States:
I transmit to the House of Representatives a report of the Secretary of State, in compliance with the resolution of said House requesting information respecting the ratification of the thirteenth article of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
Report Book, Volume 3, page 15.
To the house of representatives
Pursuant to a resolution of the house of representatives of the 31st of Decr last requesting information of the number of states which had ratified the l3th article of the amendments to the constitution of the United States, I transmit to the house a detailed report from the secretary of state, which contains all the information that has been received upon that subject. No time will be lost in communicating to the house the answers of the governors of the states of South Carolina and Virginia, to the enquiries stated by the secretary of state to have been recently addressed to them, when they are received at that department.
Washington February 4. 1818
Report Book, Volume 3, pages 14, 15.
The President of the United States
Department of State 3d february
The secretary of state, to whom was referred a resolution of the house of representatives of the 31st of december last requesting information of the number of states which have ratified the thirteenth article of the amendments to the constitution of the United States, proposed at the second session of the eleventh congress, has the honor respectfully to report to the president, that it appears, by authentic documents, on file in the office of the department of state, that the said article was ratified --By
l. Maryland, on the 25th of december, 1810.
2. Kentucky, on the 31st of january, 1811.
3. Ohio, on the 31st of january, 1811.
4. Delaware, on the 2nd of february, 1811.
5. Pennsylvania, on the 6th of february, 1811.
6. New Jersey, on the 13th of february, 1811.
7. Vermont, on the 24th of october, 1811.
8. Tennessee, on the 21st of november, 1811.
9. Georgia, on the 13th of december, 1811.
10. North Carolina, on the 23d of december, 1811.
11. Massachusetts, on the 27th of february, 1812.
12. New Hampshire, on the 10th of december, 1812.
Report Book, Volume 3, pages 14, 15. [continued]
That it further appears, by authentic documents, also on file, that the said article was rejected -
13. New York, on the l2th of march, 1818.
14. Rhode Island, on the 15th of september, 1814.
l5. It was submitted to the legislature of the state of Connecticut at May session, 1811; but that, as late as the 22nd of April, 1813, according to a letter of that date from governor Smith, no final decision had taken place thereon: that in pursuance of the resolution of the house of representatives in conformity to which this report is made, the secretary of state addressed a letter to the governor of Connecticut, and enclosed to him, at the same time, a copy of the proposed amendment to the constitution, requesting information as to any final decision in relation to it, and that the answer to said letter, under date of the 22nd ultimo was accompanied by a copy of resolutions of the general assembly of that commonwealth, declaring that the amend.ment was not ratified.
16. On the 29th of november, 1811. a report was made by a committee of the senate of South Carolina, recommending the adoption of the amendatory article, which report was agreed to, and ordered to be sent to the house of representatives, in which house a report was also made on the subject on the 7th of december, 1813, recommending the rejection of the said article, but which report does not appear to have been definitively acted upon by that house: That the secretary of state addressed to the governor of South Carolina a letter, with a copy of the amendment, of a like tenor to that which he addressed to the governor of Connecticut, to which he has not hitherto received any answer.
17. A similar letter accompanied also by a copy of the amendment was written by the secretary of state to the governor of Virginia, from whom, up to this period, no answer has been received, at the department of state, on the subject.
All which is respectfully submitted
Messages and Papers of the presidents, 1789-1897, by James D. Richardson, Volume II, page 29.
February 27, 1818
To the House of Representatives of the United States:
I communicate herewith to the House of Representatives a copy of a letter from the governor of the State of South Carolina to the Secretary of State, together with extracts from the journals of proceedings in both branches of the legislature of that Commonwealth, relative to a proposed amendment of the Constitution, which letter and extracts are connected with the subject of my communication to the House of the 6th instant.
Titles of Nobility - DEFINITIONS
From: Noah Webster 1828
Bouvier's Law Dictionary 1848
Black's Law Dictionary 1891
Note: Because they are so similar, the definitions have been consolidated.
"Emolument": - A gain of profit or advantage.
"Foreign Power": - "Power" - a sovereign state; a controlling group; possession or control; authority or influence, political or otherwise.
"Honour": - One having dominion, advantage or privilege over another.
"Nobility": - Exalted rank - high social position.
"Title of Nobility": - An order of men, in several countries, to whom special privileges are granted,
"privileges": - To grant some particular right or exemption.
From a court case, in Horst v. Moses, 48 Ala. 123, 142 (1872), which gave the following description of "Titles 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 arises 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."
This HTML version of this Letter from Brian March
was placed on the web by Barefoot Bob,
Dec. 6, 1996, Last Revised Oct 14, 2002