Skip to comments.Thomas Jefferson recommends reading Vattels Law of Nations to John Garland Jefferson 11 June 1790
Posted on 05/11/2010 5:41:50 PM PDT by bushpilot1
The Obama bots said the Founders would not use Vattel..this is another example they did.
ping and send a copy to the presidente
“The Obama bots said the Founders would not use Vattel...”
Actually, what this non-birther has argued is that
1) NBC is a phrase not found in Vattel until AFTER the Constitution was written,
2) The phrase was later used in one sentence in Vattel,
3) Vattel was writing philosophy, not a legal dictionary, and
4) the Supreme Court made a decent argument suggesting the original intent of NBC is found in the common law meaning of natural born SUBJECT, with citizen replacing subject as the country left the monarchy and became a republic.
Showing that a book of philosophy was part of Jefferson’s list of reading that included Latin, French, mathematics and science is hardly the same as showing a phrase not found in Vattel at the time of the Constitution is the key to understanding the Constitution’s original intent.
I’m in general agreement with your argument, but I’m curious how Vattel managed to write anything after the Constitution when he died on December 28, 1767.
It’s also relevant to remember that Jefferson was not present at the Constitutional Convention.
Vattle is the author of the very influenctial "The Law of Nations or Principles of the Law of Nature Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns He was Swiss, worked for a German prince, and wrote in French.
The issue here is the Natural Born Citizen term in the eligibility clause of Art. II of the Constitution. Since he wrote in French, he did not write "natural born citizen", but he did write:
Les Naturels ou indigènes font ceux qui font nés dans le pays de Parens Citoyens
Which the early (as in the very next year after he wrote the rather large work) translations converted that to:
The natives or indigenes are those born in the country of parents who are citizens
But the more recent version (1793 or perhaps 1797 and later) say:
The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens
Neither was John Jay, but he wrote the letter to G. Washington that seems to have resulted in the term being included in the Constitution's eligibility clause. His concern? The influence of foreigners in the national government, particularly in the command of the national Army.
True enough, but I fail to see how this gives us any insight on what the term “natural born citizen” means.
Obama is not a foreign military officer.
His idea of what being an American means or should mean is quite different from mine, but there are a great many Americans, unfortunately, who agree with him, not me.
Since neither Vattel or his translators used the term “natural born citizens” until after the Constitution was written, it seems highly unlikely he was the source of the terminology.
Is it possible the translators got the term from the Constitution rather than the other way around?
You're joking, right???
Vattel’s Law of Nations taught Kings College 1773, now Columbia University
Obama is a foreign military officer? What country and rank?
How does that question of yours relate to El Gato’s post????
“Im curious how Vattel managed to write anything after the Constitution when he died on December 28, 1767.”
The early English translations simply inserted, without translation, the French word Indigenes. A translation made after the Constitution was written replaced it with NBC.
From a post on another thread:
El Gato wrote to me earlier, arguing,
He used two words, Naturels and Indigenes. The Royal Dictionary from near the period in question, indicates that the two words may *both* be translated as naturals, but Naturels may also be translated as natives. The way they are used in both the original French and the way the translated terms are used, its clear they are being used as synonyms. Thus natives and naturals, but used to refer to the citoyn or citizen in the previous sentence. Thus natives or natural born citizens is not a bad translation. Its certainly better than the one which left indigenes untranslated. When it was finally translated in the 1793 edition, it was not translates as indignious but, as one would expect from the dictionary, as natural born. Our founders did not need the earlier translation. They could read the original French for themselves. Dr. Franklin was particularly adept in French, having found it useful with the French ladies, some of whom were quite well educated, when he was representing the rebels there.
Indigenous is defined as
1. originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country; native (often fol. by to): the plants indigenous to Canada; the indigenous peoples of southern Africa.
2. innate; inherent; natural (usually fol. by to): feelings indigenous to human beings.
Its derivation is...
164050; < L indigen(a) native, original inhabitant (indi-, by-form of in- in-2 (cf. indagate) + -gena, deriv. from base of gignere to bring into being; cf. genital, genitor) + -ous
Also: Synonyms 1. autochthonous, aboriginal, natural.
So I think a translation of the native, or indigenous person is vastly superior to the native, or natural born citizen - and certainly reject the idea that NBC is the definitive translation, for legal purposes, of a document that makes one reference to Indigenes.
