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The United States Constitution is ratified with New Hampshire becoming the ninth state to ratify. Article I, Sections 9 and 10 of the Constitution contain provisions that clearly prohibit the federal government and the states from granting titles:
No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex postfacto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.
However, no penalty for violating the Article is specified.
March 4 – September 25
The U.S. House of Representatives compiles a list of possible Constitutional Amendments, some of which will ultimately become the Bill of Rights. The House proposes seventeen of many offered; the Senate reduces the list to twelve. During this process Senator Tristram Dalton (Mass.) proposes an Amendment seeking to prohibit and provide a penalty for any American accepting a “title of nobility” (RG 46 Records of the U.S. Senate). Although it isn’t passed, this is the first time a “title of nobility” amendment is proposed.
April 30, 1789
George Washington is inaugurated and begins his term as the first President of the United States. He is a successful planter, surveyor, soldier and militia commander, member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, Virginia Delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the War for Independence and was Chairman of the Constitutional Convention. Washington was also the first President of the Society of Cincinnati, in which membership was to be hereditary and carried a Title of Nobility. The Society’s main purpose was to influence public affairs.
William Branch Giles takes office in the House of Representatives.
John Adams begins his term as President of the United States. A Harvard educated attorney, he has served as Massachusetts delegate to the 1st Continental Congress, a diplomat in France and Holland during the Revolutionary War, Minister to the Court of St. James, and Vice President under George Washington.
The first case decided by the U. S. Supreme Court involving the ratification of a constitutional amendment is Hollingsworth v. Virginia, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 378 (1798). A challenge is made to the ratification of the Eleventh Amendment and it is contended that this amendment is void for the reason that the President had not approved the amendment. The Court, in one of the shortest decisions ever made, rules against this argument. Justice Salmon Chase explains in the written decision that the President is not involved in the amendment process.
George Washington dies in Virginia.
Thomas Jefferson begins his term as President of the United States. A planter from Virginia, he is trained in law, has served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, Delegate to the 1st Continental Congress, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Governor of Virginia, Minister to France, Secretary of State under George Washington and Vice President of the United States under John Adams.
Senator William Branch Giles of Virginia arrives to serve in the U.S. Senate.
James Madison begins his term as President of the United States. Educated at Princeton, he helped frame the Virginia Constitution in 1776, and had served as a Delegate to the Continental Congress and the Virginia Convention of 1788, author of The Federalist, Virginia Assemblyman, “Father” of the Constitution, framer of the Bill of Rights, and Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson.
The 17 states in the union on this date include: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Virginia.
Senator Phillip Reed of Maryland proposes a “title of nobility” Amendment (History of Congress, Proceedings of the Senate, p. 529-530). The first version of the Titles Of Nobility Amendment (or TONA) is read to the Senate.
“If any citizen of the United States, shall accept of any title of nobility, from any king, prince or foreign state, such citizen shall thence forth be incapable of holding any office of honor or profit, under the United States.”
A revised version of the proposed amendment is read to the Senate. The proposed amendment revokes the citizenship of those who violate the prohibition, and renders them ineligible to hold public office.
“If any citizen of the United States, shall accept of any title of nobility, or of any other title of distinction from any emperor, king prince, potentate, or foreign state, or shall hold the same by descent, or shall intermarry with any descendent of any emperor, king or prince, or with any person of the blood royal, such citizen shall thenceforth, be incapable of exercising or enjoying any of the rights and immunities of a free citizen of the United States, or of the individual states ; and shall also be incapable of holding any office of honor, profit or trust under them, or either of them.”
The TONA (Titles of Nobility Amendment) is recommitted to a select committee consisting of Senators Phillip Reed (Md.), William Branch Giles (Va.), Michael Leib (Pa.), William H. Crawford (Ga.) and Timothy Pickering (Ma.), for further consideration.
An amended version of the TONA is reported to the Senate which includes the phrase “title of distinction,” but this language is too cumbersome in construction even for these flowery times. The phrase is stricken.
“No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States : and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall without the consent of Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign state. And if any citizen of the United States shall accept of any title of nobility or of any other title of distinction, above or below that of nobility, from any emperor, king, prince or foreign state, or shall hold the same by descent, such citizen shall henceforth be incapable of exercising or enjoying any of the rights and immunities of a free citizen of the United States, or of the individual states; and shall also be incapable of holding any office of profit or trust, under them, or either of them.”
Thomas Jefferson writes in a letter to Governor Langdon of New Hampshire and referring to the European governments states, “The question whether a measure is moral, is never asked; whether it will nourish the avarice of their merchants, or the piratical spirit of their navy, or produce any other effect which may strengthen them [the aristocrats] in their places.”
The committee again reports an amended proposal of the TONA to the Senate.
“If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim or hold any title of nobility or honor derived from any emperor, king, prince or other foreign power, such person shall thenceforth 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.”
A motion to delay voting on the proposed amendment is defeated, 8 to 20 by the vote. The
On motion the Senate votes to pass the 13th Amendment proposal by a vote of 26 to 1.
“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 resolution was so engrossed and read a third time, and the President of the Senate reported it to the house accordingly. [Journal of the Senate]
With considerable support both from Federalists in New York and Massachusetts, and Democratic-Republicans in the south, the TONA is approved by a vote of 87- 3 in the House. Eighteen of the 21 members from Virginia vote for it. Seventeen of the 18 members from Pennsylvania vote for it, while those from New York number 7 for it, 6 absent or not voting, and 1 against. The final proposed amendment 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 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 Resolution is signed by J.B. Varnum, Speaker of the House, John Gaillard, President of the Senate pro tempore, and certified by Sam A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate, and is sent to the states for ratification. Ratification will now require passage by 13 (three fourths) of the 17 states in the Union.
