The place was Connecticut; the year was 1886; the issue was money; the case: Town of New Hartford v. Town of Canaan, 5 A. 360 (Conn. 1886).
Lafayette Parrott was born in Massachusetts in 1836 to a resident alien father (the father later naturalized). Lafayette Parrott lived in various locations, ending up in in New Hartford, CT–where he fell on hard times. He claimed poverty and received financial support from the Town of New Hartford, but that town claimed that Mr. Parrott was really the responsibility of the Town of Canaan, and sued to recover its expenses.
Now it is not at all clear from the case description why the Town of Canaan was singled out as the “place of settlement” of Mr. Parrott, and that is not particularly relevant to our discussion here. What is relevant is that the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors held that Lafayette Parrott was a citizen of the United States from his birth (even though he was of an alien father). Further the court said that the election of citizenship when a child with dual citizenship reaches majority, “relates back to the time of his birth”. The court provides a wonderful legal survey of the law regarding citizenship in the United States.
There is just too much here to summarize in a few words, so sit back for some extensive citations. Continue Reading →