XXII. Titles of Nobility

Catechism of the Constitution Book CoverThe Federalist Papers has posted a PDF copy of an Elementary Catechism on the Constitution from 1828 written by Arthur J. Stansbury. I’m publishing it on Mondays in a series of posts. Because the date of publication was 1828, some content has been changed by later Constitutional amendments. There are no sections in the book, so I’m dividing it into any natural breaks of topics and the posts will vary in length. Any emphases within the text are Stansbury’s.

XXII. Titles of Nobility

Q. You said that in some countries, a part of the people are called Nobility; what does that mean?

A. Almost all Europe was once under the power of Rome, and formed part of what was called the Roman Empire. This Empire was attacked, overrun, and at last conquered entirely, by a hardy set of people who came from the north in vast numbers. These people were commanded by their chiefs or kings; and when the countries which they invaded gave up fighting, and yielded every thing to the conquerors, the whole of the land was divided into portions and given by the king to his chief officers, who divided it again among their followers. These great officers were called by various names or titles, as Dukes, Earls, Counts, &c. and when they died, their oldest sons were called by the same titles; which continued in this manner to descend in certain great and rich families. It is these families which are now known in most countries of Europe as Nobles, or the Nobility — and they have great privileges over the other citizens.

Q. Can any families be thus distinguished from the rest in this Republic?

A. No; no title of Nobility can be granted here. The only titles among us, are those which mark a person’s grade in the army or navy, or his office in the State.

Q. May any citizen of the United States receive a title of nobility from the king, or prince, or government of any other country?

A. The Government does not interfere with private persons; but no person holding any office of profit or trust under the republic can accept of either a title, u sum of money as salary, an office, or even a present, from any such prince or government, without the express consent of Congress.

Q. Why is this?

A. To guard against any foreign prince getting influence over those who are in power among us, by bribes of any kind; a title would be a better bribe to some men than money.

In the heading under Charters of Freedom, you will find a copy of the Constitution as well as links to other pertinent primary documents and commentary on the Constitution, including essays at The Heritage Guide to The Constitution:

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution posts:

Elementary Catechism on the Constitution (Preface)
I. The Necessity of Government and Its Forms
II. The American Revolution
III. The Occasion and Purpose of the Constitution
IV. State and National Laws
V. The House of Representatives
VI. The Senate
VII. Impeachment
VIII. Impeachment of the President & The Rule of Law
IX. Meetings of Congress
X. Members of Congress
XI. The Making of Federal Laws
XII. Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises
XIII. Finance and Commerce
XIV. Courts & International Offences
XV. Declaration of War
XVI. State Militia
XVII. Congressional Governance of Washington, D.C. & Military Facilities
XVIII. Congressional Authority On Enactment Of Laws
XIX. Slaves
XX. Habeas Corpus, Bill of Attainder & Ex Post Facto Law
XXI. Direct Tax & the Census, Seaports & Duties, Treasury & Appropriation
Book image from The Federalist Papers. Other reading formats of the Elementary Catechism on the Constitution can be found here.


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