Sunday, June 29, 2008

John Jay Did Not Want The Top Offices To Be Open To Foreigners

This question regarding the presidency is a live one today, since McCain is not certainly a natural born citizen by our constitutional requirements for the presidency. Here is the relevant text:
"Permit me to hint whether it would not be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of foreigners into the administration of our national government ; and to declare expressly that the command in chief of the American army shall not be given to, nor devolve on any but a natural born citizen." (as found here: John Jay to George Washington) [ Images of the letter and its draft are here: 10627, 12782]
A commenter said that the founders were concerned over foreign ties among immigrants; at his site he reasons in this way:
"1. The 14th Amendment and matching policy limit citizenship to either natural born or naturalized, but not both.
2. John McCain was born in 1936 in the Canal Zone to citizen parents.
3. 8 USC 1403(a) declares naturalized citizenship in 1952 on persons born in the Canal Zone to citizen parents.
4. Therefore, 8 USC 1403(a) applies to John McCain at age 16.
5. Therefore, John McCain is a naturalized citizen.
6.By treaty, the Canal Zone was not part of the United States.
7. Therefore, John McCain was not born in the United States.
8. Therefore, John McCain is a citizen not born in the United States.
9. Therefore, John McCain is not a natural born citizen.
10. Article II of the Constitution states to be President a person must be a natural born citizen.
11. THEREFORE, John McCain is not eligible to be President of the United States under Article II of the Constitution; he should be decertified and removed from all present and future Presidential ballots; and his past results should be disallowed, including unbinding all of his committed delegates. "
The explanation of the natural born citizen requirement, being that it was desired to forestall damaging foreign influences from coalescing around an immigrant, would sound right if it were taken as referring to immigration after 1789. What about all the foreign-born who were citizens at that point already, and eligible by the specified exception, for the citizens of 1789, though? Wouldn't they be a greater threat than a potential immigration in the future? This is why I bring up the special case of the emigre Tories whose parents were Americans, and whose valuable lands had been taken and later sold to the great Whig families here. If one of them came back, claiming natural born citizenship by parentage if that were allowed in the clause, and became president, he would threaten the upset of those land acquisitions by those most important families, and perhaps more and worse, if trying for recolonization. Jay would not want any such in our military officer's ranks, nor in high office of any kind, much less the presidency. Of the foreigners he sees as most threatening, the hundred thousand Tories on the northern border, with their claims on the great landed fortunes, might appear the most motivated and close-situated, to even cause a lasting disinterest in repeating the experiment in a new kind of government.
Writes John Jay to Lansdown"There are, indeed, certain characters who can never return with safety...", referring to Tory exiles. Referring to British occupation of certain American border
lands, John Jay to Gilbert Du Motier Lafayette writes that: "It is certain that they pay great attention to the Indians, and give great encouragement to emigrants from us. Their expectations from the latter circumstance will fail them. I wish that every acre of ground they hold in America was settled by natives of the United States." Why was Jay taken so seriously on the subject of possible skulduggery by foreigners, and especially regarding the Tory settlers on those borders?
The Life of John Jay With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers By William Jay, p.202 "...Congress passed a secret act, limited to one year, giving Mr. Jay discretionary power to inspect letters in the post-office..." This intelligence operation was especially concerned with letters to and from Tories around the forts Britain held, inside or near the American borders. This link indicates that the presidential eligibility requirements were aimed at excluding Tories. Madison said 7-20-1787 that: "He might betray his trust to foreign powers. The case of the Executive" being meant. "Jay himself proposed an amendment barring all except 'natural born citizens,' who were freeholders as well (with some specified exceptions) from eligibility as President, Vice President, or as members of either house of Congress, a restriction even more severe than that which he had proposed to Washington in July of 1787." quoted from here: John Jay and the Constitution
Jay's proposal recurs in the first passage of the 12th amendment, before ratification, with fewer features. 12th amendment Natural Born Citizenship: "...nor shall any person be a Senator or Representative in the Congress of the United States, except a natural born citizen, [...] or unless he shall have been a resident in the United States at the time of the declaration of independence, and shall have continued to reside within the same or to be employed in its service from that period to the time of his election." The 'continued to reside' part neatly excludes the tories who emigrated and returned, and the 'natural born' requirement excludes the children of such families, who stayed out. It happens that these requirements were never ratified by the states, but they do reflect the understanding of natural born citizen of the statesmen of that time, following Jay closely. Considering that the illustrious Count Rumford was one of the emigres, who would have been made ineligible by one of these exclusions, it might be seen that the authors of these requirements did have something to fear, specifically of quality people being in that group of tories and their children.
The Naturalization Act of 1795
"...No person heretofore proscribed by any state, or who has been legally convicted of having joined the army of Great Britain during the late war, shall be admitted as foresaid, without the consent of the legislature of the state in which such person was proscribed."
This is another indication that, not only did they not want Tories in the top offices, but they didn't want their children to become citizens, at least not of those who had been 'proscribed'.


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone
Do not miss your chance to get a free ipad. Visit