Notary Public Day
HISTORY OF NOTARY PUBLIC DAY
The practice of the notary public dates back to ancient Egypt 2750 B.C., a time when recording official transactions became important to humanity. ‘Sesh,’ or Egyptian scribes, were the earliest known chroniclers of history and official communications. Pharaoh Tutankhamen valued record keeping so much that he had writing equipment in his tomb for the afterlife. In the ancient Roman era of 1st century B.C., only a few people could read and write. Public officials were appointed to create written documents of agreement or wills and hold them for safekeeping. The first known notary was a Roman slave called Tiro, who developed a shorthand system he called ‘notae,’ for recording the famed orator Cicero’s speeches.
In medieval Europe, notaries were church officials appointed by the Pope. At the height of the Knight Templars’ power in the 2nd Century A.D., the highly educated Clergy of the Order became notaries for all their business transactions, official documents, orders, and proclamations. After England separated from the Church of Rome at the behest of Henry VIII in the 15th Century, the Archbishop of Canterbury commissioned notaries in the kingdom and her American colonies.
Notaries were an important part of the transatlantic commerce of colonization. Merchants depended on them to be independent third parties, reporting damages to the vessels or cargo in a notarial act called a ‘marine protest.’ The contributions of notaries to colonization are largely credited for the massive success of American business. Only individuals of character and high moral standing were appointed to the notary public. While they were highly respected in society, they were often caught in the deadly crossfire between conflicting camps fighting for control of the New World, for their involvement in authenticating official documents and keeping records.
The United States adopted a part of the French legal system, mostly modeled on the Napoleonic Code, when Louisiana was purchased in 1803, making the state’s legal system unique to this day. Louisiana Notaries have powers similar to those of attorneys. By the early 20th century, the President of the United States had the power to appoint notaries for a five-year term and remove them at his discretion. Today, the Mayor of the District of Columbia appoints notaries. Until that same period, American women couldn’t become notaries. According to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., since no record existed then of women holding the office in England, there was no evidence that women were capable of it. In 2021, two-thirds of the notaries in the U.S. are women.
Notaries are trusted officials who perform several tasks to help society function, and whose service we especially appreciate on Notary Public Day. Notaries serve as impartial witnesses to commercial and private transactions, bringing certainty and integrity to the transactions. Often, notaries public are involved in the signing of important documents. They would confirm the identity of the signers, acknowledge their comprehension of the document and willingness to sign it, and make sure the contents of the documents are genuine. A notary can be authorized by state law to administer oaths and affirmations, issue protests of notes and bills, issue subpoenas, or perform civil marriage ceremonies. They are known to have been involved in important events throughout the history of the United States. Today, there are nearly 4.8 million notaries public in the United States, all of whom serve the common good of legitimizing transactions.
November 7 was specifically chosen as Notary Public Day in recognition of Thomas Fugill, the man who first took the title when he was appointed by the Colony of New Haven on November 7, 1639. Notary Public Day is a time to reflect on the important roles of these public officials.
HOW TO OBSERVE NOTARY PUBLIC DAY
1.Appreciate a local notary public
There’s no better way to observe Notary Public Day than to appreciate a local notary. Gift them tickets to a museum or movie that highlights the importance of their job to the public.
2.Understand their importance
How important are notary public officials? What laws guide their practice? The best way to appreciate their importance to the nation is to learn about them. Visit a local library or archive to read up about their responsibilities and history. Strike up a conversation with a notary about his career and daily work
3.Become a notary public
Yes! Becoming a notary public yourself shows a deep interest in what notaries do and an understanding that they are crucial. If that’s the case then who says you can’t be one to celebrate the career?
WHY NOTARY PUBLIC DAY IS IMPORTANT
A. To appreciate notaries for their service
It’s simple. We celebrate Notary Public Day to recognize and appreciate the importance of notaries to our country. If you happen to come across one today, make sure to show gratitude!
B. It spotlights an otherwise obscure career
The National Notary Association is the body responsible for certifying and encouraging people to choose a career as a notary public. Notary Public Day serves to amplify their efforts by showing people why they would want to be a notary public.
C. To remember their part in U.S. history
The notary public played a crucial role in the history of America, from handling presidential oaths to being involved in the Declaration of Independence. Notary Public Day is a time to reflect on the important roles these public officials carried out in history.
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