The REAL Thirteenth Amendment?

I was reading a story about people in the Castro wanting to take away
authority for the big rainbow flag from the merchants association (never
mind that the association foots the bill for the $5k/year in maintenance
costs, and nobody who wants to take over authority is also willing to take
over the responsibility for the costs). So, I was going to comment about
how some people in our fair city can always be relied upon to think they
have a vote on how other people should use their own money. And as I was
glancing through the comments already posted, I saw this nutty
conspiratorial comment about the Thirteenth Amendment -- but as I was
reading it, something about it started to give me a sinking feeling:

It was the familiar thumbnail image at the top left. And sure enough, there
was your name, Starchild.

Really? The 13th Amendment conspiracy? You believe that one? After our
discussion at Ananda Fuara about WTC 7, I can't say I'm totally surprised.
But damn. You do realize you're our most visible Libertarian in San
Francisco, and possibly in California, right? Bless you for being so good
at outreach, but could you please reel in the conspiracy theory stuff a bit
for the sake of the rest of us? At least run it through or
Wikipedia first? The
closest that TONA ever came to ratification was still 2 states short. It
wasn't even close, and it's only gotten further from ratification as the
number of states in the union increased. And by my reading, even if it had
passed, Barack Obama would be no less eligible to serve as President for
using the title "Esquire" than Ron Paul would be for using the title
"Doctor" since titles of nobility relate to bloodlines (Duke, Duchess, etc.)
and not things like knight, esquire, etc. which are conferred on people
without relation to bloodline.

I am curious where you picked up that particular piece of conspiracy theory.
Would you mind telling me? I'm just worried you got it from a Libertarian
source, and it's been my mission since the LSLA where they showcased "Loose
Change" to cure libertarians (both small and big L) of the conspiracy bug.
It simply makes us less credible. It's a tough enough sell to convince
people that Social Security and Medicare are headed toward bankruptcy, even
with most economists agreeing with us, but when well-known libertarians
(like you most certainly are, Starchild) put stuff out there that's easily
fact-checked as false, it seriously hurts our credibility and makes it
harder to convince people of the things that are true.

So who was it? Alex Jones? Someone else? Please tell me. This conspiracy
stuff has got to stop. I know I'm not alone as a libertarian in being fed
up with the conspiracy theories. There's even a Facebook page:

Have others on this list besides Starchild seen this 13th amendment
conspiracy, particularly in libertarian circles? If so, please speak up.




Where's the conspiracy? There's no dispute that the TONA was proposed
and approved by various relevant legislative bodies; the only dispute is
about some details of the history, as to how many such bodies actually
approved it. Such uncertainties about the historical record are nothing
unusual, and the uncertainty in this case is not new; many copies of the
Constitution were printed with the TONA on the belief, mistaken or not,
that it had been ratified. I asked Michael Badnarik, when he was in the
Bay Area for his 2004 campaign, about it, since he bills himself as a
Constitutional scholar; I don't recall that he took a definite stand on
whether it had been ratified, but he was familiar with it.

Your excitability about these issues unfortunately feels to me too much
like the right-wingers in the Party who are always trying to suppress
discussion of gay rights, or Native American rights, etc., because they
give the Party a bad name and appeal to only a tiny minority, when what
everybody really cares about is money. As popular opinion on all these
issues shifts (Polls say a majority of Americans reject the official
9/11 theory, and in Germany the figure is 90% .), Libertarians will be
left in our usual position at the back of the parade, when we should be
fearlessly leading.

Excitability you say.

Okay. Don't take my advice. I have precisely one LPSF meeting left before
I leave the state. If I'm seriously the only LPSF activist disturbed by the
prevalence here of conspiracy theories that are easily debunked, then in
another couple of months, there will be unanimous support of these
conspiracy theories within LPSF, and harmony will return.

But in that case, Marcy, you really have to find a new webmaster. I can't
in good conscience participate in disseminating information I know to be
provably false, and it seems that it's just a matter of time before
will be used for that purpose.

