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.
In 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).
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.