Who, or "what" constituted a natural born citizen was well known to the framers. Jay would not have made such a suggestion to the others (Washington & the rest of those in attendance at the Constitutional Convention) unless there was a clear understanding of what that term meant. The definition comes from a source that not only were the framers familiar with, but the founders (many who were both) as well. And yes, even though most could not speak French, most read French (except, notably, Washington who would defer to Jefferson when such interpretation was needed).
NBC in the Constitutional drafts:
June 18th, 1787 - Alexander Hamilton suggests that the requirement be added, as: "No person shall be eligible to the office of President of the United States unless he be now a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States." Works of Alexander Hamilton (page 407).
July 25, 1787 (~5 weeks later) - John Jay writes a letter to General Washington (president of the Constitutional Convention): "Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen." [the word born is underlined in Jay's letter which signifies the importance of allegiance from birth.] http://rs6.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/hlaw:@field%28DOCID+@lit%28fr00379%29%29:
September 2nd, 1787 George Washington pens a letter to John Jay. The last line reads: "I thank you for the hints contained in your letter"
September 4th, 1787 (~6 weeks after Jay's letter and just 2 days after Washington wrote back to Jay) - The "Natural Born Citizen" requirement is now found in their drafts. Madison's notes of the Convention
The proposal passed unanimously without debate.
Original French version of Vattel's Law of Nations:
Emer de Vattel, Le droit des gens, ou Principes de la loi naturelle, vol. 1 (of 2) 
From Chapter XIX, 212 (page 248 of 592):
Title in French: "Des citoyens et naturels"
To English: "Citizens and natural"
French text (about citizens): "Les citoyens sont les membres de la societe civile : lies a cette societe par certains devoirs et soumis a son autorite, ils participent avec egalite a ses avantages."
To English: "The citizens are the members of the civil society: linked to this society by certain duties and subject to its authority, they participate with equality has its advantages."
French text (about "natural" born citizens): "Les naturels, ou indigenes, sont ceux qui sont nes dans le pays, de parens citoyens"
To English, gives this: "the natural, or indigenous, are those born in the country, parents who are citizens"
Prior to the Constitution
"This 1758 work by Swiss legal philosopher Emmerich de Vattel is of special importance to scholars of constitutional history and law, for it was read by many of the Founders of the United States of America, and informed their understanding of the principles of law which became established in the Constitution of 1787. Chitty's notes and the appended commentaries by Edward D. Ingraham, used in lectures at William and Mary College, provide a valuable perspective on Vattel's exposition from the viewpoint of American jurists who had adapted those principles to the American legal experience."
Vattel's Law of Nations, built upon "natural law - which has it's roots in ancient Greece, was influenced by Leibniz.
Even Blackstone affirmed the basis of natural law:
"This law of nature, being co-eval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times: no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original (1979, 41). In this passage, Blackstone articulates the two claims that constitute the theoretical core of conceptual naturalism: 1) there can be no legally valid standards that conflict with the natural law; and 2) all valid laws derive what force and authority they have from the natural law."
A detailed, historical, etymology of the term "Natural Born Citizen" can be found here: http://www.greschak.com/essays/natborn/index.htm
Thomas Jefferson (for one example) had the 1758 version as well as a 1775 version in his own library:
Thomas Jefferson's Library: A Catalog with the Entries in His Own Order (under a section he titled "Ethics. Law of Nature and Nations."
In AUTOBIOGRAPHY by Thomas Jefferson, he states: "On the 1st of June 1779. I was appointed Governor of the Commonwealth and retired from the legislature. Being elected also one of the Visitors of Wm. & Mary college, a self-electing body, I effected, during my residence in Williamsburg that year, a change in the organization of that institution by abolishing the Grammar school, and the two professorships of Divinity & Oriental languages, and substituting a professorship of Law & Police, one of Anatomy Medicine and Chemistry, and one of Modern languages; and the charter confining us to six professorships, we added the law of Nature & Nations..." This was 8 years prior the the writing of the Constitution! [See the "Law of Nature & Nations" section of his personal library to get an idea of what he included in this curriculum in America's 1st law school].
Note: Vattel, is one of only 10 "footnotes" in Jefferson's Biography, from Yale.
