When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
What was the real common law definition of “US citizen” as understood, written & adopted by the people at the time of the ratification of the Constitution? Was it that of the feudal common law of England that the founders had fought a bloody war to break free from?
When a society finds itself in a state of nature, as the colonist did when declaring their independence from England, all prior laws of the King cease to exist. That is, in the sense that the King has no further right to hold those feudal laws against the new society. It is now for the consenting members of the new society to determine which, if any, of the laws are to remain in effect for themselves to enforce locally as well as who shall be deemed citizens of the new society.
What, was kept in place pertaining to the common law of England was the form of jurisprudence and a few concepts of the law that pertained to the safety & protection of the people. However, to think that the framers adopted for the new society the same citizenship laws defined by the feudal system of government in England is just plain ludicrous. The War of 1812 was a testament to that and is further corroborated by the works of the early justices as well as the framers. Another very definitive testament we have to look at regarding this is the census records from 1790-1880, as well as congressional testimony pertaining to those records wherein children born of aliens (foreigners) not yet naturalized or of aliens(foreigners) temporarily sojourning in the US were classified as aliens (foreigners) themselves.
The children born to parents that were later naturalized became themselves naturalized.In this case, children classified as natives were deferred to the 3rd generation of the family. Children born after the naturalization of the parents were however classified as natives (2nd generation). [page 666 Statement of Mr. Louis Schade & page 705 Statement of Mr. John P. Eberhart]
I have already debunked the so-called conspiracy debunkers & have discussed who the original natives were here, but I must remind you that the term was used interchangeably with ‘natural born’ and understandably so. When reading the works of Vattel and understanding that many of the original natives/founders were also learned in the early history of America, it takes no great leap to understand why. It is simply because of the fact that our country was, at its infancy in the 1600’s, NOT under British rule.
Therefore, it is corrrect to say that all persons born or naturalized in the country at the time of independence are natives, however not all natives became US citizens.
From this point of the birth of a new nation, the laws of nature take hold as to who the citizens are, but especially who the ‘natural born’ citizens are.
§ 212. Citizens and natives.
The citizens are the members of the civil society; bound to this society by certain duties, and subject to its authority, they equally participate in its advantages. The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens. As the society cannot exist and perpetuate itself otherwise than by the children of the citizens, those children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The society is supposed to desire this, in consequence of what it owes to its own preservation; and it is presumed, as matter of course, that each citizen, on entering into society, reserves to his children the right of becoming members of it. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children; and these become true citizens merely by their tacit consent. We shall soon see whether, on their coming to the years of discretion, they may renounce their right, and what they owe to the society in which they were born. I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.
§ 213. Inhabitants.
The inhabitants, as distinguished from citizens, are foreigners, who are permitted to settle and stay in the country. Bound to the society by their residence, they are subject to the laws of the state while they reside in it; and they are obliged to defend it, because it grants them protection, though they do not participate in all the rights of citizens. They enjoy only the advantages which the law or custom gives them. The perpetual inhabitants are those who have received the right of perpetual residence. These are a kind of citizens of an inferior order, and are united to the society without participating in all its advantages. Their children follow the condition of their fathers; and, as the state has given to these the right of perpetual residence, their right passes to their posterity.
§ 214. Naturalization.(58)
A nation, or the sovereign who represents it, may grant to a foreigner the quality of citizen, by admitting him into the body of the political society. This is called naturalization. There are some states in which the sovereign cannot grant to a foreigner all the rights of citizens, — for example, that of holding public offices — and where, consequently, he has the power of granting only an imperfect naturalization. It is here a regulation of the fundamental law, which limits the power of the prince. In other states, as in England and Poland, the prince cannot naturalize a single person, without the concurrence of the nation, represented by its deputies. Finally, there are states, as, for instance, England, where the single circumstance of being born in the country naturalizes the children of a foreigner.
§ 216. Children born at sea.
As to children born at sea, if they are born in those parts of it that are possessed by their nation, they are born in the country: if it is on the open sea, there is no reason to make a distinction between them and those who are born in the country; for, naturally, it is our extraction, not the place of our birth, that gives us rights: and if the children are born in a vessel belonging to the nation, they may be reputed born in its territories; for, it is natural to consider the vessels of a nation as parts of its territory, especially when they sail upon a free sea, since the state retains its jurisdiction over those vessels. And as, according to the commonly received custom, this jurisdiction is preserved over the vessels, even in parts of the sea subject to a foreign dominion, all the children born in the vessels of a nation are considered as born in its territory. For the same reason, those born in a foreign vessel are reputed born in a foreign country, unless their birth took place in a port belonging to their own nation; for, the port is more particularly a part of the territory; and the mother, though at that moment on board a foreign vessel, is not on that account out of the country. I suppose that she and her husband have not quitted their native country to settle elsewhere.
