Skip to comments.Founder and Historian David Ramsay Defines a Natural Born Citizen in 1789
Posted on 04/02/2010 2:13:33 PM PDT by rxsid
"Friday, April 2, 2010
Founder and Historian David Ramsay Defines a Natural Born Citizen in 1789
In defining an Article II natural born Citizen, it is important to find any authority from the Founding period who may inform us how the Founders and Framers themselves defined the clause. Who else but a highly respected historian from the Founding period itself would be highly persuasive in telling us how the Founders and Framers defined a natural born Citizen. Such an important person is David Ramsay, who in 1789 wrote, A Dissertation on the Manners of Acquiring the Character and Privileges of a Citizen (1789), a very important and influential essay on defining a natural born Citizen.
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. In 1785 he published History of the Revolution of South Carolina (two volumes), in 1789 History of the American Revolution (two volumes), in 1807 a Life of Washington, and in 1809 a History of South Carolina (two volumes). Ramsay was a major intellectual figure in the early republic, known and respected in America and abroad for his medical and historical writings, especially for The History of the American Revolution (1789) Arthur H. Shaffer, Between Two Worlds: David Ramsay and the Politics of Slavery, J.S.Hist., Vol. L, No. 2 (May 1984). During the progress of the Revolution, Doctor Ramsay collected materials for its history, and his great impartiality, his fine memory, and his acquaintance with many of the actors in the contest, eminently qualified him for the task . http://www.famousamericans.net/davidramsay/. In 1965 Professor Page Smith of the University of California at Los Angeles published an extensive study of Ramsay's History of the American Revolution in which he stressed the advantage that Ramsay had because of being involved in the events of which he wrote and the wisdom he exercised in taking advantage of this opportunity. The generosity of mind and spirit which marks his pages, his critical sense, his balanced judgment and compassion,'' Professor Smith concluded, are gifts that were uniquely his own and that clearly entitle him to an honorable position in the front rank of American historians.
In his 1789 article, Ramsay first explained who the original citizens were and then defined the natural born citizens as the children born in the country to citizen parents. He said concerning the children born after the declaration of independence, [c]itizenship is the inheritance of the children of those who have taken part in the late revolution; but this is confined exclusively to the children of those who were themselves citizens . Id. at 6. He added that citizenship by inheritance belongs to none but the children of those Americans, who, having survived the declaration of independence, acquired that adventitious character in their own right, and transmitted it to their offspring . Id. at 7. He continued that citizenship as a natural right, belongs to none but those who have been born of citizens since the 4th of July, 1776 . Id. at 6.
Here we have direct and convincing evidence of how a very influential Founder defined a natural born citizen. Given his position of influence and especially given that he was a highly respected historian, Ramsay would have had the contacts with other influential Founders and Framers and would have known how they too defined natural born Citizen. Ramsay, being of the Founding generation and being intimately involved in the events of the time would have know how the Founders and Framers defined a natural born Citizen and he told us that definition was one where the child was born in the country of citizen parents. He giving us this definition, it is clear that Ramsay did not follow the English common law but rather natural law, the law of nations, and Emer de Vattel, who also defined a natural-born citizen the same as did Ramsay in his highly acclaimed and influential, The Law of Nations, Or, Principles of the Law of Nature, Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns, Section 212 (1758 French) (1759 English). We can reasonably assume that the other Founders and Framers would have defined a natural born Citizen the same way the Ramsay did, for being a meticulous historian he would have gotten his definition from the general consensus that existed at the time.
Ramsays article and explication are further evidence of the influence that Vattel had on the Founders in how they defined the new national citizenship. This article by Ramsay is one of the most important pieces of evidence recently found (provided to us by an anonymous source) which provides direct evidence on how the Founders and Framers defined a natural born Citizen and that there is little doubt that they defined one as a child born in the country to citizen parents. Given this time-honored definition, which has been confirmed by subsequent United States Supreme Court and some lower court cases such as The Venus, 12 U.S. (8 Cranch) 253, 289 (1814) (Marshall, C.J., concurring and dissenting for other reasons, cites Vattel and provides his definition of natural born citizens); Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) (Justice Daniels concurring took out of Vattels definition the reference to fathers and father and replaced it with parents and person, respectively); Shanks v. Dupont, 28 U.S. 242, 245 (1830) (same definition without citing Vattel); Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36, 21 L.Ed. 394, 16 Wall. 36 (1872) (in explaining the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment clause, subject to the jurisdiction thereof, said that the clause was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States; Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884) (the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations are not citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment because they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States); Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 167-68 (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); U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) (quoted from the same definition of natural born Citizen as did Minor v. Happersett); Rep. John Bingham (in the House on March 9, 1866, in commenting on the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which was the precursor to the Fourteenth Amendment: "[I] find no fault with the introductory clause, which is simply declaratory of what is written in the Constitution, that 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. . . . John A. Bingham, (R-Ohio) US Congressman, March 9, 1866 Cong. Globe, 39th, 1st Sess., 1291 (1866), Sec. 1992 of U.S. Revised Statutes (1866)).
I wish Obama wasn't President and I'm ready to rank him as the worst President in history, but the idea that he could be removed from office because some legal experts show that he doesn't meet the 1787 meaning of "natural born citizen" is beyond the realm of possibility. The public thinks he's a natural born citizen by virtue of being born in Hawaii (whether or not that's really where he was born), and he definitely got a majority of the electoral votes in 2008. He'd have to do something much worse than the Watergate coverup to be impeached and removed. Michael Steele is bent on ensuring the Democrats keep control of Congress so he won't have to worry about a Republican majority next year. We are stuck with him.
So, how many of you stalwart Constitutional scholars knowingly voted for an ineligible candidate (John McCain) in 2008?
Yeah, scared to death of a “losing, issue”, go figure.
Do you know of a pdf of this resolution? It has been removed from the Leahy website, thanks.
Usurpation bump to the top!
Ramsays arguments were rejected by the first Congress. The opposition debate was lead by James Madison, who said in response to Ramsay, “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.”
Oops. That should pretty well settle that. Those who actually wrote the Constitution rejected the notion that citizen parents were required to be a natural born citizen.
In fact one of the first laws passed by Congress said... “And the children of such persons so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty-one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as CITIZENS of the United States.” and then goes on... “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: Provided, That the right of citizenship SHALL NOT descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States:”
"Oops. That should pretty well settle that. Those who actually wrote the Constitution rejected the notion that citizen parents were required to be a natural born citizen."
Complete Obot disinformation.
The case was about the eligibility of William Loughton Smith to hold his newly won seat (1788) in congress. David Ramsay, his opponent, contended that Smith did not meet the seven years a citizen requirement for congressmen as written in the Constitution.
In a nutshell:
Smith (b. 1758) was sent to England by his father Benjamin in 1770 at the age of 12 years. Later that same year, his father died, a British subject, six years prior to the Declaration of Independence. Smith's mother died in 1760. William Smith did not return to America until 1783, after the bloody fight for our freedom was finished.
Ramsay basically asserted correctly that Smith's father Benjamin could not have passed U.S. Citizenship to his son as he died six years prior to the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
I believe Mr. Jackson in reply to Mr. Madison's argument, said it best:
The case was decided by vote in committee in favor of Smith, with the objections of Mr. Jackson as noted above. Political considerations seem to have trumped reason in this case, as there is no possible way that Smith could have been considered a U.S. Citizen prior to the year 1783, when he arrived in the newly created United States as a young man in his twenties.
Thanks for such a delightful kick of the ass.
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