On President Trump’s Assumption of Another Man’s Arms

Recently, the arms used by the Trump Organization has come into the public light. The New York Times, on May 28th, 2017, published an article by Danny Hakim entitled The Coat of Arms Said ‘Integrity.’ Now It Says ‘Trump.’. The article outlines the history of the arms, which were granted to Joseph Edward Davies in 1939. Mr. Davies was the third husband of Marjorie Merriweather Post, who built Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort now owned by the Trump Organization. What can be inferred from the article is that Mr. Trump, in his acquisition of Mar-a-Lago, also believes himself to have acquired rights to the arms in question.

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Image courtesy of the New York Times

I’ll do my best to avoid being political in my response to the notion of assuming another man’s arms. As a gentleman should, though, I try my best (and sometimes fail) to stay above the political quagmire. This particular issue, for me at least, is not of a political nature, but a question of honorable action.

I am not saying that Mr. Trump is dishonorable. I am saying that assuming someone’s arms that have been granted by a heraldic authority such as the College of Arms is a dishonorable action. I realize that the College of Arms has no jurisdiction in the United States, or anywhere outside its very limited realm of authority, but its still bad form. The arms displayed on Mar-a-Lago when Mr. Trump purchased it were not intellectual property or a trademark to be transferred with the purchase of that wonderful estate (if estate is a fitting term for a resort), but the personal property of a past owner, to be transmitted to his posterity, independent of where he might have displayed them in his lifetime. On this issue, I find myself at odds with Mr. Trump.

I realize that as the de facto leader of the free world, Mr. Trump faces intense criticism, much of which is of debatable validity. I am not here to heap burning coals. Heraldry, anachronistic as it may be, is nonetheless a passion of mine, and I do not wish to see it diminished by anyone, especially by someone such as Mr. Trump who seems to enjoy its use.

In fact, in December of 2016 after Mr. Trump was elected President of the United States I sent a letter to him, that in part, made this petition:

Now, to the main point of my letter: I am writing to ask your consideration in expanding the role of The Institute of Heraldry (www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil) to include civic, corporate, and personal grants of arms. I have observed that you are an admirer of armorial bearings, and I think the expansion of the Institute fits in with your pledge to make America great again. America’s greatness is displayed in our symbols, from Old Glory to the Great Seal to the bald eagle. The federal government and the military make excellent use of heraldic devices, I would love to see formal recognition of personal coats of arms.

To date, I have not received a response to this letter. Granted, I sent it care of the Trump Organization’s address at Trump Tower in New York, before he had been sworn in as President. Maybe I should resend it to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I went on to make the case for a republic to have a heraldic authority:

Like you Mr. Trump, I have a coat of arms that I have assumed [N.B. I was not aware of the controversy surrounding his assumed arms at the time], which is all that is possible in America since there is no equivalent of the Court of the Lord Lyon or College of Arms for the granting of private arms. The best I can do to have my arms recognized by a heraldic body is to provide genealogical evidence of ancestry from a nation with an official heraldic body and petition for an honorary grant of arms. This is a very time consuming and costly effort. I could also petition another heraldic body that does not have descendancy limitations, such as the South African Bureau of Heraldry, which is less costly, but also carries less meaning since I have no hereditary affiliation to South Africa.

There are a few notable examples of republics that grant arms: South Africa, which I have already mentioned, and Ireland. Both of these republics have historical ties to Great Britain, as do we, and they do not find heraldry incompatible with their republicanism. Likewise several prominent Americans have been granted arms: President George Washington, through his decent from an armigerous ancestor; President Dwight D. Eisenhower, assigned/assumed in relation to his investiture in the Order of the Elephant; President John F. Kennedy, who was awarded a grant of arms from the Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland; and Secretary Colin Powell, who matriculated a coat of arms granted to his father, a Jamaican subject, from the Court of the Lord Lyon based on his mother’s Scottish heritage.

In amending the mission of The Institute of Heraldry, which would be well within your prerogative as Chief Executive, you would enable thousands of Americans to obtain formal recognition for their assumed arms.

I think expanding the role of the Institute of Heraldry could solve Mr. Trump’s woes in his improperly assumed arms, and provide American citizens the opportunity to have recognized grants of arms. I realize that adopting arms that differ from those that rightfully belong to the male heir of Joseph Edward Davies would be very costly for Mr. Trump, but it is the right thing to do. It is not a display of integrity to reuse a man’s arms without difference, except for changing the motto on the scroll from “Integritas” to “Trump”. I realize in the United States this may be “legal”, but it is most certainly not “gentlemanly”.

Am I asserting that Mr. Trump is not a gentleman; by all means, NO. Mr. Trump was elected as President with the mandate to Make America Great Again. I support him wholeheartedly in doing so. I just happen to think that part of that making great also includes following tradition. I’ve prayed for Mr. Trump’s success as President in doing the will of God, just as I did for his predecessor Mr. Obama. I didn’t pray for their individual success, I prayed for God’s blessings on the Nation through their leadership.

