The grandfather clause in Article 2, Section 1 has nothing at all to do with the citizenship of the delegates’ parents. It has everything to do with the fact that when the delegates were born there was no United States - it didn’t come into existance in any form until 1776. Further it would not come into final form until after the Constitution was adopted. So, the grandfather clause was necesarry because virtually no citizen’s alive at the adoption of the Constitution would have been considered natural born without it. This whole attempt to redefine natural born citizenship to require that a child’s parents were both U.S. citizens is just silliness.
Vattel in Bk 1 Sec 212, states the following.
§ 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.
"If Obama is eligible to be President then so are the sons of Osama Bin Laden, Kim Jong Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if they impregnate an American woman who gives birth on US soil. The very notion is obscene. Such a person might be a US citizen under current policy, but their citizenship is not natural born and they cannot be President and Commander In Chief of the US armed forces."-----Leo Donofrio.
Is there any question why the founders put the Natural Born Citizen requirement clause in the Constitution?
What might the phrase natural-born citizen of the United States imply under the U.S. Constitution? The phrase has always been obscure due to the lack of any single authoritative source to confer in order to understand the condition of citizenship the phrase recognizes. Learning what the phrase might have meant following the Declaration of Independence, and the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, requires detective work. As with all detective work, eliminating the usual suspects from the beginning goes a long way in quickly solving a case.
What Natural-Born Citizen Could Not Mean
Could a natural-born citizen simply mean citizenship due to place of birth?
Unlikely in the strict sense because we know one can be native born and yet not a native born citizen of this country. There were even disputes whether anyone born within the District of Columbia or in the territories were born citizens of the United States (they were generally referred to as inhabitants instead.) National Government could make no territorial allegiance demands within the several States because as Madison explained it, the powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.
Jurisdiction over citizenship via birth within the several States was part of the ordinary course of affairs of the States that only local laws could affect. Early acts of Naturalization recognized the individual State Legislatures as the only authority who could make anyone a citizen of a State. Framer James Wilson said, a citizen of the United States is he, who is a citizen of at least some one state in the Union. These citizens of each State were united together through Article IV, Sec. II of the U.S. Constitution, and thus, no act of Congress was required to make citizens of the individual States citizens of the United States.
Prior to the Revolutionary War place of birth within the dominions of the crown was the principle criterion for establishing perpetual allegiance and citizenship. After independence each State was free to establish their own maxims on the subject. James Madisons own State of Virginia adopted a birthright law authored by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 that recognized parentage (citizenship of father) in determining citizenship of the child:
[A]ll infants, wheresoever born, whose father, if living, or otherwise, whose mother was a citizen at the time of their birth, or who migrate hither, their father, if living, or otherwise, their mother becoming a citizen, or who migrate hither without father or mother, shall be deemed citizens of this Commonwealth until they relinquish that character, in manner as hereinafter expressed; and all others not being citizens of any, of the United States of America, shall be deemed aliens.
Some States made citizenship conditional on either parent in terms of their citizenship, such as Kentucky: [E]very child, wherever born, whose father or mother was or shall be a citizen of Kentucky at the birth of such child, shall be deemed citizens of that State. One common law found in a number of States that defined those born as citizens read, All persons born in this state, and resident within it, except the children of transient aliens, and of alien public ministers and consuls, etc.
The State of Connecticut adopted a law that read, All persons born in this State except aliens, paupers, and fugitives from justice or service, are and shall be deemed to be citizens of this State, owing it allegiance and entitled to receive its protection, until they shall have voluntarily withdrawn from its limits and become incorporated into some other State or sovereignty as members thereof. States that were slow in enacting laws over acquiring citizenship through birth forced courts to adjudicate citizenship disputes under common law rules.
Could a natural-born citizen perhaps be synonymous with the British term natural-born subject?
It is very doubtful the framers adopted the doctrine found under the old English doctrine of natural-born subject. The British doctrine allowed for double allegiances, something the founders considered improper and dangerous. The American naturalization process required all males to twice renounce all allegiances with other governments and pledge their allegiance to this one before finally becoming a citizen.
Framer Rufus King said allegiance to the United States depended on whether a person is a member of the body politic. King says no nation should adopt or naturalize a person of another society without the consent of that person. The reason? Because he ought not silently to be embarrassed with a double allegiance. House Report No. 784, dated June 22, 1874, stated, The United States have not recognized a double allegiance. By our law a citizen is bound to be true and faithful alone to our government.
Under the old English common law doctrine of natural-born subject, birth itself was an act of naturalization that required no prior consent or demanded allegiance to the nation in advance. Furthermore, birth was viewed as enjoining a perpetual allegiance upon all that could never be severed or altered by any change of time or act of anyone. Englands perpetual allegiance due from birth was extremely unpopular in this country; often referred to as absurd barbarism, or simply perpetual nonsense. America went to war with England over the doctrine behind natural-born subject in June of 1812.
Because Britain considered all who were born within the dominions of the crown to be its natural-born subjects even after becoming naturalized citizens of the United States, led to British vessels blockading American ports. Under the British blockade, every American ship entering or leaving was boarded by soldiers in search of British born subjects. At least 6,000 American citizens who were found to be British natural-born subjects were pressed into military service on behalf of the British Empire, and thus, the reason we went to war.
Whatever might had been the correct understanding of natural-born citizen prior to 1866, the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment certainly changes the view because for the first time we have a written national rule declaring who are citizens through birth or naturalization. Who may be born citizens is conditional upon being born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States - a condition not required under the common law. The legislative definition of subject to the jurisdiction thereof was defined as Not owing allegiance to anybody else.
