CDR Kerchner (Ret)'s Blog

September 17, 2013

Constitution Day – 17 Sep 2013: A Lesson from History. Is Being a Born Citizen of the United States Sufficient Citizenship Status to be President? The Founders and Framers Emphatically Decided It Was Not! | by CDR Charles Kerchner (Ret)

Constitution Day – 17 Sep 2013: A Lesson from History. Is Being Born a Citizen (Citizen at/by Birth) of the United States of Sufficient Citizenship Status to be President of the United States and Commander in Chief of Our Military? The Founders and Framers Emphatically Decided … It Was Not!

By: CDR Charles F. Kerchner, Jr., (Retired)
17 September 2013 – Constitution Day

During the process of developing a new U.S. Constitution Alexander Hamilton submitted a suggested draft for a Constitution on June 18, 1787. At some point, he also suggested to the framers a proposal for the qualification requirements in Article II as to the necessary Citizenship status for the office of President and Commander in Chief of the Military.

Alexander Hamilton’s suggested presidential eligibility clause:

“No person shall be eligible to the office of President of the United States unless he be now a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States.”

Many of the founders and framers had a fear of foreign influence on the person who would in the future be President of the United States since this particular office was singularly and uniquely powerful under the proposed new Constitution. The President was also to be the Commander in Chief of the military. This fear of foreign influence on a future President and Commander in Chief was particularly strongly felt by John Jay, who later became the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He felt so strongly about the issue of potential foreign influence that he took it upon himself to draft a letter to General George Washington, the presiding officer of the Constitutional Convention, recommending/hinting that the framers should strengthen the Citizenship requirements. John Jay was an avid reader and proponent of natural law and particularly Vattel’s codification of Natural Law and the Law of Nations. In his letter to Washington he said that the Citizenship requirement for the office of the commander of our armies should contain a “strong check” against foreign influence and he recommended to Washington that the command of the military be open only to a “natural born Citizen”. Thus Jay did not agree that simply being a “born Citizen” or “born a Citizen” was sufficient enough protection from foreign influence in the singular most powerful office in the new form of government. He wanted another adjective added to the eligibility clause, i.e., ‘natural’. And that word natural goes to the Citizenship status of one’s parents, both of them, when their child is born, as per natural law.

The below is the relevant proposed change language from Jay’s letter which he proposed to strengthen the citizenship requirements in Article II and to require more than just being a “born Citizen” of the United States to serve as a future Commander in Chief and President.

John Jay wrote in a letter to George Washington dated 25 Jul 1787:

“Permit me to hint, whether it would be wise and seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government; and to declare expressly that the Commander in Chief of the American army shall not be given to nor devolve on, any but a natural born Citizen. “

See a transcription of Jay’s letter to Washington at this link. This letter from Jay was written on July 25, 1787. General Washington passed on the recommendation from Jay to the convention and it was adopted in the final draft and was accepted adding the adjective “natural” making it “natural born Citizen of the United States” for future Presidents and Commanders in Chief of the military, rather than Hamilton’s proposed “born a Citizen”. Thus Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, the fundamental law of our nation reads:

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of U.S. Constitution as adopted 17 Sep 1787:

“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.”

There you have the crux of the issue now before the nation and the answer.

Hamilton’s suggested presidential citizenship eligibility requirement was that a Citizen simply had to be ‘born a Citizen’ of the USA, i.e., a Citizen by Birth. But that citizenship status was rejected by the framers as insufficient. Instead of allowing any person “born a citizen” to be President and Commander of the military, the framers chose to adopt the more stringent requirement recommended by John Jay, i.e., requiring the Citizen to be a “natural born Citizen“, to block any chance of the person with foreign allegiances or claims on their allegiance at birth from becoming President and Commander of the Military. No person having any foreign influence or claim of allegiance on them at birth could serve as a future President. The person must be a “natural born citizen” with unity of citizenship and sole allegiance to the United States at birth.

