Ourselves and Our Posterity

The Preamble to the United States Constitution reads:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Some modern navtivists have argued that this does not include naturalized citizens, but only includes the lineal descendants of the signatories, their bodily heirs, and the bodily heirs (but not adopted children nor assigns) of those citizen living in the United States at the time of the ratification of the Constitution.

Col Kratman in this column condemns this argument as not in keeping with history, law, logic, or linguistics.


He is correct. The argument makes no sense on any terms.

In terms of logic, had the Founders intended to forbid naturalization, they would have done so. Had they wished naturalized citizens not to enjoy the same rights as the native born, again, they would have done so.

Indeed in one case and one only they did: any citizen not born a citizen cannot stand for the office of President. Both Senators and Representatives must be citizens for a certain number of years, but there is no requirement they be citizens from birth.

Had the document been speaking on behalf only of the native born and not naturalized citizens, it could not exist as a document, since, at the time it was written, not a single person was a native born citizen of the United States. Before this document was written there may well have been citizens of the several states, but no one was a member of the Union.

Had the document been speaking on behalf only of the native born and not naturalized citizens, the provisions of the how the Union was to be governed, the divisions of the Federal government into branches, and the Bill of Rights, would only apply to native-borns, and not to naturalized citizens, which means they would neither be counted in a census when apportioning representatives, nor be granted the franchise, nor protected by the First Amendment, etc.

Which makes no sense in any way, because then the naturalized citizens would not be citizens.

In terms of law, English law concerning naturalization is older than the United States, and the Common Law still binding to our modern courts has its roots and precedents here.

A naturalized citizen has all the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as a native born one for the same reason an adopted child has all the rights as a child born in lawful wedlock. The word posterity refers to all heirs not just bodily heirs.

In terms of history, if the blessings of liberty were meant by American law to be restricted to the bodily heirs of the original citizens present as if 4 July 1776, and to no one else, no slightest sign of this legal interpretation is present in the Federalist Papers, the private writings of any Founder, nor in the legal opinions of the Supreme Court or any lesser court from that day to this.

No one had ever interpreted the passage to restrict liberty to the physical heirs of the body of the persons then citizen, and no such interpretation has any support in any subsequent law, writing, declaration, document, legal opinion, or historical record.

Even the Dred Scott decision does not say that Congress lacks the power to naturalize foreigners.

As a practical matter, historical and genealogical records are insufficient to identify those persons and separate them from the remote descendants of persons naturalized on 5 July 1776, not to mention French in Louisiana, Spaniards in Florida and California, Texans and freed slaves. Several territories were brought into the Union after 1776, and included all the landowners in the territory, regardless of genealogy.

In terms of simple fairness, since every naturalized citizen since the dawn of the Republic was assured by the covenant of the law that he and his posterity would enjoy all the rights, privileges and duties as the native born, to now deprive these descendants of the impure bloodlines, even assuming it can be done, would be a retroactive abridgment of the previous covenant. It would be an ex post facto law.

In terms of language, the phrase in the preamble is unambiguous. The “our” in the “ourselves and our posterity” is the same group referred to as the “we” in “we the people of the United States.” Hence, by the plain meaning, “posterity” means “the heirs and descendants of the people of the United States.”

This includes naturalized citizens as well as native born citizens, because the process of naturalization makes one natural to the land, that is, a native, hence the term.

One can find many contemporary instances where the word ‘posterity’ was used at the time to mean ‘children’ or direct descendants, not one of which excluded adopted or naturalized descendants, and not one of which changes the legal definition of any of these terms.

In terms of pure folly, the argument that America is only meant for direct descendants of the Seed of England ignores that the greatest source of danger to our American Liberties comes precisely from this oldest bloodline: the children of the Massachusetts Bay and New York are all staunch Politically Correct limousine liberals and SJWs.

The strongest advocates I personally know of anti-American open-borders globalism have bloodlines reaching back to the Mayflower, and are clearly included as ‘posterity’ by a strict definition.

All the pro-American “Build A Wall” supporters I know, with one exception, come from Pennsylvania Dutch, or Irish or Italian or Catholic families who came here after 1776, or intermarried with such families.

The one exception is a staunchly pro-American D.A.R. member. She can trace her lineage back to pre-revolutionary America. But the nativists would exclude her, because her father was born Jewish.

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