Maryland ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 1st of 13 states required. Cover letter and Resolution addressed to James Monroe as Secretary of State, cover letter and Resolution transmittal to Edward Lloyd, Esquire, Governor of Maryland. Resolution signed by Clerk of the House, Clerk of the Senate, certified by a Clerk of the Court of Appeals.MD
Kentucky ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 2nd of 13 states required.
Ohio unanimously ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 3rd of 13 states required. On that same day, the Resolution is Signed by the Speaker of the Ohio House, Speaker of the Ohio Senate, and certified by the Secretary of State of Ohio, addressed to the President of the Senate of the United States.OH
Delaware ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 4th of 13 states required. The resolution is signed by the Clerk of the House, but not delivered to the U.S. government.DE
The Virginia House of Delegates approves of the TONA and enrolls the 13th Amendment as a pending bill, and sends notice to the Senate.
An election is scheduled in the Virginia House of Delegates to replace William Munford, as he has been elected Clerk of the House. An election to fill the governorship vacated by James Monroe is scheduled for December 5.
The Senate receives the House of Delegates’ 2/2/1811 notice.
Pennsylvania ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 5th of 13 states required.
Kentucky notifies Congress it has ratified the 13th Amendment. Cover letter to The Speaker of the U.S. Senate, signed by Ch. Scott, Governor of Kentucky. Accompanying the letter is a resolution dated January 31, 1811, requesting the Governor to communicate the ratification to The Senate and House of the United States, and to the Governor of each of the states, certified by the Secretary of the State of Kentucky. KY
In the U.S. Senate, Secretary of the Senate Sam A. Otis delivers a letter acknowledging receipt of the Ohio Resolution delivered to President Monroe.
Postmarked and certified by the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania this day, a cover letter of transmittal and Resolution of ratification by the state of Pennsylvania, addressed to President James Madison from Governor Snyder. PA
New Jersey ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 6th of 13 states required.
On the 3rd reading proposing ratification of the 13th Amendment, the Virginia Senate disagrees on the 13th Amendment ratification resolution. According to the Rules and Orders of the Senate, the matter may not be heard again in the same session “except where it may be judged proper” after conferring with the House of Delegates.
A letter of transmittal is dated this day from Governor Bloomfield of New Jersey, addressed to Robert Smith Esq., Secretary Department of State. Enclosed is the Resolution of Ratification by New Jersey. It is certified and receipted by James Linn, Secretary of the State of New Jersey, and certified again and sealed by Joseph Bloomfield, Governor of New Jersey. There is no notation that Secretary of State Smith has read the resolution to the Congress.NJ
In the Senate, Secretary of the Senate Sam A. Otis acknowledges and certifies receipt of the Resolution of Kentucky from the President of the United States.
Certified by the Secretary of State of Pennsylvania the previous day, a cover letter of transmittal and Resolution of ratification by the state of Pennsylvania, addressed to the United States Speaker of the Senate George Clinton from Governor Snyder.
Senator Timothy Pickering of Massachusetts, a former Secretary of War (1775, 1802-1803), and former Secretary of State (1795-1800) leaves office.
Dated March 13, postmarked March 15, receipted March 28 by Robert Smith Esquire Sec of State, a cover letter transmitting ratified copy of the 13th Amendment from George Clinton of Pennsylvania, writing from New York. The letter carries the text “The enclosed Copy…was forwarded to me at this place after I had left the Senate, and I now take the liberty of transmitting it to you to be deposited in the Office of the Department of State which if my recollection serves me is the usual course…” There is no record of the United States Secretary of State announcing the ratification to Congress.
Vermont ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 7th of 13 states required. The ratifying Resolution states it has been passed by the Senate and House of Vermont, and directs the Governor to send the Resolution to the “President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, and to each of our Senators, and Representatives in Congress, and to each of the Governors of the several States in the union. The resolution is certified by a secretary, and by the Secretary of State of Vermont.
Governor Galusha of Vermont sends a letter of transmittal and Resolution of the State of Vermont to the President of the United States. The Resolution is not announced in Congress.VT
Tennessee ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 8th of 13 states required. The Resolution also mentions several other proposed amendments – failing the Massachusetts amendment to prohibit embargoes, failing the Virginia amendment to remove Senators by congressional vote, failing the Pennsylvania amendment to create a tribunal of judges over and above the Supreme Court. The Resolution directs the Governor to transmit the resolution to “the executives of the several states, and also to each of our senators and representatives in Congress.” The Resolution is signed by the Tennessee Speaker of the House, Speaker of the Senate, and attested by the House Clerk and Senate Clerk.
Georgia ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 9th of 13 states required. The resolution is passed unanimously by the General Assembly, and the Governor is requested to transmit copies to “the President of the senate and Speaker of the House of representatives of the United States, and to each of our Senators and representives in Congress, and to each of the Governors of the several States.” The Resolution is signed by the President of the Georgia Senate, certified by the Secretary of the Senate, signed by the Speaker of the House, certified by the Clerk, approved by the Governor, and certified by the Secretary of State.
In an Extract from the journals of the Senate of South Carolina, the proposed 13th Amendment is referred to a committee including Col. May, Mr. Du Bose, and Mr. Reid.
A report is made by the committee of the Senate of South Carolina recommending the adoption of the amendatory article and recommending it be sent to the State Senate. The report was agreed to by the Senate, and ordered to be sent to the House of Representatives of that state.
Lieutenant Governor George William Smith of Virginia notifies the General Assembly that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky have all ratified the 13th Amendment. He further announces that Governor James Monroe is now the Secretary of State of the United States.
The Journals of both the House of Delegates and Senate report receiving Lt. Gov. Smith’s letters.
George William Smith is elected Governor of Virginia to replace Monroe.
The Virginia House of Delegates hears a petition to print a new edition of the revised codes of the state.