Jay’s proposal recommended clause added the additional adjective before “born Citizen” that was proposed by Hamilton. And that word and adjective “natural” means something special from the laws of nature that modifies just being born a Citizen of the USA such as being simply born on the soil of the United States. Natural means from nature by the facts of nature of one’s birth. Not created retroactively after the fact by a man-made law. A natural born Citizen needs no man-made law to bestow Citizenship on them. The added adjective “natural” comes from Natural Law which is recognized the world over as universal law and which is the foundation of the Law of Nations which was codified by Vattel in 1758 in his preeminent legal treatise used by the founders, The Law of Nations or Principles of Natural Law. In Vol.1 Chapter 19 of Vattel’s Law of Nations, the “Des citoyens et naturels“, Vattel in Section 212 explains to us (the French term “naturels” was translated to English in 1781 in the Journal of the Continental Congress and in the 1797 English edition of Vattel), to tell us that the “natural born Citizens” are those born in the country to parents (plural) who are Citizens of the country when their child is born. These are the natural Citizens of the nation per universal principles of natural law for which no man-made law is necessary to explain or justify. Such a person, a natural born Citizen, is born with unity of Citizenship and sole allegiance at birth due to having been both born on the soil AND being born to two Citizen parents. The person who would be President must be a second generation American with no foreign claims of allegiance on them at birth under the law of nations and natural law, the child of two Citizens and born in the USA. This is a much stronger check to foreign influence than simply being born a Citizen say on the soil of the USA but with one or the other parent being a foreigner, such as is the case of Obama. The situation with Obama’s birth Citizenship status is exactly the problem that the founders and framers did not want. They did not want the child of a foreign national, non-U.S. citizen serving as President and Commander of our military. This was a national security concern to them. And it is a national security concern now.

Another founder of our nation and great historian of the American Revolution named David Ramsay contemporaneously defined in a 1789 essay what the term “natural born Citizen” means. Read a copy of Ramsay’s original dissertation at this link. Other research papers from history on the term “natural born Citizen” published long before the current controversy was created by the 2008 election debacle can be read at this link. The paper by Breckenridge Long in 1916 is a particularly good one.

Barack Hussein Obama II may or may not be a born Citizen of the USA depending on what the 1961 contemporaneous birth registration documents sealed in Hawaii reveal. And Americans have good reason to be greatly concerned about the truth as to where he was physically born as opposed to where his birth may have been falsely registered by his maternal grandmother as occurring in Hawaii as this Catalog of Evidence details. But he can never be a “natural born Citizen of the United States” since his father was a foreigner, a British Subject who was never a U.S. Citizen and was not even an immigrant to the USA. Since his father was a British Subject and not a U.S. Citizen when Obama was born, Obama was born a British Subject. The founders and framers are probably rolling over in their graves knowing this person was sworn in as the putative President and Commander of our military.

The founders rejected acquisition of Citizenship by birth on the soil without consideration as to who were the parents. That is clear from the history and evolution of the writing the eligibility clause in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5, which specifies who can be President and Commander in Chief of the military.

So, can a “born Citizen” be President of the USA? The answer is a resounding NO per the founders and framers. Being a “born Citizen the United States” is a necessary but NOT sufficient part of being a “natural born Citizen of the United States”. Natural born Citizens are a subset of “born Citizens (citizens at birth)” but not all “born Citizens (citizens at birth)” are “natural born Citizens”:  Only a “natural born Citizen” can be the President of the USA and Commander in Chief of our military. Obama is not a natural born Citizen of the USA and is thus constitutionally not eligible (to constitutional standards) to serve as President and Commander in Chief of the military.

SBTP Dolly Madison Quote du Jour,
” The Constitution was signed  September 17, 1787, by 39 brave men who changed the world.”


CDR Charles Kerchner (Ret)

P.S. Here is a chart which lists and explains the five (5) Citizenship terms used in the U.S. Constitution.
P.P.S. Being a “born Citizen” or “Citizen at Birth” is not identically the same as a being a “natural born Citizen”.
P.P.S. Also read this essay regarding the legal term of art “natural born Citizen” and basic logic, i.e., trees are plants but not all plants are trees.  Natural born Citizens are a subset of “born Citizens (citizens at birth)” but not all “born Citizens (citizens at birth)” are “natural born Citizens”: … AND …


  1. Thank you for this rundown of the facts of the matter, CDR Kerchner.

    Please continue to keep this info ‘out there’. The American people must NOT be able to hide behind the excuse that “I didn’t know”. Why the hell didn’t you, Joe and Jill Citizen? The info was readily available on the Internet. A good example being the site of CDR Charles Kerchner (Ret).

    Blessings on you, especially on this Constitution Day.