I really had intended to match your grace in acknowledging Starchild's
outstanding contributions to activism even as you were criticizing him,
but let me correct that lapse here: Whatever our disagreements (and
they don't seem terrribly important to me), I have always admired and
appreciated your extraordinary energy and talent and generosity on
behalf of liberty. As Mike D. said of Starchild on his birthday, the
world is a noticeably better place for his having been born. I agree,
in his case as well as yours, and I don't say that to everybody.

I’ll throw in my two cents, as I’ve been doing some reading lately...

I wish I could recommend _Voodoo History_ by David Aaronovitch, but it’s
really just a long rant about 9/11 conspiracy theories, padded out with
a cursory look at a handful of older ones, and fails to hold together as
a coherent book.

I’ll stick to making a few assertions instead.

1) Conspiracies unquestionably exist. Conspiracies to assassinate Roman
emperors, Lincoln, and Hitler are notably well-documented, just for
example. The official 9/11 story is itself a story of a conspiracy.

2) Keeping secrets is difficult. The larger the group involved, the
more likely that someone will blab. For an economic analogy, see the
way cartels inevitably rupture when there’s a market advantage to
defecting. This is how we know about the conspiracies that we do know
about; someone eventually talked, or they were discovered.

2a) Of course, we only know about the conspiracies we know about... the
*really* good ones have maintained their silence. A perfect conspiracy
is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. However, for that reason, skeptics are
inclined to reject it, as they reject theories of invisible pink
unicorns or self-fathering zombie cannibal sky wizards.

2b) Occam’s razor dovetails nicely with this observation. Conspiracies
involving thousands of people creating an intricate scenario that
appears to be a much simpler operation or even accident is suspect by
both metrics. (Hanlon’s razor is also frequently useful.)

3) Many conspiracy theories boil down to a kind of magical thinking:
“Using the correct invocation against the system, I can convince it to
dismantle itself, hoisting it by its own petard!” The Secretary of
State ruled the accepted amendments as ratified and ruled Obama eligible
to run for President, and the accepted amendments have been the basis of
piles and piles of jurisprudence. Even if any of these things turned
out to have been done incorrectly in the past, they are thoroughly
embedded in the system. If one did succeed in convincing the system
that they were flawed by its own rules, the system would fix the flaw
retroactively, not change the way it works.

4) Many conspiracy theories distract from more fundamental issues. For
example, most libertarians believe that taxing is bad for utilitarian or
moral reasons. Arguing against one specific tax on a convoluted
legalistic argument has the implication that a legally correct tax is
acceptable, and distracts from the broader issue. Similarly, the 9/11
theories distract from the more immediate problems of the loss of civil
liberties in its wake; while the revelation that (say) Cheney ordered
the attacks as a pretext for curtailing liberty would certainly shock a
lot of people into action, that still has the implication that losing
civil liberties is OK as long as we were attacked by Islamist radicals.

5) Many conspiracy theories rely on really seriously questionable
pseudo-academic work, quoting scientists whose work is entirely
unrelated to the field at hand, or Ph.D.s in anthropology about matters
of physics. The citations then get into a circular muddle with little
or no verifiable facts at the bottom. (Aaronovitch’s book is good on
this point.)

A few final notes concerning Mike A.’s citation of polls: Depending on
how the poll was worded, I would probably say I disagreed with the
official account of 9/11 too. There are too many variables for it to be
possibly completely correct. Further, many (or even most) Americans
don’t accept the theory of evolution either, so I don’t trust polls as
assertions of fact (see: voting on the hamster’s sex). Finally, last I
heard, the most popular 9/11 theory in Germany was that Israel did it.
I think Mike Godwin would give me a pass on that...

- --
Chris Maden, text nerd <URL: >
“Those in power write the history, while those who suffer
write the songs.” — Frank Harte
GnuPG Fingerprint: C6E4 E2A9 C9F8 71AC 9724 CAA3 19F8 6677 0077 C319

LOL. Literally. I think I might have scared the neighbors with that


Hi Rob,

First, if you quit as the LPSF webmaster, my heart will be broken, especially if you quit because of disagreements within our group.