The Constitution tells us that none but a ‘natural born citizen’, or a citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution are qualified to be president. This is where things go awry with that term native that is quoted in Vattel. Though natives are born on the soil, not all natives were citizens of the soil as shown in the previous debunking article.
The conspiracy debunkers continue to argue that the feudal definition of ‘natural born subject’ is that of the ‘natural born citizen’. As I have shown, they argue that the term ‘native’ = ‘natural born’ regardless of the context in which it is being used when referring to persons holding dual allegiances. If foreign influences were not of consequence, then there would have been no need for the grandfather clause, ‘or a citizens at the time of the adoption of this Constitution’.
Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story clarifies for us in his Commentary, The Conflict of Laws, the law adopted by the US. It was not the feudal law of England but was the law of nature wherein the children follow the condition of the father:
First, the place of birth of a person is considered as his domicil, if it is at the time of his birth the domicil of his parents. Patris originem unusquisque sequatur*. This is usually denominated the domicil of birth or nativity, domicilium originis. But, if the parents are then on a visit, or on a journey, (in itinere), the home of the parents (at least if it is in the same country) will be deemed the domicil of birth or nativity.
Secondly, the domicil of birth of minors continues, until they have obtained a new domicil. Thirdly, minors are generally deemed incapable, proprio marte, of changing their domicil during their minority; and, therefore, they retain the domicil of their parents; and if the parents change their domicil. that of the infant children follows it; and if the father dies, his last domicil is that of the infant children.
Dig. Lib. 50, tit 1,1. 27, §2; Pothier Pand. Lib. 50, tit. 1, n. 18; Somerville v. Somerville, 5 Vesey, 750, 786, 790; 2 Domat, Public Law, B. 1, tit 16, § 3, p. 462; Id. art 6; Post, $ 47.
a Cod. Lib. 10, tit 31,1. 36; 2 Domat, Public Law, B. I, tit. 16, § 3, art. 10; 1 Boullenois, Observ. 4, p. 53; Voet, ad Pand. Lib. 5, tit 1, n. 91, 92, 100. See Scrimshire r. Scrimshire, 2 Hagg. Eccl. R. 405, 406; Cochin, (Euvres, Tom. 5, p. 5, 6; Id. 698, 4to. edit.
3 Dr. Laeber’s Encyc. Amer. art Domicil; Pothier, Cout d’Orleans, ch. 1, art 10.12; Somerville e. Somerville, 5 Vesey, 750, 787; 1 Boullenois, Observ. 4, p. 53.
4 Dig. Lib. 50, tit 1,1.9; Pothier, Pand. Lib. 50, tit 1, n. 3.
(for definitions of domicil refer to page 1052 of the commentary)
* Fifthly; Children born upon the sea are deemed to belong, and to have their domicil in the country, to which their parents belong.6
^ 49. From these considerations and rules the general conclusion may be deduced, that domicil is of three sorts; domicil by birth, domicil by choice, and domicil by operation of law.
i Vattel.Lib. l,ch. 19, § 213.
a The Venua, 8 Cranch, 278, 281; The Frances, 8 Cranch, 335; The Indian Chief, 3 Rob. 12; Bempde t>. Johnstone, 3 Ves. 198, 202; The Friendschaft, 3 Wheaton, R. 14; Ommany .••. Bingham, cited 5 Ves. jr. 756, 757, 765.
« Vattel, B. 1, ch. 19, § 217; The Indian Chief, 3 Rob. 13, 27; The Josephine, 4 Rob. 26.
s Vattel, B. 1, ch. 19, § 216; Dr. Leibert Encyc. Araer. art Domicil.
So, did the framers adopt a form of dual citizenship at our founding? Absolutely not. Even the Brits did not recognize dual citizenship under their feudal definition.
Blackstone Commentaries (1765): that every man owes natural allegiance where he is born, and cannot owe two such allegiances, or serve two masters, at once…
England had cast off the law of natures definition of ‘freeman/citizen’ and adopted the definition of ‘subject’ that was based on feudal law. The monarchy took it even further by declaring that any child born to a British subject, regardless of being born within the borders of a British sovereignty was taken to be a ‘natural born subject’ and those born within the borders of a British Sovereignty of foreigners, even those temporarily sojourning, were deemed ‘natural born subjects’. After many wars & plunging treasury, they were in need of fresh bodies for their military as well as new subjects they could tax to reestablish their shrinking treasury.