    Comment by kibitzer3 — September 17, 2013 @ 3:15 am

  2. Reblogged this on

    Comment by Brittius — September 17, 2013 @ 5:06 am

  3. Alexander Hamilton – Attended the Convention on May 18; left June 29; was in New York after July 2; appears to have been in Philadelphia on July 13; attended Convention August 13; was in New York August 20–September 2.[1]

    June 18 – Hamilton delivered his plan in a speech that “occupied in the delivery between five and six hours” This is the speech that led to the famous charge that Hamilton advocated a monarchial system. This was denied, and it was replied, that “he proposed a system composed of three branches, an assembly, a senate, and a governor.”[2] There are several versions copied down, all of which specify the Executive “to be a governor elected, during good behavior, by electors chosen by the people in the election districts” (with slight variations in wording).

    Hamilton’s more detailed plan given to Madison at the close of the Convention, states in Article IX § 1, No person shall be eligible to the office of President of the United States unless he be now a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States.[3]

    This plan differs from that presented June 18.

    According to a letter[4], Hamilton was chagrined when his plan (June 18) failed and he left the House in disgust (June 29), he returned however on a subsequent day (July 13?, August 13?) and delivered his sentiments in writing, then went to New York (August 20-September 2).

    There is no record of any presentation by Hamilton on July 13 or August 13, although this does not rule out any written transmittal. If a written plan was delivered it may be lost.

    Hamilton claimed the detailed plan given to Madison delineated the Constitution which he would have wished to be proposed by the Convention: He had stated the principles of it in the course of the deliberations.[5] It is true that he proposed a system composed of three branches, an assembly, a senate, and a governor. Although details vary it is the general structure of the government adopted. The detailed plan may have been political cover[6].

    There is no way to know if any delegates knew of Hamilton’s “born a Citizen” idea. The record does not support any claim that they did.

    [Blog editor’s note to the above sentence: The circumstantial evidence would indicate that those at the convention were considering a lesser than “natural born Citizen” citizenship requirement for the position of commander and chief and president. Even those not at the convention must have known that issue was under discussion since John Jay, who was not at the convention, must have heard about it and sent the letter to the president of the convention, General George Washington, suggesting that a “strong check” against foreign influence on the office of president and commander in chief be the requirement that only a “natural-born Citizen” could hold that office. It is quite obvious that the delegates and those following things from afar via rumors and leaks were quite concerned about the chief executive position for the new nation and who would be eligible to that office. Citizen, born a Citizen, and natural born Citizen were all suggested and with John Jay’s reasoning about keeping out all foreign influence by birth in suggesting natural born Citizen, and General Washington’s concurrence it was obviously accepted and adopted with little or no debate as a “no-brainer” by the delegates. It is only now in the 21st century that major party DC establishment type political leaders and their backers are rationalizing and trying to change the true meaning, true intent, and true purpose of the “natural born Citizen” clause in our Constitution for party politics political expediency to run attractive charismatic non-natural born Citizen candidates since the political parties know it would very difficult to get it removed properly and legally via the amendment process. To undermine the natural born Citizen clause also fits in with the Progressive’s agenda to undermine the entire Constitution, including many of our unalienable rights listed in the Bill of Rights. We cannot let this happen and a true look at history and events surrounding the founding and framing of our Constitution would have the founders and framers rolling over in their graves if they see what is happening now to Article II Section 1 Clause 5, the presidential eligibility clause. There is a way to change the Constitution. Amend it. Don’t ignore it or parts of it or undermine it or change the original intent and purpose for using very specific words written into our Constitution. It is ludicrous to think that the founders and framers, with the insertion of the natural born Citizen clause for who could command our military and be president once the founding generation had passed away, would have wanted or permitted a person born as a British Subject (which Obama was and still is) to be sitting in the office of President and Commander-in-Chief. End of blog editor’s comment]

    P.S. The anonymous letter writer claims that Commodore Nicholson had it confirmed to him by Abraham Baldwin (delegate from Georgia) that after Hamilton’s plan failed Hamilton left and “returned however on a subsequent day, delivered [his] sentiments in writing, & Came off to New York”

    An investigation of Baldwin’s papers might provide some clues as to whether Hamilton did supply a written plan upon his return (July 13 or August 13), and if so what the contents of that plan were.

