Both the Oxford English Dictionary and Webster's International Dictionary (3rd edition) define it as a person who becomes a citizen at birth (as opposed to becoming one later). They list this definition as going back to the 16th century. Blacks Law Dictionary (9th Edition) defines 'Natural Born Citizen' as "A person born within the jurisdiction of a national government."
The Constitution requires that a candidate for President of the United States be a "natural-born citizen". According to the US Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual: "the fact that someone is a natural born citizen (citizen at birth) pursuant to a statute does not necessarily imply that he or she is such a citizen for Constitutional purposes."
The majority opinion by Justice Horace Gray in United States v. Wong Kim Ark observed that:
The constitution nowhere defines the meaning of these words ["citizen" and "natural born citizen"], either by way of inclusion or of exclusion, except in so far as this is done by the affirmative declaration that 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'
Want DP delivered to your inbox daily? Subscribe here: