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 ad- vantages) 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. [Emphasis added]

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: 1) 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 2) This amendment quietly disappeared from the Constitution near the end of the Civil War.

Either this Amendment: 1)Was unratified and mistakenly published for almost 50 years; or 2) Was 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.