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  1. #1
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    Foreign Honors for U.S. Presidents (and others)

    Following up on the now locked thread, and without reference to the personalities that stir such emotions....

    Scott MacMillan wrote:

    As far as presidential knighthoods go, I believe the most recent appointment was that of President Reagan who, in 1989, was appointed to the Order of the Bath; since these appointments are "honorary" they do not fall afoul of the constitutional prohibition of elected officials accepting "awards" from foreign countries.
    Actually the first President Bush was made an honorary GCB (Knight Grand Cross of the Bath) in 1993, but it wasn't to quibble about that that I was writing.

    The honorary nature of the British knighthoods given to foreigners has to do with British rules, not those of the recipient countries. Being a full member of one of the British orders affords certain privileges (among them, in some cases, eligibility to be a member of the governing chapter of the order). This is not considered appropriate in the case of someone who doesn't owe fealty to the British monarch.

    In addition, each class of each British order has a numerical limit; honorary members don't count against those limits.

    The U.S. constitutional restriction makes no allowance for "honorary honors;" there's an "of any kind whatever" in the relevant section (Art I, sec 9). This did not apply to Presidents Reagan and Bush only because both had completed their terms before the honors were conferred. They no longer held "any office of profit or trust" under the United States, and thus didn't belong to the class of people restricted from receiving such things.

  2. #2
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    Post deleted.
    Last edited by Bugbear; 20th October 11 at 12:13 PM. Reason: Out of place.
    I tried to ask my inner curmudgeon before posting, but he sprayed me with the garden hose…
    Yes, I have squirrels in my brain…

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    On the other hand, Congress has granted such permission on occasion. IIRC, there was a blanket permission granted to American service members during the Second World War.

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    Yes, the blanket permission in WWII is what allowed Eisenhower to accept the boatload of orders and decorations he was offered at the end of the war.

    In 1966, Congress gave blanket permission government-wide "to the accepting, retaining, and wearing by an employee of a decoration tendered in recognition of active field service in time of combat operations or awarded for other outstanding or unusually meritorious performance, subject to the approval of the employing agency of such employee."

    The President is included in this blanket permission, but I'm not sure who he has to ask for approval as the head of his employing agency. As I said, most if not all Presidents have accepted foreign orders and decorations only after leaving office.

  5. #5
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    Forgien awards

    Personally I have no problem with any of this topic. Yet I have wondered about Presidents Kennedy & Clinton accepting a grant of arms from Ireland, which is the highest honor Ireland has to offer to my understanding. Does this not violate this too?

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    Re: Foreign Honors for U.S. Presidents (and others)

    I would say that a coat of arms is never an honor, and while the College of Arms, Lyon Court, and the Chief Herald of Canada disagree with me, the Chief Herald of Ireland does not. So not only is an Irish grant of arms not Ireland's highest honor, it's not an honor at all.

    But it is not "honors" that are prohibited by the Constitution, but presents, emoluments, offices, and titles. A coat of arms is obviously not an office or title. If granted without cost, it is a present or emolument. But the law permits a government official, including the president, to accept presents or emoluments below a certain value (which changes over time) for himself. Above that value, they become the property of the government.

    I would say that a grant of arms consists of two parts: the exclusive right to use the arms, and the document (letters patent) memorializing that right. The right to use the arms has no market value because once granted it cannot be sold, so it obviously falls below the legal threshhold. The letters patent for both Kennedy and Clinton belong to the U.S. National Archives and are housed at their respective presidential libraries. No problem.

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    Re: Foreign Honors for U.S. Presidents (and others)

    As for honors in Ireland perhaps this changes as to attitude and definition with the different Chief Heralds. About twelve years ago an article about arms was printed in "Irish Roots" magazine, in which the author stated that a grant of arms was the only honor to give by Ireland. I'd say this position has changed.

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    Re: Foreign Honors for U.S. Presidents (and others)

    Aside from the personal honors, you will find that government officials, especially presidents, will often accept gifts "on behalf of the United States". Thus, it becomes a gift to the nation and not the individual.

    The whole clause was included in the Constitution to keep government officials from accepting things from other governments, especially titles, so that the officials maintained their loyalty with the US and it wasn't split with other nations. They wanted to avoid conflicts of interest.
    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb

  9. #9
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    Re: Foreign Honors for U.S. Presidents (and others)

    While foreign honours are a hot button issue for Americans, particularly, I see things slightly differently from Joe McMillan.
    I do see a grant of arms as an honour of sorts – although I am not sure whether arms that are registered, rather than granted, should be viewed in the same light.
    (I am currently making an application to Pretoria for registration of my arms.)
    But a coat of arms is certainly not a title of nobility.
    There is no reason to deny a US citizen arms, whether granted in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Ottawa or on the European Continent.
    Republican registrations (state or private) should not be an issue either.
    What I do find distasteful is a trend (among a minority in the US) to purchase dubious titles from self-proclaimed vendors, and then display nobiliary accoutrements with their arms.
    This sort of self-aggrandizement is illegal in Scotland, but is nigh impossible to control anywhere else in the world.
    Regards,
    Mike
    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life.
    [Proverbs 14:27]

  10. #10
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    Re: Foreign Honors for U.S. Presidents (and others)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Oettle View Post
    While foreign honours are a hot button issue for Americans, particularly, I see things slightly differently from Joe McMillan.
    I do see a grant of arms as an honour of sorts – although I am not sure whether arms that are registered, rather than granted, should be viewed in the same light.
    (I am currently making an application to Pretoria for registration of my arms.)
    But a coat of arms is certainly not a title of nobility.
    There is no reason to deny a US citizen arms, whether granted in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Ottawa or on the European Continent.
    Republican registrations (state or private) should not be an issue either.
    What I do find distasteful is a trend (among a minority in the US) to purchase dubious titles from self-proclaimed vendors, and then display nobiliary accoutrements with their arms.
    This sort of self-aggrandizement is illegal in Scotland, but is nigh impossible to control anywhere else in the world.
    Regards,
    Mike
    Grants of arms are not so much "grants" by a sovereign as they are "requests" from a petitioner. Lord Lyon considers a grant of arms to be a grant of certain nobility: see Innes of Learny. In this instance, with respect to the US Constitution, I think that Colin Powell, who recieved his grant from LL while still serving as Secretary of State, is the only modern example of one who may have crossed that line. As for Irish Grants to sitting or past presidents, those "grants" are in no way noble or of any such considered honor: they are a matter of genealogical record only, and for that matter there has been a real stir with respect to validity of Irish grants for some time now. I see them as a matter of fun and interest for those who have a spare $5000 or so. Other than teh "nobilty clause" from Lord Lyon, I think you're right: arms are for everyone.

    As for these "title" merchants; I agree with you. It's a sad state actually and all we can do is keep the general public informed about such nonsense.

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