The Resolution of Vermont is noted by the Secretary of State as “Read”.VT
Governor George William Smith notifies the General Assembly of Virginia that Maryland, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have ratified the 13th Amendment.
The House of Delegates Journal reports receiving Gov. Smith’s letter.
North Carolina ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 10th of 13 states required. The resolution is signed by the Speaker of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and certified by the Secretary of State.
Governor Blount of Tennessee sends a cover letter dated November 27 and transmittal of the Tennessee Resolution to James Monroe, Secretary of State. The Resolution is noted with “12th Cong. 1st Sess.” dated December 24 and noted as “Read.” by Monroe.TN
The House of Representatives of South Carolina, having taken up the Select Committee report of November 28, 1811 regarding a recommendation to ratify the 13th Amendment, postpones the matter without coming to any final decision.
Benjamin Watkins Leigh, an attorney, is elected to the Virginia State Legislature.
Governor George William Smith of Virginia dies, having been in office less than 30 days.
James Barbour is elected Governor of Virginia to replace Smith.
Cover letters and copies of the Georgia Resolution are sent from the Governor to the President of the U.S. Senate and to Secretary of State James Monroe.
Cover letters to James Madison Esq and The Hon Jesse Franklin are sent with certified copies of the North Carolina Resolution from Governor William Hawkins.
Gov. Barbour sends letters to both houses of the the General Assembly informing them that North Carolina has ratified the 13th Amendment..
Letter of transmittal and authenticated act from North Carolina are noted by the Secretary of State as “12 Cong. 1 Sess.” and also noted as “Read.”NC
The House of Delegates Journal reports receiving Gov. Barbour’s 1/21/1812 letter.
Governor Barbour of Virginia sends supporting documents to the House regarding North Carolina’s ratification of the 13th Amendment.
The Senate Journal reports receiving Gov. Barbour’s 1/21/1812 letter.
Gov. Barbour sends letters to both houses of the General Assembly informing them that Georgia has ratified the TONA.
The Virginia House of delegates sends a bill to the Virginia Senate to approve the republishing of the existing ‘Revised Code of the Law of this Commonwealth’ [an edition prior to the 1819 Revised Code]. Andrew Stevenson, William Munford and William Hay, Jr. supervised the effort. Samuel Pleasants, Jr. was the printer. It was enacted because there were insufficient editions available to officers of the Commonwealth.
The House of Delegates Journal reports receiving Gov. Barbour’s 2/6/1812 letter.
Secretary of the Senate Sam A. Otis notes in a cover letter to the Resolution of the Senate that the Georgia Resolution and Resolutions of other states which have ratified be sent to the Secretary of State. There is no notification to the House of Representatives or President noted by Otis or Monroe.
Governor Barbour sends documentation regarding Georgia’s ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Virginia House.
The Virginia Senate votes to revise the Codes of the State of Virginia.
The Senate Journal reports receiving Gov. Barbour’s 2/06/1812 letter.
Massachusetts ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 11th of 13 states required.
New York fails ratification of the 13th Amendment.
Louisiana becomes the 18th state in the Union, but is not consulted on the pending constitutional amendment.
The War of 1812 begins.
New Hampshire ratifies the 13th Amendment, the 12th of 13 states required. The resolution is signed by the Speaker, President, approved by the Governor, and certified by the Secretary. The Resolution directs the Governor to transmit copies to “the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representaives in Congress, and to each of the Governors of the several States.”
Cover letter and Resolution of New Hampshire are sent to “The Hon William H. Crawford Esq, President of the Senate of the United States”.
An order of the Senate of the U.S., attested by Sam A. Otis, Secretary, directing him to forward the letter from the Governor and Resolution of New Hampshire to the Secretary of the Department of State. There is no note that the Resolution was read back to the House by the Secretary.
William Waller Hening is authorized by the Virginia Legislature to publish The Statutes at Large of the State of Virginia. The FULL title is: The Statutes at Large ; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia from the First Session of the Legislature, In the Year 1619.
Former Senator Timothy Pickering returns to office, this time as a Representative for Massachusetts.
Senator Crawford of Georgia leaves office, becomes the U.S. Minister to France.
Connecticut Secretary of State John Cotton Smith writes to Secretary of State James Monroe that the legislature has received the Amendment, but has made no decision and will reconvene early in May, at which time the letter from Adams will be laid before them.
Governor Tompkins of New York notifies Secretary of State James Monroe that ratification of the 13th Amendment has failed. The State Senate directs the Clerk of the Senate on April 3 to respond on this to the Governor’s letter of April 1. There is no note in Monroe’s file that the rejection is ever read in the Congress. NY
Connecticut fails ratification of the 13th Amendment. The Governor is requested to transmit copies to The Secretary of State of the United States, President of the Senate, and Speaker of the House. The Resolution is signed by the Secretary of State of Connecticut. One copy is certified on May 29, and another on August 12.
The Governor of South Carolina sends a message to the House of Representatives enclosing New Hampshire’s Resolution approving the 13th amendment, and reminding them that no decision had been made on it in South Carolina’s House. A Committee, with Benjamin Huger as Chairman, was appointed to examine the proceedings of the preceding legislature. Both the Select Committee report of November 28, 1811, and the Resolution from the U.S. Congress were ordered to lie on the table, and no further action was taken. The Committee examining the previous proceedings recommends that that out of respect for Congress and the other states, the amendment should be disposed of in the current session, and further that it should be rejected. The committee explains that it feels Congress is already empowered to refuse permission to individuals to accept presents from foreign powers and has done so, and that the new amendment might later lead to negative consequences presently unforeseen. This report was ordered to be considered on the following Thursday, but nothing was done again.
Benjamin Watkins Leigh leaves the Virginia State Legislature.
