The late 1700’s occasioned a spirited debate over the qualifications of citizens, those aliens who desired to adhere to the United States and become members of American society. Some argued that only those born here should become citizens, and others argued for lengthy residence requirements. Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina gave us some words that I think are a caution to us in the present citizenship controversy:
gentlemen in their zeal to get at particular persons, will go too far in this business
Sitgreaves, Annals of Congress, 5th Cong. 2d sess., 1572; 1780.