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Titles of Nobility Amendment facts for kids

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The Titles of Nobility Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution. It was approved by the 11th Congress on May 1, 1810, and submitted to the state legislatures for ratification. It would strip United States citizenship from any citizen who accepted a title of nobility from a foreign country. On two occasions between 1812 and 1816 it only needed ratifying by two states to become a valid part of the Constitution. Congress did not set a time limit for its ratification, so the amendment is still pending before the states. Now, since the number of states has increased, ratification by an additional 26 states would be needed for this amendment to be adopted.


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.


This proposed amendment would amplify both Article I, Section 9, which prohibits the federal government from issuing titles of nobility or honor, and Section 10, which prohibits the states from issuing them.

There is speculation that the Congress proposed the amendment in response to the 1803 marriage of Napoleon Bonaparte's younger brother, Jerome, and Betsy Patterson of Baltimore, Maryland. She gave birth to a son for whom she wanted aristocratic recognition from France. The child, named Jérôme Napoleon Bonaparte, was not born in the United States, but in Great Britain on July 7, 1805. Nevertheless, he would have held U.S. citizenship through his mother. In turn, his son, Charles Joseph Bonaparte, was born in 1851 and died 1921. He graduated from Harvard Law School, and became Secretary of the Navy and then, in the Theodore Roosevelt Administration, Attorney-General – and created the FBI. Another theory is that his mother actually desired a title of nobility for herself. She is referred to as the "Duchess of Baltimore" in many texts written about the amendment. The marriage had been annulled in 1805. This was well before the amendment's proposal by the 11th Congress. Nonetheless, Representative Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina is recorded to have said that "he considered the vote on this question as deciding whether or not we were to have members of the Legion of Honor in this country."

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