Jefferson On Citizenship Under A Republican Form Of Government

 Thomas Jefferson served in the Virginia legislature from 1776 until his election as Governor in 1779. It was Jefferson that drafted the legislation that passed in the Congress of Virginia on June 28, 1776 declaring their independence from Great Britain. In June of 1783, Jefferson was appointed to the Congress of the Confederation & was sent to France to serve as the US Minister. This left Jefferson unable to be physically in attendance at the Philadelphia convention, thus he stayed informed and involved through his correspondence with James Madison. Now, let us begin this short visit back into the year of 1803 and the wisdom & patriotism of Thomas Jefferson from his time in the Virginia state legislature…

But are there no inconveniences to be thrown into the scale against the advantage expected from a multiplication of numbers by the importation of-foreigners ? It is for the happiness of those united in society to harmonize as much as possible in matters which they must of necessity transact together. Civil government being the sole object of forming societies, its administration must be conducted by common consent. Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours, perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet, from such, we are to expect: the greatest number, of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth ; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for.an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temperate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its directions, and render it a heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.

One has to remember that at the time of the Declaration, there was no formal federal government set up thus all laws pertaining to citizenship & immigration was regulated by the individual states with each of them adopting, regulating & enforcing their own individual laws in this area. Liberals today, including those of the Republican & conservative factions, claim that the States merely substituted the word ‘subject’ for the word ‘citizen’ when writing the new laws after the Declaration of Independence. Read & learn the truth through Jefferson himself as to which principles of the English constitution they rejected thus adopting better laws based on natural rights & natural reason…

Many of the laws which were in force during the monarchy being relative merely to that form of government, or inculcating principles inconsistent with republicanism, the first assembly which met after the establishment of the commonwealth appointed a committee to revise the whole code, to reduce it into proper form and volume, and report it to the assembly. This work has been executed by three gentlemen, and reported ; but probably will not be taken up till a restoration of peace shall leave to the legislature leisure to go through such a work;.

The plan of the revisal was this. The common law of England, by which is meant, that part of the English law which was anterior to the date of the oldest statutes extant, is made the basis of the work. It was thought dangerous to attempt to reduce it to a text: it was therefore left to be collected from the usual monuments of it. Necessary-alterations in ‘that, and , so much of the whole body of the British statutes, and of acts of assembly, as were thought proper to be retained, were digested into 126 new acts, in which simplicity of style was aimed at, as far as was safe. The following are the most remarkable alterations proposed :

To change the rules of descent, so as that the lands of any person dying intestate shall be divisable equally among all his children, or other representatives, in equal degree.

To make slaves distributable among the next of kin, as other movables.

To have all public expenses, whether of the general treasury, or of a parish or county, (as for the maintenance of the poor, building bridges, court-houses, & etc.) supplied by assessments on the citizens, in proportion to their property.

To hire undertakers for keeping the public roads in repair, and indemnify individuals thro’ whose lands new roads shall be opened.

To define with precision the rules whereby aliens should become citizens, and citizens make themselves aliens.

To establish religious freedom on the broadest bottom. (snip)

Hmm, to define with precision the rules whereby aliens should become citizens? So what was the law they enacted?

Thomas Jefferson, A Bill Declaring Who Shall Be Deemed Citizens Of This Commonwealth

May 1779Virginia Papers 2:476–78

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that all white persons born within the territory of this commonwealth and all who have resided therein two years next before the passing of this act, and all who shall hereafter migrate into the same; and shall before any court of record give satisfactory proof by their own oath or affirmation, that they intend to reside therein, and moreover shall give assurance of fidelity to the commonwealth; and all infants wheresoever born, whose father, if living, or otherwise, whose mother was, a citizen at the time of their birth, or who migrate hither, their father, if living, or otherwise their mother becoming a citizen, or who migrate hither without father or mother, shall be deemed citizens of this commonwealth, until they relinquish that character in manner as herein after expressed: And all others not being citizens of any the United States of America, shall be deemed aliens.

The clerk of the court shall enter such oath of record, and give the person taking the same a certificate thereof, for which he shall receive the fee of one dollar. And in order to preserve to the citizens of this commonwealth, that natural right, which all men have of relinquishing the country, in which birth, or other accident may have thrown them, and, seeking subsistance and happiness wheresoever they may be able, or may hope to find them: And to declare unequivocably what circumstances shall be deemed evidence of an intention in any citizen to exercise that right, it is enacted and declared, that whensoever any citizen of this commonwealth, shall by word of mouth in the presence of the court of the county, wherein he resides, or of the General Court, or by deed in writing, under his hand and seal, executed in the presence of three witnesses, and by them proved in either of the said courts, openly declare to the same court, that he relinquishes the character of a citizen, and shall depart the commonwealth; or whensoever he shall without such declaration depart the commonwealth and enter into the service of any other state, not in enmity with this, or any other of the United States of America, or do any act whereby he shall become a subject or citizen of such state, such person shall be considered as having exercised his natural right of expatriating himself, and shall be deemed no citizen of this commonwealth from the time of his departure.

So there you have it. Jefferson clearly declaring that ‘subject’ was not equivalent to ‘citizen’ and thus the feudal law of perpetual allegiance from birth on the soil was thereby abolished and replaced with the law of natural right & natural reason. Do you really think the states who had cast off the chains of feudal doctrine of perpetual allegiance would have agreed to a return to it under the federal constitution? According to all the early philosophers as well as the framers such as Wilson, reason should be the basis in which all laws should be written & that is the crux of interpreting the constitution & the original intent of the framers. Without natural right & natural reason, there can be no just law.

James Wilson:

The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it. Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.

Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other. The divine law, as discovered by reason and the moral sense, forms an essential part of both.

The law of nature is immutable; not by the effect of an arbitrary disposition, but because it has its foundation in the nature, constitution, and mutual relations of men and things. The law of nature is universal. For it is true, not only that all men are equally subject to the command of their Maker; but it is true also, that the law of nature, having its foundation in the constitution and state of man, has an essential fitness for all mankind, and binds them without distinction

The most important consequence of marriage is, that the husband and the wife become in law only one person… Upon this principle of union, almost all the other legal consequences of marriage depend. This principle, sublime and refined, deserves to be viewed and examined on every side.

[T]hat important and respectable, though small and sometimes neglected establishment, which is denominated a family…[The family is] the principle of the community; it is that seminary, on which the commonwealth, for its manners as well as its numbers, must ultimately depend. As its establishment is the source, so its happiness is the end, of every institution of government, which is wise and good

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