Mr. Trump is not old money and he doesn’t come from an established line of American “aristocracy”. He is a self-made man. He doesn’t need the arms of another man to provide him standing in society. One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby. Mr. Trump reminds me of Jay Gatsby. He’s got the money; he’s in the right places, yet the old money snobs will never accept him. Mr. Trump’s story, at the trajectory it is on, will end much better than that of Jay Gatsby. Most importantly, Mr. Trump has a family to carry on the great name he is making. They have the potential to be a leading family in the American nobility (I can hear the shrill liberal screams of “liberté, égalité, fraternité” as I type this).

I think that one thing that Mr. Trump could do to secure that legacy would be to adopt his own unique arms, or have conferred upon him by some foreign state with a heraldic authority unique arms. These arms would be differenced among his sons, and passed on to their sons’ sons. This legitimate armorial achievement might even be as enduring as those borne by General George Washington, which he had hereditary right to through an armigerous ancestor.

Even if wholly unique arms are a step too far, Mr. Trump should at least difference the arms currently in use enough that they then become unique. Add a bordure, a canton, or something. Put a bald eagle in chief. Just something. The brand recognition would be retained and heraldry geeks such as me wouldn’t be blowing a gasket.

 

 

The Commander-in-Chief of What?

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

An article recently published by David Boaz on the the Cato Institute website is a good reminder of the limitations of the office of POTUS. We the People have acceded too much power to the head of the federal government in a way that is contrary to the Constitution. In the article, Mr. Boaz states:

[I]t’s important for our understanding of a constitutional republic to be clear on these points. The president is the chief executive of the federal government. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces, not of the entire government and definitely not of 320 million U.S. citizens.

https://www.cato.org/blog/president-not-commander-chief-united-states-nor-its-ceo

We have afforded quasi-monarchical status to the office in recent years: this is not a new notion. We must remember that there were those who wanted General Washington to be the king of the United States; he flatly refused. He set a precedent that the President be limited in power. We must remember this if we are to remain a Representative Republic.

Likewise, “Commander-in-Chief” is a martial role. It represents the President’s role as the head of the military, but he does not have the power to declare war; that power is reserved to Congress, although they have abrogated that responsibility since WWII. That being said, the military has no obligation to Congress, per se, as affirmed in the Oath of Enlistment:

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

http://www.history.army.mil/html/faq/oaths.html

The oath for officers is slightly different:

I, ______ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.

https://history.army.mil/html/faq/oaths.html

Officers do not swear/affirm obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them]. They are to make conscious decisions to give lawful commands in accordance with the Constitution.

Officers do not swear/affirm obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over [them]. They are to make conscious decisions to give lawful commands in accordance with the Constitution.

Natural born citizens do not swear/affirm such oaths as this, but naturalized citizens must swear/affirm a similar oath:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

https://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/naturalization-test/naturalization-oath-allegiance-united-states-america

While there is no allegiance to the President, there is in all three oaths two common elements: 1) the person will uphold and defend the Constitution and 2) the person solemnified the oath “so help [them] God. With this affirmation, the person binds himself to the laws of the land and invokes the name of the Almighty to assist them in doing so.

As Southern Gentlemen, we have an obligation to obey those in authority over us. We are not, however, serfs of the State. We must maintain our dignity and ensure those elected to lead in all levels of government remain faithful to their offices and remain within the bounds set forth for them in the Constitution.

Cooking is a Manly Skill

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

Graham Seibert recently posted an article at Return of Kings citing eight reasons why a man should teach his son to cook:

  1. Cooking gives a boy adult responsibilities
  2. Cooking is educational
  3. Cooks pay attention to their health
  4. Cooking is thrifty
  5. Cooks learn to clean up
  6. Cooking saves time
  7. Ladies love men who cook
  8. Cooking is highly social

You can read this excellent article in its entirety here, but I’d like to share another reason that my father impressed upon me at an early age.

Being a grizzled veteran of the vile divorce wars, he told me in absolute terms that someday my wife might leave me, and if I didn’t know how to cook I’d starve. Granted, there’s a bit of hyperbole given the preponderance of restaurants this nation is blessed with, but the admonition was seared into my conscience. Thankfully, the Good LORD has blessed me with a loving and faithful wife, so I’ve never had to test my father’s theory.

Old Hickory 

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

I have a love-hate relationship with General Jackson over the treatment of the Five Civilized Tribes and his expansion of Executive power as President, but he was a man of action and unafraid to defend any perceived slights to his honor. Old Hickory is a complicated figure indeed.

That being said, this website has a great photo and short paragraph about Old Hickory’s tomb.

Ressurecting Honor

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

I want want to share with you a well written article titled Ressurecting Honor that was recently posted on By Spear and Axe. 

The author reinforces many of the points that have been made on this site. I’m proud to live in the South where the honor culture still exists, but it has been greatly eroded in the past couple generations. 

