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Strike out with the Bayard Papers

One of my particular interests is a story concocted by Leo Donofrio to explain away the fact that President Chester A. Arthur had a non-US-citizen father. In Donofrio’s alternative history, Arthur, knowing that he was ineligible, purposely hid the fact that his father naturalized after the President’s birth.

imageIn any case, the story leads to a Democrat lawyer named Arthur P. Hinman, who traipsed all over Northeast looking for proof that Arthur was really born in Canada, and wrote an 1884 book titled: How a British Subject Became President of the United States. Hinman’s argument had nothing about the father’s naturalization except for a curious letter that he wrote to New York Senator Thomas F. Bayard (pictured right).

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This letter hints that Bayard knew about the Arthur naturalization and wanted to nail down any speculation that this would make the son a natural-born citizen. I got a copy of the book through interlibrary loan and scanned it. My copy was put on Scribd by someone.

What was intriguing is that the text of the Hinman letter is elided. I recently learned that the Library of Congress has a collection of the Papers of Thomas F. Bayard that includes correspondence for 1881, and I commissioned a search for the Hinman letter. It’s not there. The researcher suggested that the letter might be in some other collection besides that of the Library of Congress.

Sigh.

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4 Responses to Strike out with the Bayard Papers

  1. avatar
    Egh May 22, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Thank you for your continued scholarship. I read with interest the hinman text from the link you provided. Two things of question. First, I don’t understand your use of the word Elided regarding bayard. Am I being too literal to look for text struck out? or are you hinting that there has been some scrubbing in the modern sense of conspiracy?

    Second, a few pages before the text that you cite on page 82, hinman includes a sworn statement of caa that he is a native born citizen. I read that hinman includes this early 1854 statement to draw clear distinction between native and natural born. I know that your position reads these terms as effectively interchangeable from the 1868 14th amendment. Any comment here to clarify is helpful

    Lastly, I encourage everyone to read the poem that hinman cribs as epilogue on the plight of a19th C birther.

    Sighs all around

  2. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy May 22, 2012 at 7:14 pm #

    “Elided” can mean “shortened” and that is the sense in which I used it. The text from Hinman’s book is something I scanned myself from an actual copy of the 1884 volume, so there’s no chance something has been deleted.

    I am not aware of Hinman ever making a distinction between “native citizen” and “natural born citizen.” Since Hinman’s thesis was that Arthur was not native born, “native born” as a definition suited his purposes.Clearly Senator Bayard takes them to mean the same and several judicial opinions from the 19th century use “native born” when talking about presidential eligibility.

    Whether they are actually the same or not can be debated, but conflating the terms was not unusual. See comment here:

    http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2009/10/racism-and-dred-scott/#comment-24695

    By way of clarification, my personal position is that “natural born citizen” is the same as “born a citizen” and includes both native-born citizens and those born US citizens abroad.

    Egh: Thank you for your continued scholarship. I read with interest the hinman text from the link you provided. Two things of question. First, I don’t understand your use of the word Elided regarding bayard. Am I being too literal to look for text struck out? or are you hinting that there has been some scrubbing in the modern sense of conspiracy?

    Second, a few pages before the text that you cite on page 82, hinman includes a sworn statement of caa that he is a native born citizen. I read that hinman includes this early 1854 statement to draw clear distinction between native and natural born. I know that your position reads these terms as effectively interchangeable from the 1868 14th amendment. Any comment here to clarify is helpful

  3. avatar
    Dr. Paul Maas RIsenhoover May 23, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    see for yourself, search term BAYARD in boolean mode with natural born
    http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/FRUS/Search.html
    or natural born citizen
    you’ll see plenty of times the US Department of State found a person born abroad
    but by statute deemed a citizen to be a natural born citizen, and many times the Department held that a person born in the US to alien parents was a natural born citizen eligible to be President

  4. avatar
    Egh May 23, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Thank you both doc c and dr. Paul.

    Trust that I am always reading