During the early decades of US history, relations between the United States and Great Britain were strained. This relationship became worse with the outbreak of war against Napoleon in 1803. Britain imposed a blockade on neutral countries such as the United States. In addition, the British took American sailors from their ships and forced them to serve in the British Navy. Concerned about the many English spies and troublemakers, Congress finally passed an amendment to prevent those who had English titles and connections from obtaining any seat in government. Called the Titles of Nobility Act (TONA), it reads as follows:
"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."All "titles of nobility" were prohibited in both Article VI of the Articles of Confederation (1777) and in Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution of the United States (1778), but there was no penalty. Although already prohibited by the Constitution, an additional "title of nobility" amendment was deemed necessary. Such an amendment was first proposed in 1789, again in 1810, and finally ratified in 1819 and printed in the official Laws Code of Virginia, the final state to ratify. Esquires in government played dumb and finally censored the TONA out of the law books. There still is no penalty for accepting titles or emoluments from foreign rulers today, just the prohibition.
Clearly, the founding fathers saw such a serious threat in "titles of nobility" and "honours," that anyone receiving them would be required to forfeit their citizenship. Obviously the Amendment carried much more significance for our founding fathers than is readily apparent today. They knew that our freedom could be subverted from inside our government and had sought to prevent such a bitter betrayal. Today most Senators and Congressmen, all Federal judges, and some of our Presidents are attorneys who carry the title "Esquire" often abbreviated as "Esq." The Constitution still forbids this but they continue to sit in the seats of power, nevertheless.
In Colonial times, attorneys trained attorneys, but most held no "title of nobility" or "honor." There was no requirement that one become 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 and 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. Lawyers admitted to the IBA received the rank "Esquire" - a "title of British 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! Lawyers with an "Esquire" behind their names were agents of the monarchy, members of an organization whose principle purposes were political and regarded with the same wariness that some people today reserve for members of the KGB or the CIA.
The archaic definition of "honor" (as used when the 13th Amendment was ratified) meant anyone "obtaining or having an advantage or privilege over another." An example of an "honor" granted to only a few Americans is the privilege of being a judge: Esquires can be judges and exercise the attendant privileges and powers, non-esquires generally cannot. We address the judge as, "your Honor."
By prohibiting "honors," the missing, but newly found, original 13th amendment prohibits any advantage or privilege that would grant some citizens an unequal opportunity to achieve or exercise political power. Therefore, the second meaning of the original 13th Amendment was to insure political equality among all American citizens, by prohibiting anyone, even government officials, from claiming or exercising a special privilege or power (an "honor") over other citizens.
Both "esquire" and "honor" would be key targets of the 13th Amendment even today, because, while "titles of nobility" no longer apply now precisely as they did back in the early 1800's, it is clear that an "esquire" or bar attorney receives far better treatment in and by the courts as well as by the public at large in general, whereas if you represent yourself (pro se) or speak as a freeman (pro per), you are treated as though you were rabble. Your opinions are of little importance in court and you are often treated the same way by government officials. The concept of "honor" remains relevant, possibly more so today than at any previous time in U.S. history, for they, the "honors," are greatly feared and even revered, even by the esquires who are considered to be below them. Since the Original 13th Amendment was properly ratified by the states and has never been repealed, all acts of government since 1819 are technically null and void since most lawmakers, prohibited from participation in government by the Constitution and who should even be stripped of their right to be a US Citizen under TONA, have continued to interject themselves into the political process.
When the people discovered that European banking interests owned most of the United States Bank they saw the sheer power of the banks and their ability to influence representative government by economic manipulation and outright bribery. On February 20, 1811, Congress therefore refused to renew the Bank's charter on the grounds that the Bank was unconstitutional. Nathan Rothschild, of the Bank of England, issued a fierce ultimatum: "Either the application for the renewal of the charter is granted, or the United States will find itself involved in a most disastrous war." That apparently was the warning given the Senate on October 1, 2008.