The Virginia House of Delegates receives word of a new constitutional amendment proposed by Tennessee.
Senator Lieb of Pennsylvania leaves office.
The Resolution of February 2, 1812 in the State of Delaware to ratify the 13th Amendment is certified again by the Clerk of the House of that state.
The British army sets fire to the public buildings of Washington and the Library of Congress, destroying many of the journals of the U.S. House of Representatives
The Resolution of February 2, 1812 in the State of Delaware to ratify the 13th Amendment is certified by the Secretary of State of Delaware, and transmitted to United States Secretary of State James Monroe. There is no record of Monroe informing Congress of such a receipt as he had done with Kentucky and Ohio, but the resolution is apparently found in his office later. DE
Rhode Island rejects the 13th Amendment.
The news of rejection by Rhode Island is sent by Governor Janes to Secretary of State James Monroe. The rejection is noted by Adams, but there is no notation that the rejection was read to Congress. RI
Governor Joseph Alston of South Carolina sends a letter to the Secretary of State of the United States enclosing copies of the proceedings of the state Senate, and informing him that in South Carolina, “the question of adoption or rejection, on the proposed amendment, has never been taken by this state.” The Secretary then notes receipt of the proceedings this date and marks the amendment as “Not finally acted upon”.SC
Wilson Cary Nicholas is elected Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
South Carolina tables the proposed 13th Amendment.
Treaty of Ghent is signed,
officially ending the War of 1812.
The Virginia House receives a resolution on an amendment from Pennsylvania which would reduce the term of U.S. Senators from 6 years to 4 years.
Governor James Barbour of Virginia is elected to the United States Senate.
The Battle Of New Orleans, the last important action on land, concludes war in the field, the British retreating to their shipping. Action continued at sea, the Constitution capturing the Cyane and the Levant off the island of Madeira in February, and in March the American brig Hornet captured the British brig Penguin off the coast of Brazil.
Senator Giles of Virginia leaves office.
Governor Nicholas of Virginia sends a letter to the House of Delegates regarding proceedings in several states on a series of newly proposed constitutional amendments.
Supporting documents for Virginia Governor Nicholas’ letter of December 5 are read in the House and ordered to lie on the table.
Thomas Ritchie is voted Printer to the Commonwealth of Virginia for 1 year.
Congress awards a contract to print the collected federal laws to Philadelphia publisher Bioren & Duane. In the introduction there is a caveat that the proposed 13th Amendment (the TONA) was, at the time of printing, not yet adopted into the Constitution but it could accumulate the requisite number of ratifications any day. This is noted about 60 pages removed from the text of the proposal itself, which is simply captioned 13th Amendment and immediately follows the 12th Amendment. The two are separated from the main text of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in this printing. At this time, 12 of the 13 necessary states have already ratified the 13th Amendment.
Virginia House rejects 7 new constitutional amendments which have been proposed by other states. The original 13th Amendment is not included in the vote. Governor Nicholas orders word of the vote sent to the U.S. Congress members from Virginia, and to the governors of every state.
Thomas Ritchie, official Printer to the Commonwealth of Virginia, is ordered henceforth to send 4 copies of the House Journals to every county, 1 copy to every county clerk, and 1 copy to every court in the state. Ritchie is given a non-voting seat in the House, in order to take detailed notes of the Debates.
Indiana becomes the 19th state, but is not consulted regarding the pending amendment.
Secretary of War William H. Crawford becomes Secretary of the Treasury, serving under both Presidents Madison and Monroe.
Authorized by an Act of the Virginia Legislature, the complete revision of the State’s laws are entrusted to five of Virginia’s most respected lawyers and legal scholars: Judge William Brockenbrough of the Virginia general and circuit courts, Benjamin Watkins Leigh – attorney and prominent Virginia legislator, Judge Robert White of the Superior Court of Law, District of Virginia, Justice Spencer Roane and Justice John Coalter of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.
Timothy Pickering, Representative of Massachusetts, leaves office for the last time.
James Monroe begins his term as President of the United States. An attorney from Virginia, he has served in the Revolutionary War, studied law under the careful hand of Jefferson, Senator from Virginia in 1790 and Minister to France in 1794. He chooses John Quincy Adams as his Secretary of State.
Senator Phillip Reed, who proposed the 13th Amendment, returns to Congress to serve again.
Mississippi becomes the 20th state. Prior to that, it had been a territory since 1798. The new state is not consulted on the pending 13th Amendment.
U.S. House of Representatives accepts the resolve of Representative Edwards of North Carolina that President Monroe inquire into the ratification status of the 13th Amendment. [See Resolve] Congress further resolves, on the suggestion of Representative Johnson from Kentucky, to print the present laws to all the states and territories, but in no more than 6 newspapers. [See Resolve]
President Monroe requests that Secretary of State Adams ask the governors of Virginia, South Carolina, and Connecticut as to the status of the 13th Amendment in their respective States. The four new States (Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, and Illinois) that were added to the Union between 1810 and 1818 are not included in Monroe’s order.
A Circular letter from the journal of John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State, is sent to the Governors of the three States from which information had not been received. The recently added States of Louisiana, Indiana and Mississippi and Illinois are not mentioned.
Connecticut Secretary of State Thomas Day sends copies of the Connecticut failure resolution to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. There is no note in Adams’ records as to whether the original Resolution was ever received, though he now has a copy of it. Adams notes the failure, but does not note whether the result is read to Congress. CT
Mr. Johnson, of the Virginia Senate oversight committee to review enrolled bills, reports to the Senate on the progress, due diligence and consideration, and judicious course to be followed in the revision of the laws of Virginia. [See Report]
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams sends a two page report to the U.S. House of Representatives. Adams states that 12 States have ratified Article XIII, three States have rejected it, and he has no information from South Carolina and Virginia. Adams was only concerned with the seventeen states who had participated in the initial process under Article V of the Constitution. He does not report with regard to Louisiana, Illinois, Indiana or Mississippi, and clearly, does not consider them a part of the process.
