Happy Birthday to our first President, George Washington. There are quite a few articles on this web site tagged George Washington. I wrote an article, tongue in cheek, titled “George Washington, first in war, first in peace, and first presidential usurper” in my first month here. The article was bit of silliness, but there is a real question apart from whether or not Washington was eligible and that was whether or not he was a natural born citizen.
I wrote a more serious article about this question in April of 2010, titled George Washington – Natural Born Citizen. The reason I bring up the question again is that Birthers consistently decline to answer it.
John Jay wrote Washington suggesting that none but a natural born citizen be Commander in Chief. There is no qualification offered1.
James Madison, speaking before Congress in defense of the eligibility of Representative William Smith, said:
I conceive that every person who owed this primary allegiance to the particular community in which he was born, retained his right of birth, as a member of a new community; that he was absolved from a secondary allegiance that he had owed to a British sovereign.
By this principle George Washington, born in Virginia, was a natural born citizen of the United States provided parentage has no effect. Washington’s father, on the other hand, died a British Subject before the American Revolution. So if parental citizenship matters, then George Washington was not a natural born citizen, and as such, he would have been excluded by Jay from the office of Commander in Chief of the United States. Can anyone think of a more absurd exclusion?2
1One birther actually did attempt to take on the argument, but he asserted that John Jay must have implicitly known that the Constitutional Convention would create an exception for those who were citizens at the time of adoption. This view is essentially impossible due to the pledge of secrecy taken by the members of the Convention and it ignores what Jay actually wrote. In typical birther fashion, this commenter made up history to support his position.