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Naturalization Acts of New York (1770)

newyorkA great deal is made in some quarters about a letter from John Jay of New York to George Washington in 1787 in which Jay suggested that the new US Commander in Chief should be a natural born citizen. What did Jay mean by that phrase? Did he adopt the words from the Swiss philosopher Emmerich de Vattel (with whom he was familiar) or did he perhaps adapt them from the laws of his own state of New York?

Prior to the American revolution in 1776 Americans were British subjects, but it seems clear from the following that natural born subjects were those born in the colony of New York, with no reference to who their parents were.

BE IT THEREFORE ENACTED by his Honor the Lieutenant Governor the Council and the General Assembly and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same that the before mentioned several Persons and each and every of them shall be and hereby are declared to be naturalized to all Intents Constructions and purposes whatsoever and from henceforth and at all Times hereafter shall be entitled to have and enjoy all the Rights Liberties Privileges and Advantages which his Majesty’s Natural born Subjects in this Colony have and enjoy or ought to have and enjoy as fully to all Intents and purposes whatsoever as if all and every of them had been born within this Colony.

January 27, 1770

The Colonial Laws of New York from the Year 1664 to the Revolution Including the Charters to the Duke of York, the Commissions and Instructions to Colonial Governors, the Duke’s Laws, the Laws of the Dongan and Leisler Assemblies, the Charters of Albany and New York and the Acts of the Colonial Legislatures from 1691 to 1775 Inclusive By New York (State), Charles Zebina Lincoln, William H. Johnson, Ansel Judd Northrup, New York (State)., New York (State). Commissioners of Statutory Revision, Albany (N.Y.)., New York (Colony), New York (Colony). Charters, New York (N.Y.)., New York (N.Y.). Charters

Similar language appears in the Naturalization Acts of Massachusetts.

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3 Responses to Naturalization Acts of New York (1770)

  1. avatar
    red red rose December 7, 2009 at 2:00 am #

    The Political code of the state of New York (1860)
    Sec.5 The citizens of the state are:
    1. All persons born in this state and domiciled within it, except the children of transient aliens and of alien public ministers and consuls;
    2. All persons born out of this state who are citizens of the United States and domiciled within this state.

    The children born to transient aliens were not citizens of the state and therefore not citizens of the United States.

    The same was true in California, North Dakota, Montana, Virginia…

    Since the children of aliens were not even citizens at all, they could not be remotely considered to be natural born citizens of the US.

    The US did not follow British common law in the matter of citizenship.

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy December 7, 2009 at 8:11 am #

    First, the code you cite defines citizens of the state of New York, not citizens of the United States. A previous decision of the Supreme Court of New York in 1853 (Lynch v. Clarke) makes it completely clear that the children of aliens born in the United States were natural born citizens of the United States.

    If you are going to assert “California, North Dakota, Montana, Virginia…”, then please provide the relevant citations (especially for the …).

    Further, Obama’s mother was not a “transient alien”. And finally this code is prior to the 14th amendment that defines citizenship in the United States.

    Your comment is on topic, though.

  3. avatar
    Scientist December 7, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    To the birther “mind” (poetic license taken)it is still 1790 or 1860 or some bygone date when people like Barack Obama knew their place (and it wasn’t the White House). The amazing thing is that they promulgate their nostalgia on the internet, of all places. Of course, their legal “arguments” of original intent are hazardous to their own medium, since the framers of the First Amendment said “freedom of the press”. By “press”, they meant newspapers and certainly did not envisage radio, TV or the internet. Thus, censorship of birthers on the internet would be perfectly constitutional, right? And please don’t cite any post-1900 Supreme Court decisions to the contrary.