3 votes

Natural Born Citizen

This post should forever settle the question. I found it today while researching for a post I wanted to write here on the subject.

A Dissertation on... Acquiring... Citizenship...
1789 | David Ramsay

Posted on Fri 13 May 2011 07:23:29 AM EDT by djf

Recently, I started a thread about Emer Vattel's definition of "natural born citizen". It was fairly lengthy, and covered alot of sub-topics. Overall, everyone conducted themselves with extreme good manner, and while the issue seemed to remain unresolved, I was proud of the participation.


What seems to be missing from the whole discussion is any kind of contemporaneous references to what the founders meant when they said "natural born citizen". While it was never covered explicitly in the Constitutional Convention, or Madison's notes thereof, it was in fact written about by one of the early patriots.

So who was David Ramsay?

B. 1749, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, D. 1815

Physician and historian, a delegate to the South Carolina legislature, captured by the British and spending a year in jail, he later served on the Continental Congress.

He was related through his marriages to at least two of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and two of the signers to the Constitution, and no doubt was personally familiar with many more of the founders.

Pre-eminently he was a historian, composing a two volume "The History of the American Revolution", a few other historical texts, and various tracts and abstracts.

This tract is called " A Dissertation on the Manner of Acquiring the Character and Privileges of a Citizen of the United States"

I searched up and down on the web to find either a text version or a PDF version with the textual layer, but nope - zippo - nada.

So I spent a whole lot of time transcribing the tract into HTML. I have tried to be as entirely accurate as possible, all punctuation, capitalization, spelling and italics are as they were in the original.

The pertinent section I have taken the liberty of underlining.

It is not overly long, but he sometimes sounds a bit longwinded, perhaps to his excessive use of commas.

So come to your own conclusions. It is important to note that Ramsay was not a political theorist so much, but was a historian, so he's not speaking so much about how he would like things to be, he is trying to describe things accurately.

Read the rest here: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2719264/posts

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