Skip to comments.Citizenship: the Last Word
Posted on 03/13/2013 12:31:17 PM PDT by Menehune56
Considering the experience that one of its co-authors has concerning electoral matters, today's article by Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison on the eligibility of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, and Bobby Jindal to run for president ought to end the matter. It won't, of course. Debates over that topic have proven not only self-perpetuating but self-generating -- every time you think they've died down for good, they flare up once again.
(Excerpt) Read more at americanthinker.com ...
The very first Republican Party nominee for President (in the election of 1856), John Fremont, was born in the U.S. but he was the child of two aliens who never became citizens. No one at the time questioned his eligibility.
Are you certain? I'm pretty sure his mother was American.
His father, though, was clearly a Frenchman who was not a naturalized US citizen, and had no intention of ever becoming one. He was planning to take his family to France when he died.
That would be because that is the historical understanding of natural born citizen. Here are early sources on what the phrase meant:
French translation of the Constitution by Phillip Mazzei, Thomas Jefferson's VERY close friend and next-door neighbor (translated, 1788):
Nobody, without being a born citizen, or having been a citizen of the United States at the time
This is from Mazzei's sweeping 4-volume work on The History and Politics of the United States of America. One of the very earliest published statements of what the natural born citizen requirement meant, it equates natural born citizen with born citizen. Given the extremely close lifelong relationship of Jefferson and Mazzei, this can almost certainly be considered authoritative as to what Thomas Jefferson himself understood "natural born citizen" to mean.
James Madison, House of Representatives (1789):
"It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance. Birth however derives its force sometimes from place and sometimes from parentage, but in general place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States; it will therefore be unnecessary to investigate any other. Mr. Smith founds his claim upon his birthright; his ancestors were among the first settlers of that colony."
Madison, the Father of the Constitution, mentions both jus soli and jus sanguinis here. But notice the emphasis: "In general place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States."
The First Congress (1790):
"And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens.".
Our very first Congress specified that the overseas-born children of US citizens "shall be considered as natural born Citizens."
This Congress included James Madison, the "Father of the Constitution." These men were well aware of the Presidential eligibility clause, and they clarified that those born overseas to US citizens were eligible to the Presidency. This makes it absolutely clear: the idea that eligibility requires BOTH birth on US soil AND citizen parents is FALSE. In this instance, our early leaders specified that citizen parents ALONE was quite enough.
French translation by a friend of Benjamin Franklin (translated, 1792):
No one except a natural, born a citizen (or possibly, No one except a natural-born citizen)
By the French Duc de la Rochefoucauld, who knew Benjamin Franklin personally. No mention whatsoever of parentage.
Zephaniah Swift, A system of the laws of the state of Connecticut: in six books, Volumes 1-2 of A System of the Laws of the State of Connecticut: In Six Book, pg. 163,167 (1795):
"The children of aliens, born in this state, are considered as natural born subjects, and have the same rights with the rest of the citizens.
Speaks for the State of Connecticut. Remember, there is no documentation ANYWHERE that says "natural born citizen" ever meant anything different from "natural born subject," except for the difference between "citizen" and "subject." Swift's legal treatise was read all over the United States, including by several Presidents and several US Supreme Court Justices.
Alexander Hamilton on how to understand the meaning of the terms used in the Constitution (1795):
"What is the distinction between direct and indirect taxes? It is a matter of regret that terms so uncertain and vague in so important a point are to be found in the Constitution... unfortunately, there is equally here a want of criterion to distinguish duties, imposts, and excises from taxes... where so important a distinction in the Constitution is to be realized, it is fair to seek the meaning of terms in the statutory language of that country from which our jurisprudence is derived."
Hamilton tells us that our jurisprudence has been derived from that of England, and that if we want to understand the meaning of terms used in the Constitution, the place to look is to the laws of England that came before.
French translation, (translated, 1799):
No one shall be eligible to the office of President, if he is not born a citizen of the United States
Born a citizen. Once again, it appears the correct definition of "natural born citizen" is simply: born a citizen.
St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England (1803):
That provision in the constitution which requires that the president shall be a native-born citizen (unless he were a citizen of the United States when the constitution was adopted) is a happy means of security against foreign influence A very respectable political writer makes the following pertinent remarks upon this subject. Prior to the adoption of the constitution, the people inhabiting the different states might be divided into two classes: natural born citizens, or those born within the state, and aliens, or such as were born out of it.
Tucker was one of the most important early legal experts. He totally equates "native-born" (which always simply meant born in America) with "natural born," and approvingly quotes another writer who said natural born citizens are "those born within the state."
