President Chester A. Arthur was born, like President Barack H. Obama, in one of the United States of American to an American mother and a father who was a British citizen. One might wonder, if there is this historical precedent, why anyone today would raise a claim that Barack Obama was less a natural born citizen than his predecessor Chester A. Arthur.
Out of necessity, a fiction was created, one which says Chester A. Arthur hid the naturalization status of his father, because he knew he was ineligible. It is true that Arthur lied about his age (making himself a year younger than what was in the Family Bible) and he got some other dates wrong from the history of his family before he was born (Arthur was estranged from his father). But he never gave any lie that hid his father’s naturalization status.
A 19th century political operative, bent on bringing down Arthur went about trying to prove Arthur was really born in Canada. Indeed, the operative, a lawyer named A. P. Hinman, began before the election and continued his investigation until he published a book, four years later, titled How a British Subject became President of the United States. Today the claims of a Canadian birth for Arthur are dismissed by Arthur biographers; however, in a remarkable irony, A. P. Hinman’s little book leaves us proof that Arthur’s birth to an Irish citizen was well known at the time!
Obama Conspiracy Theories original research led to a copy of the crumbling volume from 1884, and publication of it on the Internet for the first time. Within that volume we find 3 interesting passages:
City and County of New York, ss
Chester A. Arthur, being duly sworn, says he is a native born
citizen of the United States; that he is of the age of
twenty-one years, and a resident of the First Judicial District
of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
CHESTER A. ARTHUR.
Sworn to before me this 4th day of May, 1854.
WM. A. DUSENBERRY, Com. of Deeds.
Indorsed; filed May 8, 1854.
State of New York,
City and County of New York, \ ss
I, William A. Butler, Clerk of the said City and County,
The second is even more interesting. It appears that not only did Americans know their President was born to an Irish father, the rest of the world did also:
PRESIDENT ARTHUR’S MESSAGE SEVERELY CRITICIZED BY
A ST. PETERSBURG JOURNAL-EXCEPTION TAKEN TO
THE CONDITION OF THE JEWS IN RUSSIA.
(By cable to the Herald.)
London, December 12, 1881.
…Arthur even refrains from making comments
on English home affairs–the Irish rebellion, for instance,
which is agitating millions of American citizens, who are
also born Irishmen like the President.
And as usual, leaving the best for last, A. P. Hinman assuming that Arthur was born in Canada, wrote a letter to Senator Bayard, asking if the father becoming naturalized could make his [alleged Canadian born] son a “natural born citizen”. This is the Senator’s reply:
Senate of the United States
City of Washington, January 10th, 1881.
A. P. HINMAN, E sq., New York.
DEAR SIR :-In response to your letter of the 7th instant-
the term” natural-born citizen,” as used in the Constitution
and Statutes of the U. S., is held to be a native of
the U. S.
The naturalization by law of a father before his child
attains the age of twenty-one, would be naturalization of
T. F. BAYARD.
You see, we can infer that Arthur’s fiercest critic, A. P. Hinman knew Arthur’s father was naturalized after Arthur was born. He shows it in his own book. And certainly the Donofrio allegation that Hinman was so utterly confused by the Canadian birth issue that he didn’t think of the naturalization of Arthur’s father is completely ruled out by the contents of the preceding letter.