Secondly, I would like to confess that I am ambivalent about your argument on libertarian conspiracy theories. I completely agree that conspiracy theories kill the credibility of any person or group, and I, as you, will try to keep our group from falling into that trap. I, as you, see a big difference between wild unsupported ideas and being ahead of the curve. However, I believe the U.S. is awash in negative variables which need to be reversed -- such as the current unsustainable national debt, largely unfunded mandates such as Medicare, perpetual foreign intervention, increasing tolerance for obliteration of our individual liberties, a population focused on short term goals such as material possessions and foolish litigation (such as the flag flap that started this discussion).

Maybe the way one can reconcile these two views, is to choose the sources of our statements well, and not turn a blind eye to challenges that need to be overcome?


FWIW, I agree with all of your points here. #3 is particularly relevant to the TONA, as well as to Schiff's crusade on the 16th Amendment.

On #2, I would add the observation that keeping secrets is getting more difficult all the time, thanks to technology, but that the intimidation has been getting correspondingly more brazen. April Gallop's recent 9/11 suit named Bush as a defendant, and one of Bush's cousins was appointed to the 3-judge panel to hear the suit. A good historical example is the FLIR evidence of machine gun fire covering the rear entrance of the Branch Davidians' house. No one, including me, thought anything about it when Edwin Allard, the FLIR expert who spoke in "Waco: The Rules of Engagement," suffered a massive heart attack after the film was released. His work was taken up by a younger man, Carlos Ghigliotti, who was found dead of unexplained causes in his apartment shortly before he was to testify to Congress. The work was taken up by still a third FLIR expert--there aren't that many. He collapsed in a mall on his way home from work and was rushed to a hospital, where they found in his system a drug that induces heart attacks. He would normally have gone straight home from work. So, guess what, they couldn't find anybody else willing to carry on the work, and the whole matter died quietly. Unfortunately, it still often takes the courage of Bradley Manning or Daniel Ellsberg to reveal secrets. Clinton's first act the night of the TWA 800 crash was to issue an executive order repealing whistleblower protection in relation to that incident. A lot of people presumably know something about what happened, but so far none of them has spoken up.

On the other hand, what makes keeping secrets easier is the refusal of so many people, especially among the better educated, to believe anything but the official version, no matter what the evidence. That's true of all the conspiracy theories from JFK on. Under those conditions, there's nothing the government can't get away with.

On #5, I would be the last to suggest that polls were any indication of the truth about anything. Their relevance was to Rob's concern about popular perception of the LP. It is hard to claim that questioning the official account of 9/11 would discredit the LP if most people are already questioning it. It discredits the LP only in the eyes of the so-called intelligentsia, whose votes may well the last we get anyway.

I'd love to get a better feel, someday, for which people, especially among libertarians, line up on which side of the conspiracy issue.

I must confess a deep seated perception there is a massive evil out there and government is often it’s tool of first choice. The evil is deep, pervasive and shuns the light of day.




Dear All;

It's okay to have conspiracy theories just as long as you do not believe in
conspiracy theories.

BTW: Rob while I have any breath left to say about what the LPSF does and posts
on its site no conspiracy theories will be tolerated to be posted. If people
want to discuss such guff save it for the social hour.

A few years back the LPSF cut its nose off to spite itself and shot itself in
the foot with that stupid Flight 800 crock of bushwha - on the main page no
less. That ain't gonna happen again never again.

Ron Getty

I recall it vividly, Ron -- the planning in the upstairs room of Round Table
Pizza on Geary for the screening of that movie, but it was more than a few
years back. More like ten. I was brand new to LPSF in the fall of 2001 (I
believe the screening was postponed from October 2001 to March 2002 after
9/11 happened), so I just quietly abstained from participating and hoped it
was an anomaly. For those not aware of Ron's reference, you can read about
it in LPSF's newsletter and website archives: (Newsletters) (September
2001 website front page) (January
2002 website front page)
actual event announcement)

<>I'm also very
worried that we're going to see a ramp up of the conspiracy theories as we
approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11. And as the Google and
links above attest, even a whole new website doesn't make this sort of thing
go away, so I implore everyone to think twice before publishing any theories
that you think have any real chance of being debunked.

Marcy (and anyone else interested), perhaps we could schedule some time
right before the June meeting for me to show you how to manage all of the
website and phone stuff?



  You asked about my source for the information on the original 13th Amendment, which 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 link to that source is right there in my comment on SFGate to which you refer. If you read the essay printed there, it addresses both of your stated objections against the amendment.

OBJECTION: "The closest that TONA ever came to ratification was still 2 states short."

RESPONSE (from ):

"...Sen. Mitchell wrote [to researcher Larry Dodge, claiming the 13th Amendment had not been properly ratified] that, "Article XIII did not receive the three-fourths vote required from the states within the time limit to be ratified." (Although his language is imprecise, Sen. Mitchell seems to concede that although the Amendment had failed to satisfy the "time limit", the required three-quarters of the states did vote to ratify.)

Dodge replies: 'Contrary to your assertion.., there was no time limit for amendment ratification in 1811. Any time limit is now established by Congress in the Resolves for proposed amendments.'

In fact, ratification time limits didn't start until 1917, when Sect. 3 of the Eighteenth Amendment stated 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.' A similar time limit is now included on other proposed Amendments, but there was no specified time limit when the 13th Amendment was proposed in 1810 or ratified in 1819.

Sen. Mitchell remained determined to find some rationale, somewhere, that would defeat Dodge's persistence. Although Sen. Mitchell implicitly conceded that his 'published by error' and 'time limit' arguments were invalid, he continued to grope for reasons to dispute the ratification:

'... regardless of whether the state of Virginia did ratify the proposed Thirteenth Amendment... on March 12, 1819, this approval would not have been sufficient to amend the Constitution. In 1819, there were twenty-one states in the United States and any amendment would have required approval of sixteen states to amend the Constitution. According to your own research, Virginia would have only been the thirteenth state to approve the proposed amendment.'

Dodge replies: 'Article V [amendment procedures] of the Constitution is silent on the question of whether or not the framers meant three-fourths of the states at the time the proposed amendment is submitted to the states for ratification, or three-fourths of the states that exist at some future point in time. Since only the existing states were involved in the debate and vote of Congress on the Resolve proposing an Amendment, it is reasonable that ratification be limited to those States that took an active part in the Amendment process.'

Dodge demonstrated this rationale by pointing out that, 'President Monroe had his Secretary of State... [ask the] governors of Virginia, South Carolina, and Connecticut, in January, 1818, as to the status of the amendment in their respective states. The four new states (Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, and Illinois) that were added to the union between 1810 and 1818 were not even considered.'

From a modern perspective, it seems strange that not all states would be included in the ratification process. But bear in mind that this perspective is based on life in a stable nation that's added only five new states in this century -- about one every eighteen years. However, between 1803 and 1821 (when the 13th Amendment ratification drama unfolded), they added eight states -- almost one new state every two years. This rapid national growth undoubtedly fostered national attitudes different from our own. The government had to be filled with the euphoria of a growing Republic that expected to quickly add new states all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the Isthmus of Panama. The government would not willingly compromise or complicate that growth potential with procedural obstacles; to involve every new state in each on-going ratification could inadvertently slow the nation's growth.

For example, if a territory petitioned to join the Union while an Amendment was being considered, its access to statehood might depend on whether the territory expected to ratify or reject a proposed amendment. If the territory was expected to ratify the proposed Amendment government, officials who favored the Amendment might try to accelerate the territory's entry into the Union. On the other hand, those opposed to the Amendment might try to slow or even deny a particular territory's statehood. These complications could unnecessarily slow the entry of new states into the nation, or restrict the nation's ability to pass new Amendments. Neither possibility could appeal to politicians. Whatever the reason, the House of Representatives resolved to ask only Connecticut, South Carolina, and Virginia for their decision on ratifying the 13th Amendment -- they did not ask for the decisions of the four new states. Since the new states had Representatives in the House who did not protest when the resolve was passed, it's apparent that even the new states agreed that they should not be included in the ratification process.