Pursuant to a Resolution of the House, James Monroe makes inquiries of ratification of the 13th Amendment by South Carolina and Virginia. “…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.” (CIS U.S. Serial Set Index – Misc. 446 (15-1) ASP038)]
President Monroe reports to the House that the Secretary of State Adams has written to the governors of Virginia, Connecticut, and South Carolina to tell them that the proposed Amendment has been ratified by twelve States and rejected by two (New York and Rhode Island), and has asked the governors to notify him of their legislature’s position. (House Document No. 76) [House Journal]
A letter is sent from President Monroe to the House of Representatives concerning South Carolina’s failure to ratify the 13th Amendment. [House Journal]
Secretary of State Adams reports the rejection of the Amendment by South Carolina (House Doc. No. 129). (It had not been rejected, but tabled with no action taken.)
A letter from John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State 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.”
The Fifteenth Congress passes an act [Chapter LXXX] to provide for the publication of the laws of the United States, requiring the Secretary of State to publish notification, with his certificate, that any amendment which heretofore has been, or hereafter may be, proposed to the constitution of the United States, has been adopted, according to the provisions of the constitution and that the amendment has become valid as a part of the constitution of the United States. The notification is to specify the states which have adopted the amendment.
The Niles Register, a Baltimore newspaper published by H. Niles of Baltimore, carries an article forwarded by the National Intelligencer. Congress being out of session at that time, Mr. Niles took the opportunity to review much of the congressional business that had taken place prior to the publication date. An article appears stating that, while everyone believed the 13th Amendment had been duly ratified, and although Congress had already printed an edition of the Constitution which included the amendment, South Carolina had failed to ratify, and therefore the amendment was not law after all. No mention is made of Virginia.
Illinois becomes the 21st state, but is not consulted regarding the pending 13th amendment.
Congress contracts a Philadelphia printer to make pocket editions of the US Constitution. This printer includes the original 13th Amendment. The House passes a resolution asking President Monroe to report back if the TONA has actually been adopted. Monroe passes the project over to his Sec. of State, John Quincy Adams.
Thomas Ritchie is elected by both houses of the legislature as Printer to the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is reported that the revision of the laws is proceeding rapidly.
Senator Phillip Reed of Maryland leaves office for the second time.
Magill brings a bill on the Revised Laws of Virginia before the legislature.
The Virginia legislature passes Act No. 280 (Virginia archives of Richmond, “misc.” file, p. 299 for micro-film):
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that there shall be published an edition of the Laws of this Commonwealth in which shall be contained the following matters, that is to say; the Constitution of the United States and the amendments thereto. …” VA Act 280
The Richmond Enquirer, published by Thomas Ritchie, official Printer to the Commonwealth, announces that for the first time, the complete laws of the State of Virginia are available as a compact publication in 2 volumes, edited by B. W. Leigh. The State has ordered 4,000 volumes for the use of its officers, judges and magistrates at a cost of $6 each.
The 13th Amendment’s official date of ratification, March 12, 1819, the date of re-publication of the Virginia Civil Code: 10 copies are designated for the executive branch of Virginia, 5 copies for the Clerk of the general assembly, and 4 copies for the Secretary of State of the United States; 1 copy each for Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and President James Monroe; 1 copy each for the U.S. Senate, House, and Library of Congress, and 1 copy for every judge in the courts of Virginia. [Ch.XVIII] [Image]
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams reports twice to Congress during the year that not quite enough states have ratified the proposal to accomplish its adoption.
Virginia’s General Assembly passes an act [Ch. XVIII] requiring the governor to transmit four copies of several different editions of Virginia’s laws, for the year 1792 and specific later years, including the session laws for both 1818 and 1819; i.e., the two volume set of Virginia’s 1819 Revised Code to the U.S. State Department. Thus, the Federal Government receives formal notification from Virginia that it had ratified the Titles of Nobility Amendment. [At least one of these two volume sets sent to the State Department, and notated as received 29 August 1821, is still in the possession of the Library of Congress. VA1819 Images]
Sufficient copies of the Revised Code have been printed to make it available for public sale, and it is advertised as such in a Richmond newspaper. Research conducted on this subject indicates that at least six or seven other Virginia newspapers also carry advertisements for the new Code.
Maine becomes the 23rd state. Until then, it had been the District of Maine, attached to Massachusetts.
Missouri becomes the 24th state. Prior to that, it was a territory called the Missouri Country.
Connecticut, having previously refused to ratify the amendment, publishes the 13th Amendment in the Statute Laws. [CN Image 1], [ CN Image 2]
North Carolina also publishes the 13th. [NC Image 1], [NC Image 2]
Thomas Jefferson, framer of the Constitution, writes to Judge Spencer Roane, editor of the Virginia Statutes in a continuing correspondence, “Time indeed changes manners and notions, and so far we must expect institutions to bend to them. But time produces also corruption of principles, and against this it is the duty of good citizens to be ever on the watch, and if the gangrene is to prevail at last, let the day be kept off as long as possible.”
Senator Phillip Reed of Maryland takes office for the third time since proposing the 13th amendment.
Governor Thomas Randolph of Virginia sends a letter to Governor John Adair of Kentucky recommending Benjamin Watkins Leigh as advisor for the revision of the Statute Law of Kentucky. Leigh subsequently becomes advisor to the editors of the revision.
Senator Reed leaves office for the 3rd and final time before his death.
Massachusetts, Mississipi, Illinois, and the Territory of Florida publish the 13th Amendment. [MA Image 1], [MA Image 2], [MS Image 1], [MS Image 2], [IL Image 1], [IL Image 2], [FL Image 1], [FL Image 2]
Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford of Georgia runs for President.
