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)).
Oh yeah, that the definition of Natural Born Citizen wasn't in the English translation of de Vattel's 'The Law of Nations' until 1797 and therefore you said that definition tying NBC to it didn't exist. You are an idiot. Obviously, you were soooo full of you know what...the word starts with an 'S'.
Very likely. One of my customers from the Boston area had a typical set of "odd" pronunciations. Forward came out "fah-wood". Peabody was "pee'-buh-dee".
Was there ever a challenge to Spiro T. Agnew's eligibility?
I don’t know. Agnew’s father was an immigrant, but I don’t know when (or if) he became a naturalized citizen. Was his mother also an immigrant?
According to census records, his immigrant father was a resident alien (non-citizen) and his mother was American when Agnew was born. I don't know if he received citizenship later but the important fact is that he was not a citizen at Agnew's birth.
If he/she then spent at least 14 years on US soil, Drew would be correct. Might have a bit of a problem getting 53% of the vote though.
Not quite. The NBC requirement also applies to the Vice President, according to the last sentence of the Twelfth Amendment:
But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.
You should be ashamed of your self, but at least you openly demonstrate how absurd the depth you'll sink to defend your position and love for the bamster.
If the NBC clause in the Constitution doesn't matter to you why should the 14 years? Why should he have to be 35?
Don't even bother responding, troll.
Damn, I almost thought the wiggster had returned, whew!
Interesting. Agnew was born on Nov. 9, 1918 (two days before the armistice) so he should be on the 1920 and 1930 censuses, both of which are now available to the public. Which one did you consult?
>> Not quite. The NBC requirement also applies
>> to the Vice President
True. And that's a scary thought as well,
but I'd take stupid over EVIL.
With the exception of perhaps the SECDEF,
there's a little bit of BOTH on this list after Obama:
|1||Vice President and President of the Senate||Joe Biden|
|2||Speaker of the House of Representatives||Nancy Pelosi|
|3||President pro tempore of the Senate||Robert Byrd|
|4||Secretary of State||Hillary Rodham Clinton|
|5||Secretary of the Treasury||Timothy Geithner|
|6||Secretary of Defense||Robert Gates|
|7||Attorney General||Eric Holder|
|8||Secretary of the Interior||Ken Salazar|
|9||Secretary of Agriculture||Tom Vilsack|
|10||Secretary of Commerce||Gary Locke|
|11||Secretary of Labor||Hilda Solis|
|12||Secretary of Health and Human Services||Kathleen Sebelius|
|13||Secretary of Housing and Urban Development||Shaun Donovan|
|14||Secretary of Transportation||Ray LaHood|
|15||Secretary of Energy||Steven Chu|
|16||Secretary of Education||Arne Duncan|
|17||Secretary of Veterans Affairs||Eric Shinseki|
|18||Secretary of Homeland Security||Janet Napolitano
Naah heehee...I like to post to the zots sometimes. I know they lurk out there. ;-) Besides, he is on my ping list I keep on my forum page. *Snicker*
Found this on the net.
The problem with insisting now on the original rule that both parents must be citizens at the person's birth is that there have been exceptions which passed unchallenged at the time (Chester Arthur for VP and for President, Agnew for VP). The public seems to think that anyone born in the US is a "natural born citizen" so it's going to be hard for a few constitutional experts to set them straight.
According to a poster, MGB, here: http://www.therightsideoflife.com/2010/02/22/eligibility-hi-petition-launched-in-spite-of-introduced-bills/ they state that the 1910 and 1930 Census, as well as Agnew's father's WWI registration card state the he was a Naturalized citizen. His WWI reg card is dated Sept. 12, 1918 and Agnew was born Nov. 9, 1918. Coupled with a 1910 census listing that status, it appears that his father was Naturalized prior to the birth of Agnew. Therefore, Agnew would be NBC.
Of note, apparently the 1920 census lists his father's status as alien. However, that same census also lists the wrong year of his immigration.
BTTT & bookmark
That about ends the speculation of Spiro Agnew’s NBC status. I would think that all the presidents and all the VPs have been sifted through and scrutinized about their origins by both the right and the left since the Obama.
He’s been an Obongo loving troll forever.
correction... a day and a half
New troll alert
Dang - missed it.
Remember, that list only applies when all above a particular postition are "wiped out" at the same time. If the President goes, then the VP becomes President AND picks a new VP, with the advice and consent of the Senate. If both Pres and VP go at the same time, then Speakers becomes President and picks a new VP. and similarly down the list. Of course if anyone on the list is not eligible, then they do not become President if they otherwise would have.
Bottom line, barring a nuke attack on DC, I don't think we need worry about President Stretch or President Sheets, and cetainly not President Hildebeast.
Damn, I missed it, who was it?
What was the post?
Nice try, but apparently Agnew was NBC and the 1920 Census data was in error. While Arthur's status was not generally known. It was known or at least thought (correctly) that the was born in Vermont, It was also known that his mother was born in the US, and that his father had been here, or in Canada, for a good long time before his birht, and was a citizen at the time of his selection to VP. What was not known was that his father was not naturalized until well after Chester's birth(about 14 years afterwards) The latter fact was only recently unearthed.
Since "the public" did not know his status, how can you say they approved?
Even though, in the only verified case of someone with that status becoming (de facto) President, that status was not known to the public when he was elected (VP) and/or became (de facto) President.
Really, really desperate.
As if "public opinion in the late 1880s or the late 1960s/early 1970s has anything directly do with the original meaning of any term in the Constitution in the first place. It means what it meant when written and ratified. Nothing more, nothing less. That's the way written contracts and Constitutions are.
Signed up 4/3/2010. Made one post today, went off on a Freeper. The trolls sure are worried about that BC aren’t they?
It is amazing just how hard they are trying to show some precedent.
And yeah, “public opinion” during any period is not enough to change the Constitution in anyway, anyway.
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.