Blackstone cont: …To encourage also foreign commerce, it was enacted by statute 25 Edw. III. st. 2. that all children born abroad, provided both their parents were at the time of the birth in allegiance to the king, and the mother had passed the seas by her husband’s consent, might inherit as if born in England: and accordingly it hath been so adjudged in behalf of merchants. But by several more modern statutes these restrictions are still farther taken off: so that all children, born out of the king’s ligeance, whose fathers were natural-born subjects, are now natural-born subjects themselves, to all intents and purposes, without any exception;…]
You can see that this is in complete contradiction to that of the commentary by Justice Story, thus verifying that ours is not that of the feudal government.
Why was this? It was for our national security & the preservation of the new nation as discussed by Vattel.
As the framers discussed and adopted the qualifications for the several branches of our government, they continually decreased the numbers of those eligible to attain to those elected positions. The fewer the number of representatives in the branch, the stronger check on qualifications as is easily seen in Article 1 of the Constitution regarding qualifications for the House of Reps & the Senate. These are discussed in Federalist Papers # 52 & 62 respectively, however Papers #52-66 give the complete discussion as to the perils of foreign influences into these branches of our government.
The truth is, many of the framers wanted the entirety of our elected officials to be ‘natural born’ with the exception of the founders grandfathered in and some even went further as to try and include these qualifications for the Supreme Court Justices.
Yes, foreign influences were very much on their minds and in light of the actions of today’s administration, they were wholly justified.
Now, were the legislatures & people of the individual states of the same mindset? The conspiracy debunkers say, ‘heck no’. Native born on the soil regardless of parentage, thus born owing allegiance to a foreign nation at birth is of no consequence.
Here is what they repeatedly regurgitate:
“No man but a native, or who has resided fourteen years in America, can be chosen President.” Elliot’s Debates –DEBATES IN THE CONVENTION OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, ON THE ADOPTION OF THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION, pg 195-196 (statements of future Supreme Court Justice James Iredell, July 30, 1788).
Yes, it is a nicely parsed & edited quote showing only the part they want you to see. They cite a reference but give you no direct link knowing most will take it at face value and will never search out the entire historical reference to read it in its original form.
Congressman Iredell during his numerous remarks, over the course of several days of debate on the several articles of the Constitution, expounded on the fatalities of foreign influences:
…but if it be ever necessary on any occasion, it is necessary on this, when the question perhaps involves the safety or ruin of our country… The office of superintending the execution of the laws of the Union is an office of the utmost importance. It is of the greatest consequence to the happiness of the people of America, that the person to whom this great trust is delegated should be worthy of it. It would require a man of abilities and experience; it would also require a man who possessed, in a high degree, the confidence of his country. This being the case, it would be a great defect, in forming a constitution for the United States, if it Was so constructed that, by any accident, an improper person could have a chance to obtain that office… In almost every country, the executive has the command of the military forces. From the nature of the thing, the command of armies ought to be delegated to one person only. The secrecy, despatch, and decision, which are necessary in military operations, can only be expected from one person. The President, therefore, is to command the military forces of the United States, and this power I think a proper one; at the same time it will be found to be sufficiently guarded…
Now here is the entire unparsed quote relating to the presidential qualifications.
Jealousy in a free government ought to be respected; but it may be carried to too great an extent. It is impracticable to guard against all possible danger of people’s choosing their officers indiscreetly. If they have a right to choose, they may make a bad choice.
I met, by accident, with a pamphlet, this morning, in which the author states, as a very serious danger, that the pope of Rome might be elected President. I confess this never struck me before; and if the author had read all the qualifications of a President, perhaps his fears might have been quieted.
No man but a native, or who has resided fourteen years in America, can be chosen President. I know not all the qualifications for pope, but I believe he must be taken from the college of cardinals; and probably there are many previous steps necessary before he arrives at this dignity. A native of America must have very singular good fortune,
who, after residing fourteen years in his own country, should go to Europe, enter into Romish orders, obtain the promotion of cardinal, afterwards that of pope, and at length be so much in the confidence of his own country as to be elected President. It would be still more extraordinary if he should give up his popedom for our presidency. Sir, it is impossible to treat such idle fears with any degree of gravity. Why is it not objected, that there is no provision in the Constitution against electing one of the kings of Europe President? It would be a clause equally rational and judicious.
I hope that I have in some degree satisfied the doubts of the gentleman. This article is calculated to secure universal religious liberty, by putting all sects on a level — the only way to prevent persecution. I thought nobody would have objected to this clause, which deserves, in my opinion, the highest approbation. This country has already had the honor of setting an example of civil freedom, and I trust it will likewise have the honor of teaching the rest of the world the way to religious freedom also. God grant both may be perpetuated to the end of time!
Here we can clearly see that some of the people were concerned by a possible feudal definition of ‘native’ in the new Constitution and were calling out its perils by passing pamphlets. However, the legislature of the state of North Carolina understood the laws of nature wherein a man could not owe allegiance to 2 nations at the same time and thus citizenship was defined in that of a singular allegiance. They completely understood the roots of its meaning as it pertained to the new Constitution and that the person attaining to the office of President must have had, at birth, a complete and undivided allegiance to the United States of America.