Garder v. Ward, 2 Mass. 244 (1805):
...a man born within the jurisdiction of the common law is a citizen of the country wherein he is born. By this circumstance of his birth, he is subjected to the duty of allegiance which is claimed and enforced by the sovereign of his native land, and becomes reciprocally entitled to the protection of that sovereign, and to the other rights and advantages which are included in the term citizenship.
In Massachusetts, they followed the common law. This is consistent with Wong Kim Ark and everything else. (Except, of course, the claims of birthers.)
Kilham v. Ward 2 Mass. 236, 26 (1806):
The doctrine of the common law is that every man born within its jurisdiction is a subject of the sovereign of the country where he is born, and allegiance is not personal to the sovereign in the extent that has been contended for; it is due to him in his political capacity of sovereign of the territory where the person owing the allegiance as born.
Once again, Massachusetts uses the common law as the precedent for citizenship..
Ainslie v. Martin, 9 Mass. 454, 456, 457 (1813):
Our statutes recognize alienage and its effects, but have not defined it. We must therefore look to the common law for its definition. By this law, to make a man an alien, he must be born without the allegiance of the commonwealth; although persons may be naturalized or expatriated by statute, or have the privileges of subjects conferred or secured by a national compact.
Amy v. Smith, 11 Ky. 326, 340 (Ky. 1822)
The 5th section of the 2d article provides, that no person except a natural born citizen, shall become president. A plain acknowledgment, that a man may become a citizen by birth, and that he may be born such.
Kentucky equated "natural born citizen" with "CITIZEN BY BIRTH."
From a Spanish language book on the Constitution (translated, 1825):
The President is elected from among all citizens born in the United States, of the age of thirty-five years
From among ALL CITIZENS BORN IN THE UNITED STATES. No mention of parentage.
French translation by the private secretary of the Marquis de Lafayette, who was a personal friend of George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe, 1826:
No individual, other than a citizen born in the United States
This translation is important for a number of reasons. First, the Marquis had himself been MADE a natural born citizen of Maryland. So he had darn good reason to know what the phrase meant. Secondly, he was a good friend of every single one of our first six Presidents. This included George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe. (And John Quincy Adams, too.)
James Kent, COMMENTARIES ON AMERICAN LAW (1826):
And if, at common law, all human beings born within the ligeance of the King, and under the Kings obedience, were natural-born subjects, and not aliens, I do not perceive why this doctrine does not apply to these United States, in all cases in which there is no express constitutional or statute declaration to the contrary. . . . Subject and citizen are, in a degree, convertible terms as applied to natives, and though the term citizen seems to be appropriate to republican freemen, yet we are, equally with the inhabitants of all other countries, subjects, for we are equally bound by allegiance and subjection to the government and law of the land.
Common law, natural born subjects, SAME THING APPLIES HERE. Also, subject and citizen can be used interchangeably. Kent was another of our top early legal experts, which we are rapidly running out of. More from Kent:
As the President is required to be a native citizen of the United States . Natives are all persons born within the jurisdiction and allegiance of the United States.
Once again, NATIVE. Allegiance simply refers to the same historical precedent. Any person born within the country was born within the allegiance of the country, unless his parents were foreign ambassadors or royalty, or members of an occupying army. We also added two more exceptions: Indians in tribes, because Indian tribes were considered to be just like foreign nations that we did not control and made treaties with, and slaves, because they were legally considered to be property, not people.
French books on the Constitution:
The President must be a born citizen [or born a citizen] of the United States " (1826)
Born citizen, born a citizen.
No one, unless he is a native citizen (1829)
Native citizen. No mention of parentage whatsoever.
By the way, the list of quotes from this time period saying the President had to be a "native" is not exhaustive. I have only included those from the most authoritative sources.
Leake v. Gilchrist, 13 N.C. 73 (N.C. 1829)
The country where one is born, how accidental soever his birth in that place may have been, and although his parents belong to another country, is that to which he owes allegiance. Hence the expression natural born subject or citizen, & all the relations thereout growing. To this there are but few exceptions, and they are mostly introduced by statutes and treaty regulations, such as the children of seamen and ambassadors born abroad, and the like.
Again explicitly states that birth in the country makes on a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN, even if one's parents are ALIENS.
William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States, pg. 86 (1829)
Therefore every person born within the United States, its territories or districts, whether the parents are citizens or aliens, is a natural born citizen in the sense of the Constitution, and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity.
