A Deliberate Effort

The assertion is made that Connecticut rejected this Amendment, but I have been unable to determine where that information comes from: as of April 22, 1813 no definitive action was taken. Meanwhile, four times in the years from 1821 to 1839, the Amendment was published as part of the organic laws of Connecticut. That is a considerable number of state editions to be issued by mistake, and consecutively. Both Missouri and Connecticut published this section as valid in the year of 1835.

"Nothing can be more unfortunate for the United States, than for those citizens who hold the power of leading fashion to grow by degrees into a mock nobility, employing their wealth and influence to try to refine laziness and make vice attractive, instead of feeling an interest in the welfare of their country." Those comments were written in July of 1821 by William S. Cardell, Esquire, of New York City.

He was the corresponding secretary of the American Academy of Languages and Belles-Lettres, and his essay circulated to all of the leading intellectuals of that era, including John Quincy Adams, and Daniel and Noah Webster. The tone of this essay, and its commentary on education for the general public, clearly indicate that the topic of "titles of nobility" was common to the intellectual currency of the day.

"If our patriots and philanthropists cannot succeed in an enlightened course of instruction, it will be eventually found ... necessary to check the depradations of felons." Virginia's ratification in 1819 had to be common knowledge, otherwise why would these leading thinkers be concerned with a proposition that had failed six or more years earlier? Among the leaders of this Academy was vice-president Joseph Story, who was also a justice of the Massachusetts court. Story was part and parcel of the legal establishment of the 1820s, he had to know that his state issued a version of the Constitution with the Amendment in place in 1823. Therefore, when in 1828 he published the "Public and General Statutes passed by Congress 1789-1827" and omitted any mention of the "Title of Nobility" section or the resolution of Congress in 1810, it was not an oversight but a deliberate, calculated effort to suppress a lawful portion of the Constitution. The publishing agents were Wells & Lilly of Boston, and every other aspect of the Congressional business done in 1810 agrees with other extant publications. Joseph Story is either the father or great uncle of the decades-long struggle to eliminate this Amendment, and it is up to the apologists for this conspiracy to explain his motives. As a member of the Academy mentioned previously, as a state supreme court judge, he was as well-informed as any man of that era could be. Why did he conspire to suppress the "Title of Nobility" section, the original Thirteenth Amendment?

Richard C. Green

Added August 5, 1997

Many pages of the Revised Code of Virginia, as published in 1819 and showing the original Thirteenth Amendment as ratified and the valid Article 13, are now available on the World Wide Web. This is from page thirty of the original manuscript, an additional copy of which was recently discovered in the University of California at Santa Cruz law library.