I found out recently that a friend of mine from a while back has passed his local bar (without buying a round!) and joked about “Mr. <name cut>, esq.”
I was told then that the use of “esquire” in the United States is actually technically illegal and the user subject to loss of citizenship. I lobbed SDSTAFF Dianne (Esq.)'s article to him, but he returned with this page, which brings up issues Dianne left unmentioned. Is this page accurate? Can we kick out all the lawyers?
The “Missing Thirteenth Amendment” is a little bit of urban legend that pops up from time to time with the tin-foil hat crowd. They argue that the 13th Amendment was ratified, but lawyers conspired to have it eliminated from public record, hiding the fact that by using “Esquire” they were losing their citizenship, etc.
Just reading the Outlaws Legal page for the first time, I’d say that there’s a big difference between claiming a title and having a state grant you a title. The Constitution’s prohibitions against granting titles of nobility are there to prevent the United States from establishing an aristocracy.
Um, read the linked web page, Dogface. The claim being put forth is that the amendment proposed by Act of Congress May 1, 1810, intended to become the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, was ratified by the requisite number of states, published as a valid amendment in official compilations of United States Law in the early part of the Nineteenth Century, and then surpressed thereafter by the very class of people most likely to suffer under the terms of said amendment, namely, those rascals the lawyers. The text of the proposed amendment declares that anyone who claims a “title of nobility or honour” ceases to be a citizen of the United States, and is precluded from holding an office of profit or trust, whatever that might mean.
The claim is, of course, false. As noted in the law review article linked by Northern Piper, there were never sufficient ratifications of the amendment, even conceding that Virginia ratified, to make it a part of the Constitution. As usual, fact does not stand in the way of blustering radical argument, perhaps because the people who advance such silliness are incapable of logical thought processes, which incapacitates their ability to address an issue like this rationally, as is often demonstrated over in Great Debates.
Just my understanding [hide] Esq. after my name[/hide] but I never thought that Esq was a grant of nobility, considering local state Bar’s (not the drinking kind) have no ability to grant titles of nobility. Anyone can append Esq. to their name, but if they try to practice law without a license they will most likely suffer legal consequences. In all the paperwork I got from the Bar, I do not remember anything that said “You are hereby granted the noble title of Esq.” So once again I say that all cites and references to the old debate about the 13th Amendment are meaningless. The first amendment allows anyone to use the designation of Esq. the Business and Profession Code (in CA anyway) prohibits them from practicing law without a license.
(BTW I have been trying to post this for about two hours, hamsters keep spitting it out, only had to log in twice though. Sheesh $5 don’t buy much these days.)
Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but “esquire” has been pretty much meaningless in the UK since at least the mid-nineteenth century. Originally, an “esquire” ranked above a “gentleman.” It was never really a “grant of nobility.” In fact, its major function was to distinguish people who did not have any actual grant of nobility who were still thought to be a cut above everyone else., e.g. the eldest sons of younger sons of the nobility. “Esq.” was often “awarded” to graduates of Cambridge and Oxford, on the theory, I suppose, that gentlemen (but not gentlewomen) who had graduated from these schools deserved to be distinguished from the rabble.
Nowadays it is interchangeable with “Mr.” in the UK. Debrett’s says,
Don’t worry I do not think you busted anyones bubble. I thought that since nobody mentioned Barristers or Solicitors, and in fact several people mentioned State Bar issues, it should have been clear this was a Yank debate. The discussion concerning the Constitution should have been a clue as well. Or do you Subjects now have States and Constitutions and State Bars?
I do not suggest that only Americans can contribute because for one I don’t believe that, and for two I do not have any authority to say who can participate.I just think you should focus your response on the issue involved, or not…do as you wish. What do I know? I am a confessed idiot…
Which raises an interesting point, to wit, Canadian lawyers who are barristers & solicitors never use “esquire”; at least not in my experience.
Why do American lawyers, presumably all good “small-r” republicans, have the compulsion to tack an archaic English psuedo-title onto each others’ names, but Canadian lawyers, living under the reign of Good Queen Bess, feel no such need? Didn’t you guys fight a revolution to do away with titles? What’s up with that?
No we did not fight a war to get rid of titles. The official line was that the original thirteen colonies were protesting “Taxation without Representation”, they were also agrivated about things like being forced to quarter English troops in their homes at their expense. They also resented the heavy handed way the English were basically expropriateing the wealth of the new colonies that they felt they were entitled to. The reasons are to numerous to discuss here. You might want to look into Beards Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the US.
As to why US lawyers use Esq. to indicate their status as Attorney’s, it just an old custom that has been adopted. Why do Aussies cook shrimp on the Barbie? Why do Brits say Cheers?Why do Canadians say Ay? There all just customs. Esq. is no more meant to imply nobility than Duke Ellington was implying he was a Duke.
Now that’s a bizarre bit of propaganda? Where did you hear that gem? In addition to what askeptic mentioned, there were several other grievances. Britain had been abrogating self-government in the thirteen colonies and imposing more direct control than had hitherto been used. After having been fairly free of such meddling for nearly a century, the colonists resented the tyrannical intrusion. The British Parliament had actually prohibited the transfer of silver coinage to the colonies. The feeling in distant London was that it was the duty of colonies to be bled dry for the pocket-fattening of the capital. The importance of money at all cost is quite apparent in that Britain saw fit to restrict the slave trade EXCEPT for the North American colonies–morality meant nothing if it meant that tobacco money to London would falter.
After the Revolution, British policy towards the reliquary North American colonies changed. It had to. They were stuck with a bunch of recalcitrant Frenchmen, a large number of refugees who had not rebelled and were now directly dependent upon Britain for the bare necessities of existence, and a great shortage of infrastructure necessary to return to the sort of gouging mercantilism that had been the former order of the day. Forced to no longer be able to look upon North America as something to bleed and bleed without restraint, they did a much better job in administering Canada.
Uh, guys… not that Northern can’t speak for himself, but he has a Master’s degree from Yale. He knows a little bit about the American constitution, and was making a joke. I thought it was funny, but maybe it’s just me.
How are we to automatically know the CV of everyone who posts here? What he said can only be recognized as a joke if one already knows his academic history. Ignorance about the motives of the American Revolution is quite widespread, thus, it makes sense to presume common ignorance rather than uncommon knowledge unless one has previous evidence to the contrary.
Fair enough, Dogface, but Northern Piper is such a fixture here that I thought more people would be aware of his awesome knowledge of the American Constitutiion, just as I know that you are an expert on Alzeimer’s. In any case, no big deal.