    It would be interesting also to determine the identity of the anonymous letter writer.





    [4] Anonymous Letter to Alexander Hamilton. New York Augt. 30th. 1793

    A publication appeared some time since in Greenleaf’s paper, charging you with having moved in Convention that the Goverment of the United States should be by a King, Lords & Commons–I took some pains to discover the author of that piece, but without success — But a conversation lately happened between Comodore Nicholson & Mr. Leonard Bleeker, in the hearing of others, in which the Commodore said; he had read the piece before alluded to, but doubted the truth of it until it was lately confirmed by Mr. Abraham Baldwin, who was also a member of the Convention–This Mr. Baldwin did publicly in a pretty large company at the Commodores own Table. He said your motion was seconded by Mr. Gover Morris & that you was so chagrined when it failed that you left the House in disgust; That you returned however on a subsequent day, delivered your sentiments in writing, & Came off to New york, declaring you intermeddle no farther in the matter — Notwithstanding you returned, & assented to the Constitution as it is — This writing he suggested contained your Ideas of the kind of Government proper to be adopted — In repeating from other persons, words are often changed; but the foregoing is the substance of what the Commodore reports Mr. Baldwin to have said — I leave to yourself the expediency of taking any notice of it.


    [6] Jared Sparks visit to James Madison, April 25th, 1830

    recounts an anecdote

    It is well known that Hamilton inclined to a less democratical form of government than the one that was adopted, although he was a zealous friend of the Constitution in its present shape after it had received the sanction of the Convention. He considered it less perfect than it might have been, yet he thought it an immense improvement on the old confederation. He drew up a plan in accordance with his own views, which he put into the hands of Mr. Madison, who took a copy of it, and returned the original to the author, telling him at the same time that he had preserved a copy. Mr. Madison says he knew not Hamilton’s motive for doing this, unless it was for the purpose of securing a written record of his views, which might afford a ready confutation of any future false statements respecting them.

    Comment by nativeversusnatural — September 24, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

  4. I agree that “natural born citizen” was chosen for its specific and undoubted meaning and that Obama, not having been born in the US with parental US citizenship, is not a natural born citizen and is therefore ineligible.

    My concern is with the claims regarding Hamilton’s suggested presidential eligibility clause:

    “No person shall be eligible to the office of President of the United States unless he be now a Citizen of one of the States, or hereafter be born a Citizen of the United States.”

    This was not in the suggested draft for a Constitution which he submitted to the Convention on June 18, 1787.

    [Editor’s note: I am not saying it was part of the original draft constitution Hamilton submitted early on. He sent a letter suggesting the “born a Citizen” requirement later on and it was likely being communicated by him back channel, etc. You have to remember that while the meetings of the convention delegates were being held in closed door secrecy, they were not sequestered. And as with all things political, things were discussed outside those closed door meetings. Rumors swirled and things were leaked to supporters not at the convention. Hamilton was trying to influence the content of the new Constitution in many ways. I believe Jay got wind of this and wanted to get his two cents in too. That is why Jay wrote his letter. And the framers clearly rejected any notion that one only had to be a Citizen, born a Citizen, etc., and instead chose “natural born Citizen” per Jay’s suggestion. Hamilton may have attempted to get that reversed to born a Citizen through his contacts with the convention. We will never know those details for certain. All we know is Hamilton tried and failed to have “born a Citizen” to be the only citizenship requirement for POTUS and CINC. To me it was a “no-brainer” to the founders and framers that they would only trust the future command of the military to a natural born Citizen, one born with with sole allegiance and unity of citizenship to the USA. Dual Citizens need not apply in the future to be Pres and Commander of the Military. That was the framers intent and the purpose of the natural born Citizen clause in Article II. To me it is only common sense that the qualifications for who could be president and commander of our military forces was being discussed, even if we cannot find debates about it. And it is very obvious what Hamilton had suggested at whatever point in time he suggested it and however many ways he attempted to influence this part of the Constitution and also we know what Jay suggested to Washington, AND we know whose suggestion was accepted and why, i.e., to provide a strong check on foreign influence by birth on the person who would be allowed to be president and commander of the military once the founding generation was gone. The founding generation had the grandfathered clause necessitating that they only be a Citizen. I think we are in agreement.]

    Comment by nativeversusnatural — September 24, 2013 @ 7:29 pm

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