Newsweek’s Jerry Adler offers a fascinating explication of a little-known byway of right-wing conspiracy theory, the lost Titles of Nobility Amendment or TONA.
Here’s a brief extract from the article:
Return with us now to the tumultuous years leading up to the War of 1812, when fear of “foreign influence”—by England or France, depending on whether you were a Republican or Federalist—was a dominating issue in American politics. Jerome Bonaparte, the younger brother of Napoleon, had recently spent several years in the United States, where he married Elizabeth Patterson, the beautiful, ambitious daughter of a wealthy Baltimore merchant. In 1810, Jerome was on the throne of Westphalia, while Elizabeth was in America with their son, Jerome Napoleon. (The couple would never see each other again.) According to historian Michael Vorenberg of Brown University, having a nephew of the emperor of France growing up on American soil might have made the pro-British Federalists uneasy, or, just as likely, suggested to them a way to tie the Republicans to the French Legion of Honor, the Trilateral Commission of its day. Desiring to get out in front of the issue—or possibly seeking to score points against the Federalists, who had their own embarrassing ties to the British aristocracy—Republican Sen. Philip Reed of Maryland introduced an amendment meant to strengthen the existing “emoluments clause” in Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution.
This clause reads:
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
Adler’s link to the Platform of the Republican Party of Iowa is worth the price of admission. Here are just a few of its planks:
“We call for the Iowa General Assembly to repeal the recently passed ‘Electric & Plumbing’ Bill’ which takes away an individual’s right to make household repairs”;
“We believe that Intelligent Design theory, or Creationism, should be included with all science instruction along with the Darwinian theory. No theory should then be taught in public schools to the exclusion of the other”;
“We oppose so-called ‘World Government’ and support full constitutional sovereignty of the U.S.A” and of course “We oppose any effort to implement Islamic Shariah law in this country.”