You really can't get any clearer, well-stated, and absolute. Again, Rawle was a legal expert. He was VERY close to both Franklin AND Washington, held meetings with them in the months leading up to the Constitutional Convention, and was in Philadelphia WHILE THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION WAS TAKING PLACE.
Justice Joseph Story, concurring opinion, Inglis v. Sailors Snug Harbor, 3 Pet. 99, 155,164. (1830):
Nothing is better settled at the common law than the doctrine that the children even of aliens born in a country while the parents are resident there under the protection of the government and owing a temporary allegiance thereto are subjects by birth.
Story was a LEGENDARY Justice on the Supreme Court. And he tells us, quite clearly, that NOTHING is BETTER SETTLED.
American Jurist and Law Magazine, January, 1834:
From the close of the revolutionary war to the time of the adoption of the constitution of the United States, all persons born in this country became citizens of the respective States within whose jurisdiction they were born, by the rule of the common law, unless where they were prevented from becoming citizens by the constitution or statutes of the place of their birth.
Again: The rule was by the common law.
Another French translation, 1837:
No one can be President, unless he is born in the United States
Once again, born in the US. No mention at all of parentage. As is ALWAYS the case.
State v. Manuel, 4 Dev. & Bat. 20, 24-26 (1838):
Before our Revolution, all free persons born within the dominions of the King of Great Britain, whatever their color or complexion, were native-born British subjects; those born out of his allegiance were aliens. . . . Upon the Revolution, no other change took place in the law of North Carolina than was consequent upon the transition from a colony dependent on an European King to a free and sovereign State; . The term citizen, as understood in our law, is precisely analogous to the term subject in the common law, and the change of phrase has entirely resulted from the change of government. The sovereignty has been transferred from one man to the collective body of the people, and he who before as a subject of the king is now a citizen of the State.
Straight-out tells us: natural born subjects became natural born citizens, and NO OTHER CHANGE in the citizenship rules took place. In other words, children of aliens born in the US were natural born citizens, because they were always natural born subjects before.
From Spanish books on the Constitution:
No one can be President who has not been born a citizen of the United States, or who is one at the time of the adoption of this Constitution (1837)
Born a citizen.
The President must be a citizen born in the United States " (1848)
Born in the United States. No mention of parents.
Acts of the State of Tennessee passed at the General Assembly, pg. 266 (1838):
That all natural born citizens, or persons born within the limits of the United States, and all aliens subject to the restrictions hereinafter mentioned, may inherit real estate and make their pedigree by descent from any ancestor lineal or collateral
The State of Tennessee defined natural born citizens are those born in the United States. No mention at all of parents.
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, in his Constitutional handbook, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States. (1840)
"It is not too much to say, that no one, but a native citizen, ought ordinarily to be intrusted with an office so vital to the safety and liberties of the people."
Bouvier Law Dictionary (1843):
...no person except a natural born subject can be a governor of a State, or President of the United States.
America's first prominent law dictionary. Uses NATURAL BORN SUBJECT as an exact equivalent for natural born citizen! Thus showing again, there was no practical difference between the two.
Lynch vs. Clarke (NY 1844):
The term citizen, was used in the constitution as a word, the meaning of which was already established and well understood. And the constitution itself contains a direct recognition of the subsisting common law principle, in the section which defines the qualification of the President The only standard which then existed, of a natural born citizen, was the rule of the common law, and no different standard has been adopted since. Suppose a person should be elected President who was native born, but of alien parents, could there be any reasonable doubt that he was eligible under the constitution? I think not.
Flat-out ruled that the US born child of alien parents was eligible to the Presidency.
Mr. Clarke's attorneys actually attempted to invoke Vattel. Vice Chancellor Sandford rejected their arguments, noting:
"[Vattel says] in reference to the inquiry whether children born of citizens in a foreign country, are citizens, that the laws have decided the question in several countries, and it is necessary to follow their regulations."
In other words, even according to Vattel, the citizenship laws of England and America were different from his Swiss ideas.
Lysander Spooner, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery, pg. 119 (1845)
Every person, then, born in the country, and that shall have attained the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States, is eligible to the office of president.
Once again, every person born in the country. No mention of parents.
The New Englander, Vol. III, pg. 434 (1845)
It is the very essence of the condition of a natural born citizen, of one who is a member of the state by birth within and under it, that his rights are not derived from the mere will of the state.
A natural born citizen is a member of the state by birth within and under it. Just another way of saying "citizen by birth."
Where are the opposing quotes from early America that say that citizen parents were required? Aside from David Ramsay, who had no legal training and whose citizenship claims were voted down 36 to 1 in a vote led by Father of the Constitution James Madison, THERE ARE NONE.
