1. Those born of parents who are citizens.
2. A person born of American parents. Thus a person born abroad of American parents, according to the Constitution, would be eligible to the office of President.
3. One whose citizenship is established by the jurisdiction which the United States already has over the parents of the child, not what is thereafter acquired by choice of residence in this country.
4. Those persons born whose father the United States already has an established jurisdiction over, i.e., born to father's who are themselves citizens of the United States.
5. One who is a citizen by no act of law.
If a person owes their citizenship to some act of law, they cannot be considered a natural-born citizen. This leads us to defining natural-born citizen under the laws of nature.
Children naturally follow the condition of their fathers, and succeed to all their rights. The country of the fathers is therefore that of the children.
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. Vattel, The Law of Nations: I. XIX. § 212.
The Framers were not men who dropped words in by accident. They thought about every word. They argued about every word.
By drawing on the term so well known from English law, the Founders were recognizing the law of hereditary, rather than territorial allegiance. Alexander Porter Morse, "Natural-Born-Citizen of the United States: Eligibility for the Office of President," Albany Law Journal, vol.66 (1904), pp. 99. The framers thought it wise, in view of the probable influx of European immigration, to provide that the President should at least be the child of citizens owing allegiance to the United States at the time of his birth. Morse, op. cit, p. 99.
The presidential eligibility clause was scarcely intended to bar the children of American parentage, whether born at sea or in foreign territory. The Founders and the first Congress, which passed the 1790 Naturalization Act, defined a "natural born" citizen as one whose citizenship is established by the jurisdiction which the United States already has over the parents of the child, not what is thereafter acquired by choice of residence in this country. Morse, op. cit., p. 99. Whoever drew the Act followed closely the various parliamentary statues of Great Britain; and its language in this relation indicates that the first congress entertained and declared that children of American parentage, wherever born, were within the constitutional designation, "natural-born citizens." The act is declaratory: but the reason that such children are natural born remains; that is, their American citizenship is natural -- the result of parentage -- and is not artificial or acquired by compliance with legislative requirements. Morse, op. cit., p. 100.
If the Founders had not wanted an expansive definition of citizenship, it would only have been necessary to say, 'no person, except a native-born citizen.' Morse, op. cit., p. 99.
It should be noted that Morse is reluctant to accept one implication of the dictionary definition of "native-born," namely, that it includes people born in the United States even if their parents are not citizens.
If you are born of American parents, you are a Natural Born Citizen.
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