In a recent article, Leo Donofrio takes aim, it looks like, at this blog.
Long-time readers here know that I took up the defense of President Chester A. Arthur after he was most unjustly maligned by Mr. Leo C. Donofrio. While he published a picture of the cover of Arthur foe A. P. Hinman’s book, How a British subject became president of the United States, I got a real copy through interlibrary loan, scanned, and published it in its entirety, uncovering an interesting letter, that is the starting point of Donofrio’s latest essay. But Donofrio must have misread what I wrote, because he misrepresents what I said rather badly. Here’s the relevant bit from Donofrio:
Thomas F. Bayard was a US Senator from Delaware between 1869 and 1885, which includes the Chester Arthur administration. From 1885 to 1889, Bayard was Secretary of State under Grover Cleveland. This is the same Bayard mentioned in Hinman’s book on Chester Arthur. Hinman wrote to Bayard and Bayard’s response has been erroneously cited by those who support Obama’s eligibility. For some reason I have yet to comprehend, they argue Bayard was aware of Chester Arthur having been born a British subject.
But nothing in Bayard’s letter to Hinman supports that position.
I daresay Mr. Donofrio has a hard time comprehending this view, because no one I know of has ever made such a claim. My article in which I present Bayard’s letter, Chester A. Arthur: Rest in Peace, claims that it is likely that Hinman (not Bayard) knew about Arthur’s father’s naturalization status based on the letter. But I never said, nor do I have any reason to believe one way or the other, what Senator Bayard believed.
One can infer from Bayard’s reply to Hinman, that Hinman had asked a question something like this:
If a father becomes a naturalized US citizen, does that make his minor children natural born US citizens?
Hinman, whose claim is that Arthur was born in Canada (a view widely discounted by modern historians), must have included that letter in his book as proof that the naturalization of Arthur’s father either did not, or could not, make him a natural born citizen (if he were born in Canada). I can see no other reason to raise this question unless Hinman knew this was the case, and wanted to block such an avenue towards presidential eligibility.
If A. P. Hinman, a political opposition lawyer hired to get dirt on Arthur, knew that Arthur’s father became a citizen before Arthur was born, then the whole notion of Arthur hiding his father’s naturalization status and fooling everyone, is false.
Does Donofrio provide the text of Bayard’s letter? Does he provide a link to Bayard’s letter? You should know Nobot lawyers well enough by now to correctly guess the answer to those questions. Have I provided a link to Donofrio’s article? (Well you should have seen it first thing above.)
But this isn’t the whole story. Bayard not only gives us evidence as to what Hinman knew and when did he know it, Bayard also comments on what a natural born citizen is:
DEAR SIR :-In response to your letter of the 7th instant-
the term” natural-born citizen,” as used in the Constitution and Statutes of the U. S., is held to be a native of the U. S.
But not content to make a false claim about what others have said, Donofrio launches into a grander bit of misinformation, claiming proof of exactly the opposite:
US Government Ruling From 1885 by Secretary of State Thomas Bayard Proves Chester Arthur’s British Birth Was Kept From Public.
Now we get into the fine print, and I mean literally to small to read on his web page! Sometimes I think these lawyers publish long-winded things in hopes that no one will actually read them. I tire looking for the gold coin in a bucket of mud just like everyone else. [If you want to actually try to read the thing, look at the little “toggle full screen link” upper right on the Scribd image, then click the Magnify gadget to make it big enough to read, and then skip the first 2 pages which have nothing at all to do with the matter, reminding me of an exchange from Douglas Adams’ book, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ending in “Beware the leopard“.] The preceding claim is a remarkable one. Does the tiny text back him up? Basically the text Donofrio offers backs up his remarkable claim in a round-about way, saying that if Bayard had known, then we would have heard from him, since he believe such persons were not citizens. Note that I said “not citizens”, rather than “not natural born citizens”.
Donofrio sums up the case by saying:
It’s important we note Bayard’s concern that the German subject was, “on his birth subject to a foreign power“. That’s the key. “On his birth”, Chester Arthur was born subject to a foreign power.
Donofrio’s argument would be pretty good if the case Bayard was discussing is like that of Arthur. It is not. To understand the difference, one may turn to a citation in US v. Wong Kim Ark:
[The child of alien parents born in the United States] allegiance to the United States is direct and immediate, and, although but local and temporary, continuing only so long as he remains within our territory, is yet, in the words of Lord Coke in Calvin’s Case, 7 Coke, 6a, ’strong enough to make a natural subject, for, if he hath issue here, that issue is a natural-born subject’
While Arthur’s father was not only within the territory of the United States, he was a permanent resident by any definition of the term, and subsequently became a naturalized American citizen, the German father of Richard Greisser’s was domiciled in Germany at the moment of Richard’s birth (and not subject at all to the jurisdiction of the United States).
However, the Nation Article cited by Donofrio, rather than supporting Donofrio’s claims, demolishes the whole natural born citizen denial nonsense with many citations and cases. I comment it to everyone. Remember, it starts on page 3.