"sacred honour", "office of honour"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Apr 9 18:11:33 UTC 2013

At 4/9/2013 11:14 AM, Baker, John wrote:
>The initial question is, what is an
>office?  This discussion from an 1858 case
>appears to reflect the rule generally:
><<The term office has no legal or technical
>meaning attached to it, distinct from its
>ordinary acceptations. An office is a public
>charge or employment; but, as every employment
>is not an office, it is sometimes difficult to
>distinguish between employments which are, and
>those which are not offices. It is generally, if
>not universally true that a duty or employment
>arising out of a contract, and dependent for its
>duration and extent upon the terms of such
>contract is never considered an office. An
>officer, as defined by Blackstone, is a right to
>exercise a public or private employment, and to
>take the fees and emoluments thereunto
>belonging, whether public, as those of
>magistrates, or private, as bailiffs, receivers,
>and the like. 2 Blacks. Com. 36. And it is laid
>down "that a public officer is one who has some
>duty to perform concerning the public; and he is
>not the less a public officer when his duty is
>confined to narrow limits, because it is the duty, and the nature of t!
>  hat duty, which makes him a public officer,
> and not the extent of his authority." 7 Bac.
> Ab. 280; Carthew, 479. And we apprehend that it
> may be stated as universally true, that where
> an employment or duty is a continuing one,
> which is defined by rules prescribed by law and
> not by contract, such a charge or employment is
> an office, and the person who performs it is an officer.>>
>Shelby v. Alcorn, 36 Miss. 273 (1858).
>An office of "profit" is simply an office with
>monetary compensation, of whatever
>description.  In contrast, an office of "burden"
>was an unwelcome office without compensation,
>which most would pay to avoid - not seen in the
>United States, as far as I know, but familiar to
>early American lawyers from their knowledge of the English system.

Seen in America (definitely in Massachusetts) in
colonial times, when persons elected by Town
Meetings to be tax collectors, or to some minor
offices (e.g., I believe, the watch), often
declined and were fined, and a substitute had to be found.


>An office of "honor" seems to have been an
>office without compensation, but to which people
>were drawn because of its distinction.  Id.
>It's difficult to find a clear definition of an
>office of "trust," but it seems to have been an
>office with responsibility.  One case holds that
>all offices of profit are also offices of
>trust.  Doty v. State, 6 Blackf. 529 (Ind. 1843).
>I realize that these cases are a little later
>than 1787, but I doubt if the meaning would have changed much during that time.
>John Baker
>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society
>[mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Joel S. Berson
>Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 9:02 AM
>Subject: Re: "sacred honour", "office of honour"
>So there does appear to be a distinction.  I am
>interested in the definitions of each office --
>honor, trust, profit -- that show these
>differences.  Not in whether or not the phrase
>"offices of honor, trust, and profit" was intended to be all-encompassing.
>P.S.  I'm sure the Founders were thinking about
>offices where the office-holder was entitled to a
>part of the revenues -- offices such as customs
>agent or surveyor of the woods -- or, we might
>remember, the "Stamp Man".  Such officers were
>appointed by the Crown, and were a constant
>source of contention with the colonists.  And
>were consumers of tar and feathers.  Whether or
>not "office of profit" meant any office with pay,
>or only such "farmed" offices, I don't know.
>But there was this sense of "profit" -- 3. A
>material benefit derived from a property, *position*, etc.; income, revenue.
>    1661   in J. D. Marwick Extracts Rec. Burgh
>Glasgow (1881) II. 461   To Charles M'Clean,
>jylour [£20]..for his extraordinarie paines in
>attending the tolbuith..having got no profeit therby.
>    1710   E. Freke Diary 8 Sept. in Jrnl. Cork
>Hist. & Archaeol. Soc. (1912) 18 94   The tithes
>& prophitts belong to the Church and Rectory.
>    1788  Astræa 76   The Sheriff was the King's
>Farmer, and was to account for the issues and
>profits of his bailiwick at Easter and Michaelmas.
>At 4/8/2013 10:35 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> >The Constitution says: "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."
> >
> >Seems to me the Founders were thinking about such things.
> >
> >DanG
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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