Cecil touched briefly on the issue of citizenship of people living in territories in * The Straight Dope Tells All * with a mention of President Taft and Ohio allegedly not achieving statehood until 1953. But Senator Goldwater was born in Arizona in 1909; Melvin Belli, the famous personal-injury lawyer, contended that Goldwater could not qualify as president because, not being born in a state, he was therefore not a natural born citizen. (Arizona was admitted as a state in 1912.) Yeah, I know Goldwater was trounced in the Presidential election–but what about Alaska and Hawaii? Maybe Senator Daniel Inouye (whose birthday is today), a native of Hawaii and a hero in World War II, might not care to run—but certainly some other Hawaiians or Alaskans born before 1959 might want to. Would these Alaskans and Hawaziians qualify as “natural born citizens,” or would the Presidency not be open to those states’ citizens born during the territorial period?
Since Goldwater was allowed to run, it shows that no one took the claim he wasn’t a natural-born citizen seriously. (Four years later, a similar hairsplit occurred over George Romney, who was born in Mexico to U.S. parents. Once Romney got brainwashed, of course, the issue became moot. )
If the parents of the candidate are U.S. citizens, it doesn’t matter if the candidate was not born within the U.S. states. As long as you never held any foreign citizenship, then you are presumably a natural born U.S. citizen. I’m pretty sure that people born in U.S. territories are considered citizens from birth.
Well, here’s a good link for y’all: http://travel.state.gov/acquisition.html .
And here’s what it says:
You will notice that there are a couple of requirements above which could result in the child being born a Stateless Alien; i.e., being born in a country which does not grant citizenship to those born on their soil (jus soil) but based on paternity/maternity only.
I do believe that there still remains one U.S. territory in which the residents are American Nationals, not citizens. I may be wrong; however, I will peruse the INS and State Department sites and post the results as soon as I can.
American Somoans are nationals not citizens.
I think the rest of the territories are citizens.
To put a spin on the thread does it say anywhere in the constitution the VICE PRESIDENT has to be a natural born citizen?
Mark…I’m pretty sure not, but it’s kind of pointless not to select one as your VP candidate, unless you’re gung ho on ensuring the Senate has an outstanding presiding officer.
Remembering John Nance Garner’s story about the family with two sons… “One of them ran away to sea; the other was elected Vice President. Neither was ever heard of again.”
I think it says in the Twelfth Amendment that no person not eligible to the office of President could qualify as Vice President either.
I should have expected that someone would bring this up about Al Gore, who was born in Washington D. C.
To Polycarp: That’s an interesting comment about Garner, who was in fact the Vice President who lived the longest. (He died in 1967 at the age of 98.) But the last time I know his picture to have appeared in a newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, was November 22, 1963–the day Kennedy was shot.
I don’t think holding a foreign citizenship is the issue. Take my case. I was born in the United States from swiss parents. So at birth I got two nationalities (USA and Switzerland.) I spent most of my life in Switzerland, by the way, but I don’t think that’s relevant to the issue. I still have both nationalities. As far as I know, there is no law that says I cannot be elected president.
La franchise ne consiste pas à dire tout ce que l’on pense, mais à penser tout ce que l’on dit.
H. de Livry
I can’t believe that such an easy and settled question has caused such debate. (^:
- Any person born in the United States, except to parents who are diplomats of another country, is automatically a citizen of the United States.
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Amendment XIV, U.S. Constitution.
“… it is beyond doubt that, before the enactment of the civil rights act of 1866 or the adoption of the constitutional amendment, all white persons, at least, born within the sovereignty of the United States, whether children of citizens or of foreigners, excepting only children of ambassadors or public ministers of a foreign government, were native-born citizens of the United States.” U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898).
- The jurisdiction of the United States encompasses all territory of the United States, whether within or outside a state.
“The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States.” Article IV, Section 3, U.S. Constitution.
“The power of Congress over the territories of the United States is general and plenary… It would be absurd to hold that the United States has power to acquire
territory, and no power to govern it when acquired. The power to acquire territory, other than the territory north-west of the Ohio river, (which belonged to the United States at the adoption of the Constitution,) is derived from the treaty-making power, and the power to declare and carry on war… The territory of Louisiana, when acquired from France, and the territories west of the Rocky mountains, when acquired from Mexico, became the absolute property and domain of the United States… Having rightfully acquired said territories, the United States government was the only one which could impose laws upon them, and its sovereignty
over them was complete. No state of the Union had any such right of sovereignty over them; no other country or government had any such right.” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v. United States, 136 U.S. 1 (1890).
So a person born in the territories is a natural-born citizen, and NOT rendered ineligible to run for President by being born outside a state. There is nothing to bar (for example) a 35-year-old who was born in Puerto Rico and lived there all their life from running for President.
Thanks, John. I bet you’re a lawyer. (I am a paralegal.)
When I brought this up to classmates during my sophomore year in high school–during the Johnson-Goldwater campaign–one said, “Well, what about George Washington?” This person had obviously not noticed the passage “No person except a natural born citizen, *or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution…” (to be honest, I had not noticed it either); the passage is not important now, of course; apparently Alexander Hamilton, born in the West Indies, would have qualified, though with his political philosophy he would scarcely be a better idea for the office of President than Rush Limbaugh!
Trivia question for the Teeming Millions: Who was the first U. S. President notborn a British subject?
Damn! I messed up the italics on that one.