by CDR Charles F. Kerchner, Jr., P.E. (Ret), ©2018, blogging at CDRKerchner

(Sep. 17, 2018) — Is Being Born a Citizen of the United States Sufficient Citizenship Status to be President? The Founders and Framers Emphatically Decided, “No, It Was Not!”

During the process of developing a new U.S. Constitution Alexander Hamilton submitted a suggested draft for a Constitution on June 18, 1787. At some point, he also suggested to the framers a proposal for the qualification requirements in Article II as to the necessary Citizenship status for the office of President and Commander in Chief of the Military.  Another version of Hamilton’s proposed Constitution and which principles were stated during the convention’s deliberations per Madison notes and journal (see work of Farrand – pg 619), was given to Madison near the close of the convention for inclusion in Madison record of events for the convention. Hamilton’s proposed Constitution was not accepted.

Alexander Hamilton’s suggested presidential eligibility clause:

“No person shall be eligible to the office of President of the United States unless he be now a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States.”

Many of the founders and framers rightly had a fear of foreign influence on the person who would in the future be President of the United States since this particular office was singularly and uniquely powerful under the proposed new Constitution. The President was also to be the Commander in Chief of the military. This fear of foreign influence on a future President and Commander in Chief was particularly strongly felt by John Jay, who later became the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He felt so strongly about the issue of potential foreign influence that he took it upon himself to draft a letter to General George Washington, the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention, recommending/hinting that the framers should strengthen the Citizenship requirements. John Jay was an avid reader and proponent of natural law and particularly Vattel’s treatise on Natural Law and the Law of Nations. In his letter to Washington he said that the Citizenship requirement for the office of the commander of our armies should contain a “strong check” against foreign influence and he recommended to Washington that the command of the military be open only to a “natural born Citizen”. Thus Jay did not agree that simply being a “born Citizen” or “born a Citizen” was sufficient enough protection from foreign influence in the singular most powerful office in the new form of government. He wanted another adjective added to the eligibility clause, i.e., ‘natural’. And that word natural goes to the Citizenship status of one’s parents, both of them, when their child is born, as per natural law.

The below is the relevant proposed change language from Jay’s letter which he proposed to strengthen the citizenship requirements in Article II and to require more than just being a “born Citizen” of the United States to serve as a future Commander in Chief and President.

Read the rest here.

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  1. Thanks to the Post & Email and CDR Kerchner for the acknowledgement of “Constitution Day”.
    Maybe other media covered it, but I didn’t see nor hear anyone else mention it nor speak on
    it. Perhaps it should be made a national holiday. Let’s all contact Trump and Congress and
    make Constitutional Day a reality.

  2. One need not defer to “experts” to understand the plain meaning of our Constitution.

    The Constitution itself distinguishes between a mere born citizen and a true natural born Citizen because “natural” cannot be a meaningless word (to think otherwise is to insult the founders). Therefore, logic and common sense dictate that “natural born Citizen” must be a more restrictive subset of the general category of born citizens.

    To disregard such a deliberate choice of words and their natural meaning, would be a departure from the first principle of constitutional interpretation. “In expounding the Constitution of the United States,” said Chief Justice Taney in Holmes v. Jennison, 14 U.S. 540, 570-1 (1840), “every word must have its due force and appropriate meaning; for it is evident from the whole instrument, that, no word was unnecessarily used, or needlessly added. “

    “The many discussions which have taken place upon the construction of the Constitution, have proved the correctness of this proposition; and shown the high talent, the caution and the foresight of the illustrious men who framed it. Every word appears to have been weighed with the utmost deliberation and its force and effect to have been fully understood.” — Chief Justice Charles E. Hughes in Wright v. United States, 302 U.S. 583 (1938) quoting and reaffirming Chief Justice Roger Taney in Holmes v. Jennison.

    The Constitution clearly indicates that there is a difference between a mere born citizen and a true natural born Citizen, that they cannot mean the same thing otherwise the qualifier “natural” would be superfluous and would have been left out altogether. Now one might try to argue about what constitutes the subset of born citizens who are natural born Citizens, but it must be a subset and a significant one. One may try to quibble about what meaning “natural” adds, but the obvious meaning is “of or by nature” as opposed to “of or by man.”

    Which born citizens are citizens by nature and not by law? Only those born to both a citizen father and a citizen mother AND born on native soil. 100 percent of Blood and of Dirt. Those whose birth citizenship exists only because of a law or statute are merely statutory born citizens. Words mean things.

  3. Today, the Society for the Preservation of our American Republic, founded on September 17, 1987, the bi-centennial of the U.S. Constitution starts it’s 32th year. Read my book “Imposters in the Oval Office”, on the subject of “Natural-Born Citizen[ship]” and how Obama and Arthur flouted the requirement and usurped the Presidency by fraud and how others, like Cruz and Rubio, have attempted it.

  4. All well and nice but why not mention William Rawle’s 1826 statement? Or Congressman Hillhouse’s 1795 statement? Or Zephaniah Swift’s 1795 statement on Connecticut state citizenship?

    Their statement’s contradict the author’s conclusions.

    Present all the information and let people decide for themselves.