“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
Recently, a Mr. TJ McCann showed up at this blog (in the comments section of the post giving my reaction to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s original “birther” press conference back in July, claiming to have great knowledge and authority in his opinion on the meaning of the term “natural born citizen.”
Mr. McCann has written a paper which makes certain claims that have been discussed in times past on this blog. He is of the opinion that his position is absolutely true, and that those who disbelieve the claim that it takes two citizen parents to make a natural born citizen know nothing at all about the issue.
And he would like to debate that proposition.
I won’t go into all of the discussion that’s taken place so far — it’s available in the comments section of that article, as there has been no way to get Mr. McCann to actually read the relevant contents of this site, and get him to post in any thread other than that one.
He did, however, propose that a separate thread be set up where he and I could engage in a debate.
I retired from the “natural born citizen” claims in July, having satisfied myself that I had conducted a thorough survey of the legal, historical and Constitutional meaning of the term, and had addressed every significant claim that I could find on the subject. And at this point, I have other things I am trying to accomplish, and really don’t have much time to any more devote to birtherism.
Slartibartfast, however, a long-time and distinguished participant at this site, has proposed the following to Mr. McCann:
“I would like to challenge you to an honest debate on the question of whether or not the grandfather clause of the Constitution has ever been used and, in particular, how the citizenship status of four men: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and St. George Tucker; changed throughout the course of their lives.
This, as John mentioned, has not been a topic addressed here (or, really, anywhere else that I’m aware of) and it is only peripherally related to the issue of President Obama’s eligibility, so it is as innocuous and self-contained a topic as we are likely to find and neither of us has much of a head start (although I have spent some time thinking about it, I’ve never done any research).
McCann has been very clear in his claim that the Founding Fathers required the “grandfather clause” (“or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution”) because none of the Founding Fathers were natural-born citizens of the United States.
To save you from having to click through to McCann’s claim, I will reproduce it here:
This shows how thoroughly you do not understand the subject matter.
Washington was not a natural born citizen. Not only was Washington not born on American soil (as there was no United States), and his parents were not only not citizens of the United States, but rather SUBJECTS of the Crown, providing Washington with undelible allegiance to the Crown from birth. This is why Washington and the other signers of the Declaration knew they must “hang together, or they would assuredly hang seperately”. Washington was guilty of treason against the Crown.
However to qualify under the Article II requirement, the founders included the “grandfather clause” allowing those who were citizens at the time of the signing to be President. This Grandfather Clause of Article II applied to the qualifications of 1) Washington, 2) Adams, 3) Jefferson, 4) Madison, 5) Monroe, 6) J.Q. Adams, 7) Jackson, and 9) Harrison, all of whom were born on British Soil, and to parents who were British subjects.
The first President not qualifying under the Grandfather Clause, but as a natural born citizen, is 8.) Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was born on Dec. 5, 1782, near Albany, NY, to two parents who were both U.S. Citizens. Every predecessor to Van Buren was born British Subjects and with British allegiance through the British subjecthood of their parents.
You should really read the Constitution sometime.
So I have decided to set up this thread that would facilitate debate on the matter. And how Mr. McCann fares on this particular topic could be an initial test of his scholarship in general. If he is able to prove his point, and — convincingly — factually and historically demonstrate that neither Washington, nor Adams, nor Jefferson, nor Adams, Monroe, etc., were natural born citizens, then he will have passed his initial test.
On the other hand, if he can’t convincingly prove the point factually from the historical and legal record, then I think it is safe to assume that Mr. McCann is a bloviating failure of a pretended historical and legal scholar who in fact doesn’t have the faintest clue what he’s talking about.
Sound reasonable? It sounds reasonable to me.
So let the discussion begin.