Dec 24, 1824
Major Trueman Cross, Deputy Quarter-Master-General of the Army, requests authorization from Secretary of War John C. Calhoun to compile and publish the “Military Laws of the United States to which is prefixed the Constitution of the United States” See Request for Authorization
Dec 30, 1824
John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War under President James Monroe, approves the publication of “Military Laws of the United States to which is prefixed the Constitution of the United States” — See Authorization Approval and 1825 publication notation.
Journal of the Senate of the United States of America Volume 14, Page 86 of 336 (Thursday, January 13, 1825.)
Mr. Holmes, of Maine, submitted the following motion for consideration: Resolved, That the Committee on the Library be instructed to furnish to each of the standing committees a full set of the laws of the United States, suitably marked and lettered, to designate the committee to whom each set belongs; the same to be deposited in the Library during the recess of Congress.
Mr. Chandler submitted the following motions for consideration: Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to cause to be made, and laid before the Senate, as soon as may be, an abstract of the rules and regulations for the field exercise and manoeuvres of the infantry, and the general regulations for the army which is observed and practiced upon by the army of the United States, in such a manner as shall be best adapted to the use of the militia of the United States. See Dec 24. 1824
Journal of the Senate of the United States of America Volume 14, Page 92 of 336 (Monday, January 17, 1825)
The Senate proceeded to consider the motions of the 13th instant, directing the Secretary of War to lay before the Senate an abstract of the rules and regulations of the army, and a report of the divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, and companies of militia; and agreed thereto. See 1825 publication notation.
John Quincy Adams begins his term as President of the United States. Son of former President John Adams, he personally witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill. Educated at Harvard as an attorney, he served as secretary to his father in Europe, Minister to Holland, member of the Berlin Legation, then the U.S. Senate in 1802, Minister to Russia in 1808, and in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1830. He also served as Secretary of State to James Monroe.
William Munford, joint editor of the Revised Virginia Codes (Statutes at Large) dies.
Maine orders 10,000 copies of the Constitution with the 13th Amendment to be printed for use in the schools
The “Military Laws of the United States to which is prefixed the Constitution of the United States”, authorized by Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, is published. It contains the 13th Amendment in its proper place.[Frontis Page], [Request for Authorization], [Authorization by JCC], [Image of Page 14, Amendments 1 – VI], [Image of Page 15, Amendments VI – XII], [Image of XII(Cont) and XIII]
Of note also, the 2nd Amendment is properly presented as ratified and as shown in all presentations until after the time of the Civil War and Reconstruction, without the extra commas after the words “Militia” and “Arms” The only source properly presented today is that for the United States Senate on the United States Government Printing Office site at http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/constitution/amdt2.html
July 4, 1826
John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both die on this day, the Fiftieth Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
North Carolina publishes the 13th Amendment.
William Waller Hening, official compiler and editor of the Virginia Statutes at Large dies.
Timothy Pickering, former Secretary of War, Secretary of State, Senator and Representative for Massachusetts dies.
Andrew Jackson begins his term as President of the United States. An attorney from Tennessee, he was the first Representive from Tennessee in Congress, later served in the Senate, and was a Major General in the War of 1812.
Phillip Reed, who proposed the TONA Amendment to Congress in 1810, dies. He had served from March of 1806 to March of 1813, again from March 4 of 1817 to March 3 of 1819, and then again from March 19 of 1822 to March 3 of 1823.
Bushrod Washington, joint author of the general index to the Virginian law authorities (1790-1819), nephew and heir of George Washington, member of the Virginia state legislature (1787), and Justice of the United States Supreme Court since 1798 dies.
The following “note” appears on p. 23, Vol. 1 of the “New York Revised Statutes”:
“In the edition of the ‘Laws of the U.S,’ before referred to, there is an amendment printed as Article 13, prohibiting citizens from accepting titles of nobility or honor, or presents, offices, &c. from foreign nations. But, by a message of the president of the United States of the 4th of February, 1818, in answer to a resolution of the house of representatives, it appears that this amendment had been ratified only by 12 states, and therefore had not been adopted. See vol. iv of the printed papers of the 1st session of the 15th Congress, No. 76.”
Benjamin Watkins Leigh, former Virginia state legislator and revisor of the 1819 Virginia Codes, serves as a delegate at the Virginia Constitutional Convention. Also beginning this year, he serves as Official Reporter of the Virginia State Court of Appeals.
Governor Giles of Virginia dies.
July 4, 1831
James Monroe dies in New York, NY, rejoining both Jefferson and Adams on this significant day in history.
Justice Joseph Story of the U.S. Supreme Court publishes “Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States”, which shows only the first twelve amendments as adopted. The document is heavily relied upon by judges and attorneys everywhere.
Former Senator, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and presidential candidate William H. Crawford of Georgia dies.
Benjamin Watkins Leigh, editor and revisor of the 1819 Virginia codes, is elected Senator for Virginia.
June 28, 1836
James Madison dies at Montpelier, Virginia.
Senator Benjamin Watkins Leigh of Virginia leaves office.
Martin Van Buren becomes President. A trained attorney, he serves as Senator from New York in 1821, Secretary of State in 1827, Vice President in 1832.
Daniel Call, joint editor of the general index to the Virginia Law Authorities (1790-1819) dies.
William Henry Harrison becomes President. A Virginia planter, he serves in the Army from 1791 to 1798, when he becomes Secretary of the Northwest Territory, and its delegate to Congress. He later serves as Governor of the Indiana Territory from 1801 to 1811, and as a General in the War of 1812.
