Claim: Lawyer provides a caustic response when asked to demonstrate that the title to a Louisiana property was held before 1803.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:
Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin.Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:
Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than theThey got it.
194 yearscovered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by the U.S. from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the then reigning monarch, Isabelle. The good queen, being a pious woman and careful about titles, almost as much as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to fund Columbus' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that He also made that part of the world called Louisiana. He, therefore, would be the owner of origin. I hope to hell you find His original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn loan?
Origins: The tale recounted above is an embellished version of a piece of legal humor that is periodically dusted off and circulated anew, always as a "true story." In 2006 it was updated with references to Hurricane Katrina and set loose again, and since 2008 it has been circulated as an account of a case supposedly handled by Barack Obama.
Internet-circulated and even Hurricane Katrina-specific versions notwithstanding, this piece of humor originated at least as far back as the 1930s and in its original form was a joke about Southerners' poking fun at
An attorney in Louisiana was hired by a firm in
I traced your deed back to 1803. Here it is complete. As you probably know, Louisiana was purchased from France in 1803. France had acquired Louisiana from the Spanish as the result of a successful war against the Spaniards. The Spanish acquired Louisiana as the result of the explorations of an Italian named Columbus. Columbus was financially backed by Isabella and Ferdinand. Isabella and Ferdinand were given permission for Columbus' expedition by the Pope. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. Christ is the Son of God. God made Louisiana.
Last updated: 19 March 2015
Megarry, R.E. Miscellany-at-Law: A Diversion for Lawyers and Others. London: Stevens and Sons Ltd., 1955. (pp. 149-150). Prochnow, Herbert V. Speakers and Toastmasters Handbook. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1990. ISBN 1-55958-038-0 (p. 230). The Wall Street Journal. "By-the-Bye in Wall Street." 6 Apr 1936.