The Freepers have taken me to task for something I said that wasn’t quite right. Of course, like everything they disagree with, the language becomes quickly hyperbolic, and my mistake become a lie, and my whole body of work becomes propaganda. It’s somewhat vexing not to be permitted to post over there, to reply and set the record straight, leaving me to do it here.
I originally approached this Obama conspiracy theories business with an open mind, and I try to do the same with each new twist and turn of the birther movement. When Leo C. Donofrio publicized his theories that research into the sources of the US Constitution led him to believe that natural born citizens must have citizen parents, I read everything I could get on the subject. This meant many hours of Google searches and buying some books. One of the books I bought was James H. Kettner’s book, The Development of American Citizenship, 1608 – 1870, published by the University of North Carolina Press.
While Kettner’s 391-page book covers the material in considerable detail, it never comes out and defines “natural born citizen.” However, it does provide extensive background into where American ideas on citizenship came from, and in particular gives considerable discussion to Lord Coke’s decision in Calvin’s Case.
I said in a comment here that Kettner’s book never mentions Emmerich de Vattel, and that is not true. There is one mention of a British loyalist, Peter van Schaack, who read Vattel and several other writers to help him decide whether he could legitimately participate in the American Revolution, concluding that he would not participate. That is the one and only mention of Vattel in the book.
While I believed that Kettner did not mention Vattel when I wrote it, I should have known better. Vattel is listed in the index, and my copy of Kettner even has the Vattel passage highlighted. All I can say as an excuse is that I read the book some months ago, since the Vattel reference was off topic, I forgot it.
All that said, nowhere in Kettner’s book is Vattel mentioned as a source of American ideas on citizenship. How do the historical revisionists explain a major scholarly work on the development of US Citizenship completely ignoring Vattel as a contributor to the topic of the book? They jump all over my tiny mistake, but ignore the substance of what I said.
The Freepers can do Snoopy’s “Happy Dance” because they got on on the old Doc, but they have lost the war. Kettner’s book is just one more proof that Vattel is irrelevant to the acquisition of American citizenship.
One birther, not to waste a citation, uses this quote from Kettner as proof that even “lowly farmers” read Vattel. Actually Peter van Schaack was not a “lowly farmer” but a prominent lawyer. Here is a picture of his lowly farm house, which still stands today in Kinderhook, NY.