How the Founding Fathers understood U.S. citizenship
In the decades before the 14th Amendment, how did the new nation wrestle with questions of blood and birthright?
But go back about a century to the 1780s, and the definition of U.S. citizenship seems less well defined. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not specifically define citizenship, but they do mention it. In Article I, citizenship is a requirement for holding legislative office. Article II states: “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution” may be eligible for president. The Founders clearly had an idea of what citizenship meant but opted not to spell it out.
Federalists like Alexander Hamilton and anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry may not have agreed on much when crafting the Constitution, but they did share a common,