Wednesday, 30 April 2014

esquire or let me tell you a story about freedom

I have been selected to take a Foreign Service exam in a couple of months and I am delving into civics lessons as I find the time.  Practice quizzes reveal the test mostly to be general-knowledge and fun Double Jeopardy! (from the administrative embargo that protects a defendant legitimately tried and either pardoned or prosecuted from being subject again to the same charges—en France, autrefois acquit, and is codified in America by the Fifth Amendment to the US ) type questions.   There are fortunately none of those pesky sports and television categories.  I am able to sprint fairly well through the rehearsal batteries, though when actually trying to study, I get too distracted by footnotes and hyperlinks.  For instance, did you know that the most legendary amendment that failed to be ratified under house rules, but only by a very narrow margin, was the measure to strip individuals of US citizenship for accepting a title of nobility from a foreign monarch and would be banned from holding a position of trust in perpetuity?
The proposal came before the states two years ahead of the sideshow skirmish, the War of 1812, between the US and the UK (when Europe was dealing with much larger problems with the Napoleonic Wars) that came about over unresolved grudges and America designs on the rest of the continent.  Another theory for the impetus was the marriage of American heiress Betsy Bonaparte (nรฉe Patterson) to the conquering emperor’s brother, Jรฉrรดme—to Napoleon’s grave displeasure—and hopes of securing her own title, or for their son called Bo. Although cause and effect seem reversed in the first case and the timing is a bit off in the latter, for whatever reason the proposal came about, indeed some hold that the measure did actual meet the minimum requirements for passage in state legislatures and because of the state of communication at the time, the matter was dropped prematurely.  In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton expressed, “Nothing need be said to illustrate the importance of the prohibition of titles of nobility. This may truly be denominated the corner stone of republican government; for so long as they are excluded, there can never be serious danger that the government will be any other than that of the people…” Only that that were the only threat to a government by and for the people.  Now, mostly regarded as a historical curiosity—though as Congress imposed no time limits on the adoption of this amendment, it could still be passed, like the latest one passed in 1992 after pending for 202 years regarding the Legislative Branch raising its own salary—numerically, it would have been the thirteenth amendment—which came about some fifty-five years later, abolishing the institution of slavery.  Sometimes it’s good to be side-tracked and chase shining-objects.