In 1818, the President, the House of Representatives, the Secretary of State, the four 'new' states, and the seventeen 'old' states, all clearly believed that the support of just thirteen states was required to ratify the 13th Amendment. That being so, Virginia's vote to ratify was legally sufficient to ratify the 'missing' Amendment in 1819 (and would still be so today)."

OBJECTION: "...even if it had passed, Barack Obama would be no less eligible to serve as President for using the title 'Esquire' than Ron Paul would be for using the title 'Doctor' since titles of nobility relate to bloodlines (Duke, Duchess, etc.) and not things like knight, esquire, etc. which are conferred on people without relation to bloodline."


"In Colonial America, attorneys trained attorneys but most held no 'title of nobility' or 'honor'. There was no requirement that one be a lawyer to hold the position of district attorney, attorney general, or judge; a citizen's "counsel of choice" was not restricted to a lawyer; there were no state or national bar associations. The only organization that certified lawyers was the International Bar Association (IBA), chartered by the King of England, headquartered in London, and closely associated with the international banking system. Lawyers admitted to the IBA received the rank 'Esquire' -- a 'title of nobility'. 'Esquire' was the principle title of nobility which the 13th Amendment sought to prohibit from the United States. Why? Because the loyalty of 'Esquire' lawyers was suspect. Bankers and lawyers with an 'Esquire' behind their names were agents of the monarchy, members of an organization whose principle purposes were political, not economic, and regarded with the same wariness that some people today reserve for members of the KGB or the CIA...

"The missing Amendment is referred to as the 'title of nobility' Amendment, but the second prohibition against 'honour' (honor), may be more significant. According to David Dodge, Tom Dunn, and Webster's Dictionary, the archaic definition of 'honor' (as used when the 13th Amendment was ratified) meant anyone 'obtaining or having an advantage or privilege over another'. A contemporary example of an 'honor' granted to only a few Americans is the privilege of being a judge: Lawyers can be judges and exercise the attendant privileges and powers; non-lawyers cannot."

  In other words, persons like Barack Obama and Ron Paul would not be ineligible to hold government office and lose their U.S. citizenship on the basis of being doctors or lawyers, which was not considered problematic at the time the amendment was drafted; rather their loss of citizenship and ineligibility to hold office would be due to the fact of their having accepted membership in privileged cartels (the American Bar Association, American Medical Association) which are similar in nature to the International Bar Association of the revolutionary era which the 13th Amendment intended to proscribe for U.S. citizens and government officeholders.

  Given the general lack of understanding that this is the law of the land, of course, a reasonable solution might be to grandfather in any persons holding such titles that were granted before a certain date. Whether or not that could be legally accomplished in light of the plain language of the amendment is less clear. It is possible that the Constitution might have to be amended.

  Having one's U.S. citizenship revoked, however, would not if the laws were properly followed be as serious as it appears at first glance. Properly interpreted, it would not mean that one had to leave the United States, as the Constitution grants the federal government no authority over which persons may physically reside in the United States. I believe states also have the power, under the 10th Amendment, to allow non-U.S.-citizens to vote in state and local elections.

  I agree with Mike Acree that referring to the 13th Amendment issue as a "conspiracy" is misleading (and, as it relates to your concerns about the Libertarian Party's credibility, counter-productive). As I read the history, the amendment was essentially tossed out as the result of a lack of communication between the legislature of the state of Virginia, whose ratification was the final act needed to pass the amendment, and the Secretary of State's office in Washington, which prior to that ratification informed Congress, via the president, that the 13th Amendment had not yet been ratified, and never corrected this assertion following Virginia's approval (from ):

"...on December 31, 1817, the House of Representatives resolved that President Monroe inquire into the status of this Amendment. In a letter dated February 6, 1818, President Monroe reported to the House that the Secretary of State Adams had written to the governors of Virginia, South Carolina and Connecticut to tell them that the proposed Amendment had been ratified by twelve States and rejected by two (New York and Rhode Island), and asked the governors to notify him of their legislature's position. (House Document No. 76) (This, and other letters written by the President and the Secretary of State during the month of February, 1818, note only that the proposed Amendment had not yet been ratified. However, these letters would later become crucial because, in the absence of additional information they would be interpreted to mean the amendment was never ratified)."

