“The natives, or natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.”
December 15, 2008
What is this “natural born citizen” mentioned as one of the three requirements to be President and “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States”?
Article 2, Section 1 of the United States Constitution:
“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Thanks to Leo Donfrio’s work, an excellent reference from the late 18th century sheds some light on how the authors of the Constitution would have understood the term “natural born citizen”. The below reference is from Vattel’s 1758 work, “THE LAW OF NATIONS”.
“This 1758 work by Swiss legal philosopher Emmerich de Vattel is of special importance to scholars of constitutional history and law, for it was read by many of the Founders of the United States of America, and informed their understanding of the principles of law which became established in the Constitution of 1787. “
And the reference in question:
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.
It’s my opinion that the term “natural born citizen” was understood by all politically-savvy thinkers in the 18th and 19th centuries so much so that even President Chester Arthur hid the fact that he wasn’t a natural born citizen in order to become president.
This means neither Barack Obama nor John McCain could be defined as natural born citizens, proving that those who would claim to rule and reign over us give no thought to “law” if it impedes their ambitions but apply that same “law” to us if it would increase their titles, status and wealth.