Next I give you another parsing (purposefully edited version) from the conspiracy debunkers.
” It is not too much to say, that no one, but a native citizen, ought ordinarily to be intrusted with an office so vital [the presidency] to the safety and liberties of the people. But an exception was, from a deep sense of gratitude, made in favor of those distinguished men, who, though not natives, had, with such exalted patriotism, and such personal sacrifices, united their lives and fortunes with ours during the Revolution….” Joseph Story, A Familiar Exposition of the Constitution of the United States, pg. 167 (1842 ed.)
Here is Story’s complete summary regarding the qualifications of the president and vice president.
§ 269. The next clause respects the qualifications of the President; and the qualifications of the Vice President are (as we have seen) to be the same. ” 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. Neither shall any person be eligible to the office, who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.”
§ 270. Considering the nature of the duties, the extent of the information, and the solid wisdom and experience, required in the Executive department, no one can reasonably doubt the propriety of some qualification of age of the President. That, which is selected, is the middle age of life, by which period, the character and talents of individuals are generally known, and fairly developed ; the passions of youth have become moderated ; and the faculties are fast advancing to their highest state of maturity. An earlier period could scarcely have afforded sufficient pledges of talents, wisdom, and virtue, adequate to the dignity and importance of the office.
§ 271. The other qualifications respect citizenship and inhabitancy. 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. But an exception was, from a deep sense of gratitude, made in favor of those distinguished men, who, though not natives, had, with such exalted patriotism, and such personal sacrifices, united their lives and fortunes with ours during the Revolution. But even a native citizen might, from long absence, and voluntary residence abroad, become alienated from, or indifferent to his country ; and, therefore, a residence for fourteen years within the United States is made indispensable, as a qualification to the office. This, of course, does not exclude persons, who are temporarily abroad in the public service, or on their private affairs, and who have not intentionally given up their domicile here. •
So did Story differentiate between the natives from the natural born? The answer is ‘no’ he did not as the natives were born of the soil & at the time of their birth they held but one allegiance. The founding fathers who were born on the soil, as well as their anscetors, had considered themselves ‘freemen’. They were been born in a sovereign nation that held no duty to nor did the colonists partake in any part of the British parliament or government. The laws of England were not the original laws of the land. It was England’s refusal to see them as ‘freemen’ and subsequent actions of the Brits, coming over & taking by force the local governments, removing the American laws & replacing them with that of the Monarchy thus oppressing the ‘freemen/citizens’ of the states. The Monarchy kept a standing army on American soil to arrest & unjustly prosecuted the colonists on foreign land. They also laid heavy taxes on them without allowance for representation in the British government, therefore for all intent purposes, the Monarchy held the British Americans as slaves. This is what forced the founding fathers into such a radical revolution & complete dissolution of their ties to England.
Finally we consider this from Q&A from the Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, Volume 21, Pages 250-251; notes from Thomas Jefferson, December 1783.
“Qu. 1. Can an American citizen, adult, now inherit lands in England?”
to which Thomas Jefferson begins his answer with
“Natural subjects can inherit–Aliens cannot.
There is no middle character–every man must be the one or the other of these.”
(dual nationality did not exist. Citizenship was singular.)
Thomas Jefferson also wrote this in his answer:
“An alien is the subject or citizen of a foreign power. The treaty of peace acknowledges we are no longer to owe allegiance to the king of G.B. It acknowledges us no longer as Natural subjects then. It makes us citizens of independent states; it makes us aliens then.”
We now can unequivocally conclude that there were no laws adopted at our founding that allowed for dual citizenship and that the term ‘native’ does have many meanings. And as stated before, natives can be citizens of a society, however all not all ‘natives’ are ‘ipso facto’ citizens of that society.
Ours is a society of citizenship by consent (republicanism), not citizenship by rule of man (feudalism).
To understand better the ‘law of nature’ & how it pertains to the eventual revolution of 1776, I recommend you read & study the links included in the article as well as the following link where you can read all the founding documents of the ‘freemen’ (British American citizens) beginning with the Magna Carta (1215), the Mayflower Compact (1620) as well as the original Constitution of the Colonies (1639). Yes, America was at one time a free sovereign & separate nation from that of England under her own laws put in place by the consenting freemen/citizens of the original American society.
The American Constitution – A Documentary Record
In conclusion, I again leave you with a snippet of President Washington’s farewell address warning.
Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government...
Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests…
In Part II we will move forwards and into the 19th Century. We will navigate through several treatise as well as the archives of Congress from the 1820’s through the late 1800’s.
Linda A Melin