By Emma L. Nelson author of Frederick Hill: The Life and Lessons of a Patriot for Children and Adults (Second Edition) from which this article was derived Copyright©2016 Emma L. Nelson1-16-16
The great men who created our Constitution were very worried about someone becoming president of the United States, in the future, who would potentially not be loyal to the country. It was John Jay, who later became the first Chief Justice of the United States, who convinced the Constitutional Convention to add the word “natural” to the words “born citizen” in the draft of the Constitution. Being a “natural born citizen” became one of the requirements for qualifying to be president when John Jay’s recommendation was approved unanimously in the Convention.
The word “natural” refers to the citizenship status of the parents by means of natural law. The word “natural” was added to the words “born citizen” to ensure that both parents of any future president would be citizens of our country at the time of the birth of the future president.
Some people say that the term “natural born citizen” was not defined in the Constitution, so its actual meaning is not known. The definition is very clear, however, to anyone who understands natural law, and it will always be clear, even in the future.
The delegates participating in the Constitutional Convention were very familiar with the concept of natural law from reading and discussing a book called The Law of Nations*, which was written in French by a Swiss legal scholar named Emmerich de Vattel. In that book, which was read in French and followed by the delegates, it was clearly stated that “natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens.” In only that one circumstance would no positive law be required to determine the citizenship status of the individual. That person would naturally be a citizen of the country, and thus a “natural born citizen.”
John Jay and the other early leaders were worried about someone becoming president of our country, and commander of all of our military, who was born of parents who were not citizens of the United States. If that happened the future president would then have divided loyalties and could favor other interests rather than the interests of the citizens of the United States.
It would not be surprising if someday the people lose interest in following the Constitution strictly on this matter, but that would be dangerous.
If someone would become president who is not a “natural born citizen,” there could be a takeover of our government by an enemy of our country, and that could mean that freedom would disappear, and that our wonderful country would be “transformed” beyond recognition.
*Vattel, Emmerich de. Le droit des gens (The Law of Nations). Editor: Charles W. F. Dumas. Amsterdam: Chez E. van Harrevelt, 1775.