The British Colonies in North America used legislation, called “naturalization acts” to make foreigners into citizens. The Constitution of the United States vested the power of naturalization with the Congress (to set up a uniform system), but in the interim between American independence and the ratification of the Constitution (and even a bit later), the states continued to pass naturalization acts.
Let’s compare two acts from the State of Massachusetts during this interim period.
From the State of Massachusetts in 1785:
From the State of Massachusetts in 1787:
The language is almost identical; however, one uses the phrase “natural born subject” (a holdover from colonial days) and the other uses “natural born citizen.” Could there be any doubt that in this context “natural born citizen” and “natural born subject” mean the same thing. I think not.
When the Massachusetts House of Representatives used the phrase “natural born citizen” they considered it substitutable for “natural born subject” and that is almost certainly where they got the phrase.
Thanks for those who provided the images.
I have found similar substitution of “natural born citizen” for “natural born subject” in the laws of the State of New York, on grants to individuals to hold hand. First from 1789 using “natural born subject”:
Compare with very similar language from 1792 using “natural born subject”:
It is just so obvious to see that colonial and state lawmakers understood that the term “natural born citizen” derives from the English common law term “natural born subject.” And here, I have traced it.
I hasten to add that this article is no new discovery or clever argument on my part. Vice-Chancellor Sandford of the New York Chancery court made this argument back in 1834.