  But as is explained later on that same page of the essay ( ), the Virginia legislature *did* vote to ratify, and this ratification was generally understood at the time to have been the final ratification needed to make the 13th Amendment the law of the land:

"There is question as to whether Virginia ever formally notified the Secretary of State that they had ratified this 13th Amendment. Some have argued that because such notification was not received (or at least, not recorded), the Amendment was therefore not legally ratified. However, printing by a legislature is prima facie evidence of ratification. Further, there is no Constitutional requirement that the Secretary of State, or anyone else, be officially notified to complete the ratification process. The Constitution only requires that three- fourths of the states ratify for an Amendment to be added to the Constitution. If three-quarters of the states ratify, the Amendment is passed. Period. The Constitution is otherwise silent on what procedure should be used to announce, confirm, or communicate the ratification of amendments.

Knowing they were the last state necessary to ratify the Amendment, the Virginians had every right announce their own and the nation's ratification of the Amendment by publishing it on a special edition of the Constitution, and so they did.

Word of Virginia's 1819 ratification spread throughout the States and both Rhode Island and Kentucky published the new Amendment in 1822. Ohio first published in 1824. Maine ordered 10,000 copies of the Constitution with the 13th Amendment to be printed for use in the schools in 1825, and again in 1831 for their Census Edition. Indiana Revised Laws of 1831 published the 13th Article on p. 20. Northwestern Territories published in 1833. Ohio published in 1831 and 1833. Then came the Wisconsin Territory in 1839; Iowa Territory in 1843; Ohio again, in 1848; Kansas Statutes in 1855; and Nebraska Territory six times in a row from 1855 to 1860."

  Given your evident prejudice against what you dismiss as a "conspiracy theory", my guess is that you will not want to accept the above information, but I'm rather curious as to how you will respond.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

P.S. - I would suggest this thread is more suited to the LPSF-discuss list than to LPSF-activists.

P.S. - Rob, are you posting on SFGate now? If so, we should update
this page, which still has me as the sole listing --

Yep, I was brand new also, so kept mum. However, I remember that the way I saw the situation was "Oh, so these folks speak out!"

I second Ron's pledge, Rob.


Let me say for my part that I appreciate both of you and your
contributions to the cause as well!

  And belated thanks to everyone here who wished me a happy birthday --
I put out a general thank you on Facebook (from whence most of them
seemed to come due to the site's broadcasting of birthdays to your
"friend" networks), but not everyone may have seen it. (For the
record, I ended up going to Harbin Hot Springs with a date and did
have a pretty good birthday!)

  I must also add a hearty "ditto" to Mike's observation that "It is
hard to claim that questioning the official account of 9/11 would
discredit the LP if most people are already questioning it. It
discredits the LP only in the eyes of the so-called intelligentsia,
whose votes may well (be) the last we get anyway."

  But if it's any reassurance, Rob and Ron, I don't consider myself a
conspiracy theorist, and I would agree that the kind of worldview
which sees history *primarily* in terms of conspiracies is badly
misguided and tends to lead people into types of activism which don't
usually do much for the cause of freedom. I try to take each issue on
a case-by-case basis and maintain a healthy general skepticism.

  Nevertheless, I find it troubling when ideas get labeled "conspiracy
theories" which don't necessarily posit the existence of any
conspiracy. "A widespread disinterest in the truth among those in a
position to expose it if they desired to do so" might often be a more
accurate characterization of why conventional wisdom is wrong in a
particular case.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

P.S. - I couldn't find anything on about the missing 13th
Amendment, which I would think there would be if it were a matter of
easy debunking.