There are conspiracy theories, and then there conspiracy theories. New Hampshire’s House appears to be prepared to venture down the path of one such theory in order to attack the state’s judiciary: the “original” 13th Amendment.
In 1810 Congress did in fact submit to the states the Titles of Nobility Amendment (TONA), as confirmed by the U.S. House, which read:
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 U.S. House also confirms TONA was never ratified.
Based upon faulty information (that BOTH chambers of the South Carolina legislature approved TONA when in fact only one chamber did) publications at the time identified TONA as the 13th Amendment, but courts have consistently held that in fact the amendment was never ratified.
Nevertheless, the amendment has been cited and used to explain why attorneys are prevented from holding office, under the theory that the word “Esquire” attached to attorneys names (e.g. John H. Doe, Esq.) is a “title of nobility” granted by the Crown of England via the International Bar Association through the American Bar Association.
Into this steps New Hampshire HB 638 of 2013, which adds an addition element: namely that South Carolina did in ratify around 1810 but amid the civil war Abraham Lincoln declared martial law, incorporated the United States into the District of Columbia with a new Constitution that did not include the “original” 13th, and adopted the one currently known to Americans as the one that banned slavery.
Below is the operative portions of the bill, including the claim that passage and recognition of the “original” 13th will upend the state’s judiciary:
V. The purpose of this act is to recognize that the original Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits titles of nobility, is properly included in the United States Constitution and is the law of the land. The act is also intended to end the infiltration of the Bar Association and the judicial branch into the executive and legislative branches of government and the unlawful usurpation of the people’s right, guaranteed by the New Hampshire constitution, to elect county attorneys who are not members of the bar. This unlawful usurpation gives the judicial branch control over all government and the people in the grand juries. As long as the original Thirteenth Amendment is concealed from the people, there shall never be justice or a legitimate constitutional form of government.
2 New Chapter; Thirteenth Amendment. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 1-A the following new chapter:
ORIGINAL THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT
1-B:1 Original Thirteenth Amendment. The following shall be recognized as the original Thirteenth Amendment to the United States 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.
3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.