This national rule prevents us from interpreting natural-born citizen under common law rules because it eliminates the possibility of a child being born with more than one allegiance.
The primary author of the citizenship clause, Sen. Jacob M. Howard, said the word jurisdiction, as here employed, ought to be construed so as to imply a full and complete jurisdiction on the part of the United States, coextensive in all respects with the constitutional power of the United States, whether exercised by Congress, by the executive, or by the judicial department; that is to say, the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applies to every citizen of the United States now.
United States Attorney General, George Williams, whom was a U.S. Senator aligned with Radical Republicans during the drafting of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866, ruled in 1873 the word jurisdiction under the Fourteenth Amendment must be understood to mean absolute and complete jurisdiction, such as the United States had over its citizens before the adoption of this amendment. He added, Political and military rights and duties do not pertain to anyone else.
Essentially then, subject to the jurisdiction thereof means the same jurisdiction the United States exercises over its own citizens, i.e., only citizens of the United States come within its operation since citizens of the United States do not owe allegiance to some other nation at the same time they do the United States. This makes a great deal of sense for the time because there was a great deal of controversy over conflicts arising from double allegiances.
Just as a person cannot be naturalized and subject to the jurisdiction of the United States while owing allegiance to another nation - neither can anyone born. Why would subject to the jurisdiction thereof be any different with persons born since this jurisdiction equally applies to persons born or naturalized? If allegiance simply meant location on American soil, then what was the purpose of having aliens renounce their allegiance to other countries and pledge their allegiance to this one for purposes of becoming naturalized? Perhaps because locality itself was never enough to confer allegiance and citizenship?
It is worth noting that wives and children were never naturalized separately but became naturalized through the father/husband. Because subject to the jurisdiction thereof requires not owing allegiance to any other nation, and because the nation does not recognize double allegiances that can be created at common law, narrows the possibilities to what natural-born citizen can mean.
Natural-Born Citizen Defined
One universal point most all early publicists agreed on was natural-born citizen must mean one who is a citizen by no act of law. If a person owes their citizenship to some act of law (naturalization for example), they cannot be considered a natural-born citizen. This leads us to defining natural-born citizen under the laws of nature - laws the founders recognized and embraced.
Under the laws of nature, every child born requires no act of law to establish the fact the child inherits through nature his/her fathers citizenship as well as his name (or even his property) through birth. This law of nature is also recognized by law of nations. Sen. Howard said the citizenship clause under the Fourteenth Amendment was by virtue of natural law and national law.
The advantages of Natural Law is competing allegiances between nations are avoided, or at least with those nations whose custom is to not make citizens of other countries citizens without their consent. Any alternations or conflicts due to a childs natural citizenship are strictly a creature of local municipal law. In the year 1866, the United States for the first time adopted a local municipal law under Sec. 1992 of U.S. Revised Statutes that read: All persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are declared to be citizens of the United States.
Rep. John A. Bingham 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))
Bingham subscribed to the same view as most everyone in Congress at the time that in order to be born a citizen of the United States one must be born within the allegiance of the Nation. Bingham had explained years earlier that to be born within the allegiance of the United States the parents, or more precisely, the father, must not owe allegiance to some other foreign sovereignty (remember the U.S. abandoned Englands natural allegiance doctrine). This of course, explains why emphasis of not owing allegiance to anyone else was the affect of being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
It should be noted this allegiance due under Englands common law and American law are of two different species. Under the common law one owed a personal allegiance to the King as an individual upon birth. Under the American system there was no individual ruler to owe a personal allegiance to.
The constitutional requirement for the President of the United States to be a natural-born citizen had one purpose according to St. George Tucker:
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, which, wherever it is capable of being exerted, is to he dreaded more than the plague. The admission of foreigners into our councils, consequently, cannot be too much guarded against; their total exclusion from a station to which foreign nations have been accustomed to, attach ideas of sovereign power, sacredness of character, and hereditary right, is a measure of the most consummate policy and wisdom. The title of king, prince, emperor, or czar, without the smallest addition to his powers, would have rendered him a member of the fraternity of crowned heads: their common cause has more than once threatened the desolation of Europe. To have added a member to this sacred family in America, would have invited and perpetuated among us all the evils of Pandoras Box. Charles Pinckney in 1800 said the presidential eligibility clause was designed to insure attachment to the country. President Washington warned a passionate attachment of one nation for another, produces a variety of evils, and goes on to say:
Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation, of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill- will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld.
And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearance of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
What better way to insure attachment to the country then to require the President to have inherited his American citizenship through his American father and not through a foreign father. Any child can be born anywhere in the country and removed by their father to be raised in his native country. The risks would be for the child to return in later life to reside in this country bringing with him foreign influences and intrigues, and thus, making such a citizen indistinguishable from a naturalized citizen.
Therefore, we can say with confidence that a natural-born citizen of the United States means those persons born whose father the United States already has an established jurisdiction over, i.e., born to fathers who are themselves citizens of the United States. A person who had been born under a double allegiance cannot be said to be a natural-born citizen of the United States because such status is not recognized (only in fiction of law). A child born to an American mother and alien father might be said to be a citizen of the United States by some affirmative act of law (if there was one) but never entitled to be a natural-born citizen because through laws of nature the child inherits the condition of their father~~~~~~~~~