Just as most of us had never heard of Emerich de Vattel before the birthers discovered him, and based a new theory of presidential eligibility on a section of his book (short-titled in English) The Law of Nations, so I was until a couple of years ago unaware of another author on the law of nations and natural law, Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui. A quotation of his appears in a letter to the editor of the Charleston City Gazette in 1789 in the Smith-Ramsay exchange of letters regarding Smith’s eligibility to run for Congress (see: The Documentary History of the First Federal Elections 1788-1790 by Jensen and Becker, pages 188-190). The unattributed quotation is from a 1748 work by Burlamaqui called (in English) The Principles of Natural and Politic Law. If anything, this is evidence of how well-read some Americans were in 1789: in their debate, Smith invokes Vattel and Ramsay cites Blackstone and invokes Burlamaqui.
So for your edification and debating pleasure, I present this extended citation from The Principles of Natural and Politic Law (1752 translation by Mr. Nugent), courtesy of Constitution.org.
Of the sovereign, sovereignty; and the subjects.
VIII. Now a person becomes a member or subject of a state two ways, either by an express or by a tacit covenant.
IX. If by an express covenant, the thing admits of no difficulty. But, with regard to a tacit covenant, we must observe, that the first founders of states, and all those, who afterwards became members thereof, are supposed to have stipulated, that their children and descendants should, at their coming into the world, have the right of enjoying those advantages, which are common to all the members of the state, provided nevertheless that these descendants, when they attain to the use of reason, be on their part willing to submit to the government, and to acknowledge the authority of the sovereign.
X. I said provided the descendants acknowledged the authority of the sovereign; for the stipulation of the parents cannot, in its own nature, have the force of subjecting the children against their will to an authority, to which they would not of themselves choose to submit. Hence the authority of the sovereign over the children of the members of the state, and the right, on the other hand, which these children have to the protection of the sovereign, and to the advantages of the government, are founded on mutual consent.
XI. Now if the children of members of the state, upon attaining to the years of discretion, are willing to live in the place of their parentage, or in their native country, they are by this very act supposed to submit themselves to the power, that governs the state, and consequently they ought to enjoy, as members of that state, the advantages naturally arising from it. This is the reason likewise, that, when once the sovereign is acknowledged, he has no occasion to tender the oath of allegiance to the children, who are afterward born in his dominions.
XII. Besides, it is a maxim, which has been ever considered, as a general law of government, that whosoever merely enters upon the territories of a state, and by a much stronger reason those, who are desirous of enjoying the advantages, which are to be found there, are supposed to renounce their natural liberty, and to submit to the established laws and government, so far as the public and private safety require. And, if they refuse to do this, they may be considered as enemies, in this sense at least, that the government has a right to expel them the country; and this is likewise a tacit covenant, by which they make a temporary submission to the government.
I add three observations:
- Barack Obama, giving no consent to the sovereign of Great Britain when he attained majority would not be bound by any allegiance to said sovereign according to Burlamaqui.
- Barack Obama Sr. merely by being in the United States “submit[ted] to the established laws and government, so far as the public and private safety require.”
- Both Burlamaqui and Vattel recognize that the ultimate arbiter is the local laws and customs of individual governments, that is to say that citizenship is a matter of national law, not international law.