Promoted from diaries.
Having discussed in Part I of my series the view of Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution‘s “natural born citizen” requirement in the days of the early republic, and provided a digression on the role English common law played in American law, it is now time to look at how the clause was viewed in the latter half of the 19th century. A particular emphasis will be placed upon the 14th amendment, but as the title shows, the timeline of topics discussed makes it clear I swill be discussing more than just that. Since this time period seems to be a favorite of many birthers, I’m going to have to pay special attention to these topics. At the same time, in the interests of not making this a book length post, I will have to balance the need for some brevity as well.
Also, I apologize for such a great delay between Part I (and the digression) and this post. As you can probably tell, assembling a post like this takes a lot of research, and that can take a while. I believe I actually began Part I in April, but only returned to finish it in mid-May. Regardless, this part is finally done after sitting “in the hopper” for almost a month.
What we have learned thus far in our study is that early legal minds, including James Madison himself, all believed that a “natural born citizen” was a person born in this country to parents, regardless of whether they were citizens or not, provided that they owed the country allegiance, which would exclude foreign ministers, ambassadors, similar agents of other nations acting on behalf of their sovereign, American Indians (at the time), and enemies engaged in hostilities on a nation’s soil. This allegiance could be temporary or permanent, but it had to be present. As James Madison said:
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; it will therefore be unnecessary to investigate any other.