President Harrison dies after just 30 days in office. John Tyler becomes president. Tyler is an attorney from Virginia, and a strict constitutionalist. He has served in the Virginia House of Delegates 3 times – from 1811-1816, 1823-25, and from 1839-1840. He has also served in the House of Representaives from 1817 to 1821, as Governor of Virginia twice, in the U.S. Senate, and, of course, as Vice President.
Congress contracts an official collection of federal laws, this time with Little & Brown of Boston, called “The United States Statutes at Large”. The edition shows that only 12 amendments had been adopted. No current member of the House of Representives from Virginia was serving in that state’s government at the time of ratification of the original 13th Amendment.
James Polk becomes President. An attorney from North Carolina, Polk has served in the Tennessee Legislature, and in the House of Representatives. He served as Speaker of the House 1835-1839, then became Governor of Tennessee.
Andrew Jackson dies at the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee.
Justice Joseph Story, whose own books have been published by Little and Brown, and upon whom they have relied for reference, dies, never having altered his belief that the 13th Amendment had not been ratified.
Judge John Coalter, revisor of the Virginia Codes of 1819, died.
Ohio again publishes the 13th Amendment.
John Quincy Adams dies in Washington, D.C.
Former Senator Benjamin Watkins Leigh, dies. He was Editor of the 1819 Virginia Codes (Statutes at Large), Delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829 and 1830, and Official Reporter of the Virginia State Court of Appeals until 1841.
Zachary Taylor becomes President of the United States. Taylor, from Kentucky, is a career soldier, veteran of the Mexican War, and a resident of Louisiana with large holdings in Mississippi. Though a staunch anti-secessionist, his only son later becomes a Confederate General.
President James Polk dies.
Virginia revises the 1819 ‘Civil Code of Virginia’ (which had contained the 13th Amendment for 30 years). At this time one of the Code’s Revisers (a lawyer named ‘Patton’) writes to the current Secretary of the Navy, William Ballard Preston, asking if this amendment had been ratified or appeared by mistake. Preston, a Virginia native, was the son of former Virginia Governor James Patton Preston, nephew of John Floyd, also a Virginia Governor, and cousin to John Buchanan Floyd – yet another Virginia Governor. If this weren’t enough, William Ballard Preston had himself been twice a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, a member of the Virginia Senate, and a Virginia member of the House of Representatives. If he did not have an answer to the query, he was certainly in a position to find out. No record of his reply is known.
President Taylor dies, and Millard Fillmore becomes President of the United States. An attorney from New York, he has served in various state offices, then in the House of Representatives. He became Comptroller of New York, but left the post to become Vice President of the United States in 1848.
Franklin Pierce becomes President of the United States. An attorney from New Hampshire, he has served in that state’s legislature. He is also a Mexican War veteran who has served both as Representative and Senator for his state in the 1830’s.
James Buchanan becomes President of the United States. Trained in law, he serves 5 times in the House as Representative from Pennylvania. He further serves as Minister to Russia, Senator from Pennsylvania for 10 years, Secretary of State under Polk, and Minister to Great Britain.
The Southern States are threatening to secede from the union over the long standing issue of tariffs.
Abraham Lincoln is elected President, James Buchanan still serving.
President Buchanan asks Congress for an “explanatory amendment” designed to convince the southern states not to secede. President-elect Abraham Lincoln approves. Congress approves the Joint Resolution, and it signed by the Speaker of The House William Pennington, Vice President of the United states and President of the Senate John C. Breckenridge, and later approved by President Buchanan, certified by the Clerk of the House.
South Carolina secedes from the union, the first to do so. The Secession Convention of South Carolina voted unanimously in favor of leaving the union at 1:07 PM on December 20th, 1860. The declarations were signed later that evening starting at 6:00 PM. (All of the subsequent secession votes took place after that time or in early 1861)
Mississippi secedes from the union.
Florida secedes from the union.
Alabama secedes from the union.
Georgia secedes from the union.
Louisiana secedes from the union.
Kansas is admitted to the Union as a Free State
Texas secedes from the union.
A Peace Convention, sponsored by the Virginia State Legislature, convenes in Washington, D.C. to try for peace. Though invited, no seceded states officially attend. The Convention is a failure.
Delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas meet in Montgomery, Alabama to write the Confederate States of America Constitution.
The proposed “explanatory amendment” often referred to as the “Corwin amendment” is passed by the House, regarding permanent protection of slavery in those States where it then existed. It was silent on the subject of servitude in the Territories. It is also called the 13th Amendment. No protest is made that the number was already used. The seceded states, of course, take no interest.
The proposed “explanatory amendment” is sent to the states for ratification. The resolution is “approved” and signed by President James Buchanan.
Abraham Lincoln takes office as President of the United States.
War Between the States
begins at Fort Sumter.
North Carolina secedes.
Illinois ratifies the new “Corwin” Amendment, referring to it as Article 13. However, Illinois’ ratification was irregular in that it was conducted by a ratifying convention rather than by the legislature.
William Ballard Preston, former Virginia Delegate and Senator, U.S. Representative and Secretary of the Navy dies – as a Confederate Senator.
The Colorado, Dakota and Nebraska Territories, and Kansas, publish the original 13th Amendment [TCO Image 1], [TCO Image 2], [TD Image 1], [TD Image 2], [TNE Image 1], [TNE Image 2], [KS Image 1], [KS Image 2]
Former Presidents Martin Van Buren and John Tyler both die, Tyler as a Confederate citizen holding office in the Confederate government.
Congress passes another Resolve to Amend, this one outlawing slavery and removing states’ rights from the Constitution. This proposed amendment is signed by the Speaker of the House, Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate H. Hamlin, and also later signed as “approved” by Abraham Lincoln on February 1, 1865, then certified by J.W. Forney as Secretary. [Image]
The amendment of 1864 passes Congress. No protest is made regarding the errant numbering as Article XIII, and the proposal is passed in the absence of 11 former southern states.