Once people stopped holding their honor as sacred, the world began a nasty descent into what it has become today. Men and women both view relationships, even marriage, as temporary arrangements and get married only for tax benefits or to be on one another’s insurance, nothing more. So-called “protestors” initiate violence regularly. Alleged leaders defend a would-be killer and excoriate the police officer who ended the threat.

https://21stcenturymasculinity.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/resurrecting-honor/

The author goes beyond pointing out the problem and offers some solutions:

  • Don’t Be Self-Righteous About It
  • Treat People Like Your Life Depends On It
  •  Own Up To Your Mistakes…Then Make Amends

These are all areas that a true Southern Gentleman will recognize as essential to maintaining honor, and I commend the author on bringing them to our attention. 

Read the full article here. 

Is Game a Modern Rite of Initiation?

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

A few weeks ago an article was posted on Return of Kings that was titled Game Is A Modern Rite Of Passage That Helps Turn Boys Into Men. I’d like to briefly explore some elements of that article. Mr. Anthony begins by stating this fact:

Anyone who’s been involved in the manosphere for long enough knows about the concept of a rite of passage. For tens of thousands of years, when boys hit the age of puberty, they were forced to undergo a set of challenges.

These challenges were meant to break them down, and build them back up even stronger. These challenges were meant to test them as men, and they are collectively known as an “initiation,” or as a “rite of passage.” When a boy successfully completed the tasks laid before him, he became a man.

Our society, for the most part, lacks these rites of passage. This is, in large part, why there is such a lack of masculinity in our culture—boys are never given a chance to develop into men. We have all of these 45 year old boyish-men running around for a reason: there exists no institutionalized rite of passage in the West.

http://www.returnofkings.com/99770/game-is-a-modern-rite-of-passage-that-helps-turn-boys-into-men

When I look back at my own life, the closest thing I had to a rite of passage was Basic Training. I’d imagine that would be the case with many men of my generation. I’d enlisted in the Army National Guard my Junior year of high school and went to Ft. Jackson, SC, the summer before my Senior year in what was called the “Alabama Buddy Platoon”. A whole platoon (and a half) of Alabama kids spent a summer setting aside racial differences, as the platoon was fairly evenly split black and white, being broken down as individuals to become soldiers. We had a Puerto Rican drill sergeant who absolutely enjoyed forcing us to sing the Hee-Haw Song: he considered us all rednecks. When I finished Basic and went back to school, it was if all my friends had reverted to Kindergarteners, but I knew I was the one who’d changed. 

The author explains his reasoning of why rites of initiation are essential and why he believes that Game can fill the void:

I believe that, although it isn’t perfect, game is a phenomenal substitute for this lack of a male initiation ritual. Game provides us with many of the characteristics that you need to be a man, and it has many of the characteristics that the old rituals of the past did:
ŸŸ- Destroys your ego
– Requires you to face your fears
– Forces you to be decisive, in times of uncertainty
– Develops confidence, ferocity, and a strong will

While I like the aspects presented, here is my dissention with the premise: Game is largely focused on sexual satisfaction, although I’ve seen a bit of maturity beyond the original PUA mentality in recent years. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes where we are told “There is nothing new under the sun” which I wholeheartedly agree with. Game isn’t a modern innovation, it’s a rediscovery of lost knowledge adapted to deal with the dysfunctional society we live in. My disagreement on Game as a rite of initiation is that it serves as an unguided act without the tribal and paternal interaction with father and elders that are traditionally part of such rites. 

I’m not knocking Game as a rite of initiation; it’s a better option for instilling manhood than almost anyone else is offering. It comes about eight or so years later than most traditional rites of initiation, but so did my Basic Training experience. It leaves early teens still wandering between childhood and adulthood without offering a guiding hand.

Here is where those of us with sons or nephews nearing that age can fill the gap. We can be the men to restore the traditions of our ancestors, which requires us to learn them. We can restore tribal identity in a morass of globalist non-identity. That means, for me at least, looking at my Welsh and Ulster Scots ancestors to see what kinds of rites they had. What did their descendants do after settling in the South? Fortunately for me, I still have a few years before my son comes of age. 

In all, I encourage you to read the article. In this post-modern era, we’re all struggling to maintain tradition and identity, and Mr. Anthony’s article is as good as any other on the topic, and far superior to any progressive notions on how one becomes a man. 

Read the full article here. 

On Meritocracy and Experts

[N.B. I originally posted this article on the Society of Southern Gentlemen blog. I don’t plan to maintain that site, so I am merging all the posts there onto this site, but keeping the original timestamps.]

The word “meritocracy” is one which we’ve seen thrown around a lot in recent years. In theory, the word would describe the rule by those with the most “merit” (which would, on its face, seem to make it a synonym for aristocracy, but in practice this is most certainly not the case). As it is popularly used in the media and other outlets, it tends to take on a very narrow definition, with “merit” appearing to be used synonymously with “bureaucrat” or “public policy wonk.” In other words, those which our society considers to have merit are those who would more properly be classified as “experts.”

https://neociceroniantimes.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/on-meritocracy-and-experts/

Continue reading the full article here.