Its pretty simple if you accept Cruz, Rubio, or Jindal as eligible, you accept Obama as eligible.
Many do I suppose, I don’t.
They are not NBC.
Now the next step is ——is it NBC necessary to be President.
Obviously since Obama is President it is not.
Since that is established it stand to reason we can accpet anything if a majority wants it, The Constitution does not mean anything. A fact that is becoming more obvious every day.
I read that both of his parents were aliens, but I could be wrong. In any event, his nomination in 1856 shows that the idea that it is birth on U.S. soil, and not birth to two citizen parents, that makes a Natural Born Citizen is not a new one.
Yes, it does. Fremont was completely open about his French father. That is featured prominently in his campaign autobiography, and he habitually signed his last name with a French accent over the e.
Nobody seemed to have cared in the least.
Consider this historical question: Could it have been the original intent of the Founders to disqualify themselves from serving as president?The constitution says "No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president;" including a bogus argument doesn't advance your case. The Framers were wise me and careful writers. They meant something by inserting "natural born." Just what they meant I'm not sure as I've read lengthy pieces arguing different meanings. I'd love to see a careful analysis of the subject by a true believer in original intent such as Thomas or Scalia.
I would be interested in where you read that, if you can easily find it again.
Frémont’s mother, Anne Beverley Whiting, was the youngest daughter of socially prominent Virginia planter Col. Thomas Whiting. The colonel died when Anne was less than a year old.
I have assumed she was an American.
“I’ll stick with the definition I was given in high school”
Yeh me too.
But for all the 14th ammendment maniacs who will shortly be on this thread just remember that the words “natural born citizen” are not mentioned anywhere in the 14th Ammendment. The 14th ammemdment did not address the eligibility requirement for the Presidency.
That being said I believe that a willing cabal of GOP and Democrats got together in 2008 and decided to backdoor re-define “natural born citizen” so they could each run a candidate with questionable credentials. Now in 2016 the Republicans will be just as eager to run their ineligible candidates. If so I would like to nominate Nigel Farage. :-)
Cruz = dual citizen at birth - divided loyalties (14th amendment American)
Jindal = Indian (or dual) citizen at birth - divided loyalties (14th amendment American)
Rubio = Cuban (or dual) citizen at birth - divided loyalties (14th amendment American)
Haley = in a quick search I can’t find the status of her Indian parents - likely, she’s an Indian (or dual) citizen at birth - divided loyalties (14th amendment American)
NATURAL born Citizen = dual citizen = 14th amendment citizen ?????
Those stupid, old, white, slave-owning Founders must have just thrown that “natural” word in there for no reason. /sarc
If you require a law to make you a Citizen, not sure how you can be “natural born”.
Also not sure how you work the math on this to make any of them eligible for POTUS.
They threw in "natural born" to distinguish presidential-eligible citizens from naturalized citizens, who were not to be eligible. Citizen at birth= natural born citizen; citizen naturalized after birth= not eligible to be president. The quotes posted earlier in this thread show exactly what the Founders meant when they said "natural born citizen."
You're right, she was. I was mistaken.
Minor v. Happersett , 88 U.S. 162 (1875)
This case concerned Mrs. Happersett, an original suffragette, who in virtue of the 14th Amendment attempted to register to vote in the State of Missouri, and was refused because she was not a man. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in that year, wrote the majority opinion, in which he stated:
The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents.
Supreme court rulings take precedent over French letters and friends of Founders
So you're saying the entire weight of early legal authority is irrelevant to knowing when it comes to what the Founders intended?
In any event, the 2-sentence statement in Minor was clearly dicta. It was an absolute side comment, and had little to do with anything. This is not contested by any significant legal authority in history.
The definitive ruling came in 1898 when the Supreme Court decided US v. Wong Kim Ark, and that ruling affirms the historical understanding.
By the way, I’ve written on that elsewhere. The Court very clearly decided that children born on US soil do NOT have to have even ONE citizen parent in order to be natural born citizens.
“They threw in “natural born” to distinguish presidential-eligible citizens from naturalized citizens, who were not to be eligible.”
If your reasoning is correct, “born Citizen” would have the same effect, right? Why include “natural”?
....His father, though, was clearly a Frenchman who was not a naturalized US citizen, and had no intention of ever becoming one. He was planning to take his family to France when he died......
Really? A frenchman who fought for the Royalists to return to France to possibly be imprisoned or beheaded? Why did he leave?
These guys are really stoopid.
A worthless analysis, really.