The newest “13th” Anti-Slavery Amendment is sent to the states for ratification. The resolution is signed as “approved” by President Lincoln.
General Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox.
Abraham Lincoln is assassinated
Abraham Lincoln is mortally wounded on April 14th, 1865, while William Seward turns away an attack on his person in his own home; a suspected attacker is turned away from the residence of Vice President Andrew Johnson.
Lincoln dies early in the day of April 15th, and Andrew Johnson becomes President of the United States.
No adequate explanation for the poor security surrounding Abraham Lincoln is ever provided to a grieving American public.
General Dick Taylor surrenders to General Canby all the remaining rebel forces east of the Mississippi and all hostilities of the war cease, except for outlaw bands.
Congress reconvenes. 10 of 11 former Confederate states have governments functioning under federal direction. None of the 11 states were represented in Congress when the new Amendment was proposed in February. However, 8 of those states ratify the “new” 13th Amendment as part of the preconditions for recognition as states of the United States again. This provides the necessary three-fourths of the states, and the “new” 13th Amendment is ratified, replacing and effectively erasing the original 13th Amendment which outlaws titles of nobility, honors, and emoluments from foreign powers.
Secretary of State William Seward announces ratification of the “new” 13th Amendment, which loudly prohibits slavery (and quietly surrenders States’ Rights to the federal government).
A Proclamation is issued by President Andrew Johnson that all of the States formerly considered to be in rebellion have returned to a condition of normalcy, including their ratification of an “amendment abolishing slavery.” In that official proclamation he does not refer to it by any number.
Nebraska gains statehood and is admitted to the union
The Territory of Colorado again publishes the original 13th Amendment in two editions, one edition translating the laws of Colorado into Spanish
[TCO Image 1, [TCO Image 2], [TCO Spanish Image 1, [TCO Spanish Image 2]
The State of Kansas and the Territory of Colorado again publish the original 13th Amendment. In both the Kansas and the Colorado Territory publications the original 13th Amendment, despite the fact that another amendment called the 13th had been ratified, includes both the original 13th Amendment in its proper place and the newer “Anti-Slavery” Amendment on the same page as the 14th Amendment. [Kansas 1868 Title Page, 13 & 14] [Colorado 1868 Title Page, 13, 14]
James Buchanan dies.
Franklin Pierce dies.
Nebraska, having gained Statehood in 1867, again publishes the original 13th Amendment with the issuance of the General Statutes of the State of Nebraska, compiled from the 1866 revised statutes of the Territory, the various session laws since enacted, including the acts passed at the ninth and tenth sessions of the legislature in 1873. The Anti-Slavery amendment is shown as Article XIV. [NE Image 1, [NE Image 2]
Wyoming Territory publishes the original 13th Amendment, the last known publication which contains it. The “new” anti-slavery amendment is shown as the 14th, the current 14th is not shown, but the current 15th is in its proper order.
[TWY Image 1, [TWY Image 2]
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 (17 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.
William Torrence of the State Library staff in Virginia removes the original vouchers of the public printers from the auditor’s storage rooms.
For the first time, a time limit is imposed for ratification of a constitutional amendment. Section 3 of the 18th Amendment states that: “This Article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified … within seven years from the date of submission, to the States by Congress.” The time limit affects only this particular amendment, but the habit of time limits is adopted for future amendments.
Published by Dr. Earl G. Swem, Librarian, College of William and Mary, “A Bibliography of Virginia” is issued in two parts, under the heading “Bulletin Virginia State Library”. Part II reads: “Containing the Titles of the Printed Official Documents of the Commonwealth, 1776-1916.” The compilation is executed by William Torrence of the State Library Staff, but Dr. Swem adds considerable cachet to the publication with this statement, quoted as is, from the Introduction: “It would have been impossible to clear up the uncertainty about many items printed from 1776 to 1820, if the original vouchers of the public printers had not been found. These vouchers were among the manuscripts which the compiler of this volume removed from the auditor’s storage rooms in 1913.”
In a habeas corpus petition concerning a man convicted under the National Prohibition Act. In Ex parte Dillon, 262 F. 563 (N.D. Cal. 1920), the court holds that the amendment became effective upon ratification, and not on the date of the Secretary’s proclamation.
In United States ex rel Widenmann v. Colby, 265 F. 998 (1920), aff., 257 U.S. 619, 42 S.Ct. 169 (1921), In a case concerning the proclamation made by the U. S. Secretary of State that an amendment (the 18th) had been ratified, the court holds that the Secretary of State was merely performing a ministerial act in making such proclamation and that an amendment becomes a part of the U. S. Constitution when ratified by the requisite number of states, and not when the Secretary’s proclamation is made.
In Dillon v. Gloss, 256 U.S. 368, 41 S. Ct. 510 (1921) the court again holds that amendments are effective upon the date of ratification, not the date of announcement of ratification.
In Dyer v. Blair, 390 F. Supp. 1291 (N.D. Ill. 1975), concerning whether the Illinois legislature had adopted the Equal Rights Amendment. The conflict revolved around an Illinois constitutional provision which required a three-fifths vote of both houses to ratify a federal amendment. Rules in both houses required the same vote. The court held that legislative houses could set their own rules for adoption of an amendment. Since both houses had adopted the amendment resolution only by a majority, the court held that the Illinois legislature had not ratified the E.R.A. (i.e., the ratification only had to be consistent with the legislature’s own rules on the subject)
TONA Committee of Correspondence Researcher Suzanne Nevling discovers compelling evidence of Virginia’s ratification of the 13th Amendment at the University of California at Davis and subsequently discovers the State Department Copy in the Library of Congress of the Revised Code of the Laws of Virginia which was sent to the State Department as notification of the Ratification of the 13th Titles of Nobility and Honor Article of Amendment to the Constitution For The United States.