Prior to Jay's famous letter to those in attendance at the Constitutional Convention, we see (one of many exchanges between the founders) a letter from Madison ("father" of the Constitution) to Jay:
"James Madison, as a member of the Continental Congress in 1780, drafted the instructions sent to John Jay, for negotiating a treaty with Spain, which quotes at length from The Law of Nations. Jay complained that this letter, which was probably read by the Spanish government, was not in code, and "Vattel's Law of Nations, which I found quoted in a letter from Congress, is prohibited here."
From: Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness. How the Natural Law concept of G.W. Leibniz Inspired America's Founding Fathers.
After the Constitution
Founder and Historian David Ramsay Defines a Natural Born Citizen in 1789.
David Ramsay (April 2, 1749 to May 8, 1815) was an American physician, patriot, and historian from South Carolina and a delegate from that state to the Continental Congress in 1782-1783 and 1785-1786. He was the Acting President of the United States in Congress Assembled. He was one of the American Revolutions first major historians. A contemporary of Washington, Ramsay writes with the knowledge and insights one acquires only by being personally involved in the events of the Founding period.
Ramsay REAFFIRMS the definition a Natural Born Citizen (born in country, to citizen parents (plural)) in 1789 A Dissertation on the Manners of Acquiring the Character and Privileges of a Citizen (1789)
The Naturalization Act of 1790, which states (in relevant part) "that the children of citizens [plural] of the United States that might be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, should be considered as natural-born citizens"
Of course, the Act of 1790 was repealed by the Act of 1795 (which did NOT attempt to define or extend the definition for NBC). What the 1st Congress had tried to do in 1790 was to EXTEND the known definition (of born in country to citizen parentS) to those born outside of sovereign territory, to citizen parentS. Of course, they can't do that. Congress (by itself) doesn't have the Constitutional authority to define (or EXTEND) the Constitutional term "Natural Born Citizen." Only a SCOTUS decision on the intent of the framers, or an amendment to the Constitution can do that.
The same definition was referenced in the dicta of many early SCOTUS cases as well...some examples:
"THE VENUS, 12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 253, 289 (1814) (Marshall, C.J. concurring) (cites Vattels definition of Natural Born Citizen)
SHANKS V. DUPONT, 28 U.S. 242, 245 (1830) (same definition without citing Vattel)
MINOR V. HAPPERSETT, 88 U.S.162,167-168 ( 1875) (same definition without citing Vattel)
EX PARTE REYNOLDS, 1879, 5 Dill., 394, 402 (same definition and cites Vattel)
UNITED STATES V WARD, 42 F.320 (C.C.S.D. Cal. 1890) (same definition and cites Vattel.)"
The New Englander, Volume 3 (1845) states: "The expression citizen of the United States occurs in the clauses prescribing qualifications for Representatives, for Senators, and for President. In the latter, the term natural born citizen is used and excludes all persons owing allegiance by birth to foreign states."
Note: the "New Englander" was NOT a student law review. The first student law review appeared 30 years later, in 1875/76 at the Albany Law School..
John Bingham, "father" of the 14th Amendment, the abolitionist congressman from Ohio who prosecuted Lincoln's assassins, REAFFIRMED the definition known to the framers by saying this:
commenting on Section 1992 said it means every human being born within the jurisdiction of the United States of parents not owing allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is, in the language of your Constitution itself, a natural born citizen. (Cong. Globe, 39th, 1st Sess., 1291 (1866))"
It's interesting to note that (non binding) Senate Resolution 511, which attempted to proclaim that Sen. John McCain was a "Natural Born Citizen" because he was born to citizen parentS, even they referenced the (repealed) Naturalization Act of 1790: "Whereas such limitations would be inconsistent with the purpose and intent of the `natural born Citizen' clause of the Constitution of the United States, as evidenced by the First Congress's own statute defining the term `natural born Citizen'".
Obama, himself, was a signatory of that resolution knowing full well (no doubt) the requirement has always been about 2 citizen parents.
The point is, with the exception of the repealed Act of 1790 which tried to EXTEND the definition, the meaning of the term "Natural Born Citizen" has ALWAYS been about being born within the sovereign territory or jurisdiction of the U.S. to 2 citizen parents (& therefore parents who do NOT owe allegiance to another, foreign, country).
The French there translates to:
“The natural subjects of the power which will appoint”
Natural subjects of the power, translated in light of common law, would be “natural born subjects”.
You will note in the later Vattel translation, it is NOT Naturels that is translated NBC, but Indigenes.
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