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Jon Meacham: Allow non-native Americans to run for president

Donald Trump made me do it.  Those are not words I ever expected to say, but, as Margaret Thatcher once observed, it’s a funny old world. For several years, I — like, I suspect, many of you — have watched the nativist and irrational obsession with Barack Obama’s birth certificate with disdain, horror, bemusement — and then back to horror.  A lot of people thought that if you ignored the issue, it would go away.  But that doesn’t really work with crying children, and it surely hasn’t worked with the birther issue.Trump’s unserious showboating on the issue and Michelle Bachmann’s call for presidential candidates to “put their birth certificates on the table” drove me to do some long-delayed homework: why, exactly, did the framers decide that presidents and vice presidents had to be native-born citizens?  And what should we do about it now, in the 21st century? To be clear: Barack Obama was born in the United States in 1961, and he is fully eligible to be where he is.  Though I suspect there are a lot of days when he wonders why he wanted the job in the first place.

But that’s another story.  Little is known of the story of the native-born clause.  As reconstructed by Akhil Reed Amar of Yale,  the provision is rooted in the framers’ fears not of immigrants, who were allowed to hold any other federal office, but in anxieties about imported noblemen.

According to Amar, “In 1787, the more plausible scenario was that a foreign earl or duke would cross the Atlantic with immense wealth and a vast retinue and use his European riches to buy friends and power on a scale that virtually no American could match.”  Amar reports that “several months before the constitution was drafted … Confederation Congress President Nathaniel Gorham, had apparently written to Prince Henry of Prussia, a brother of Frederick the Great, to inquire whether the prince might consider coming to the new world to serve as a constitutional monarch.” I don’t know about you, but more than two centuries on I’m willing the roll the dice on a Prussian takeover.

If we were to repeal the clause, we would open the doors to the children of the new America, a nation that began to take shape when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Immigration Act of 1965.  Orrin Hatch suggested this almost seven years ago — he was thinking then of a possible Schwarzenegger bid — and you can imagine how far the initiative got. Amendments take time, but this one is worth the effort.

And just think: if it ever passes, we can call it the Trump Amendment.  And with that kind of branding, even the Donald might sign on.

Watch more “In Perspective” essays by Jon Meacham.

Watch the rest of the segments from this episode.

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  • Jon Meacham

    I learned a lot doing this piece for PBS on the birther issue, and thought you all might, too.

  • Corey

    Thanks! Very educational! :-)

  • Rtmurphy

    Our Constitution requires a President to be born in the USA and be at least 35 years old.

    I think it would be appropriate to change the Constitution to simply say a President will have to have been a citizen for 35 years. This would mean someone who came to the U.S. to attend college, or even graduate work, and became a citizen would be qualified to run–although they might have to wait until their late fifties to do so. I think the 35 year span would be adequate protection against “moles” or aspiring princes. And, obviously, anyone born here could run as early as age 35.

    I like it because it means that when an elementary school teacher tells her classroom that “anyone here can grow up to be President”, she’ll actually be telling the truth.

    Schwarzenegger was naturalized in 1983. He’s reach 35 years citizenship in 2018. He could run for President in 2020, at the age of 73–one year younger than John McCain is now.

  • Dea

    From what we have seen from ex-Presidents and various candidates, not to cite names here, I would like the Constitution to say “the President must have an IQ of at least 150″

  • Anonymous

    “the provision is rooted in the framers’ fears not of immigrants, who were allowed to hold any other federal office, but in anxieties about imported noblemen”

    What an odd thing to write. The “imported noblemen” would, upon arrival, become immigrants. The provision — which is entirely sensible — is to prevent a rich/powerful person becoming president either through his or her own efforts or, more importantly, through the machinations of a foreign power.

  • Petergardiner1408

    Can someone please tell me what the Constitution really says. I thought it said “natural” born not “native” born. To my mind while the latter means born in the USA, the former means “not naturalized” or a citizen at birth. Children born outside the US to a couple where at least one parent is a US citizen and where the birth is legally registered at the relevant US Embassy or Consulate within a specified period of time is recognized as a US citizen from birth and allowed as far as I understood to all the rights and privileges accorded to the same, including becoming President.

  • rsc

    Frankly, there are a hundred reasons to not change. Although I like this alternative. Would we want someone who could have never lived a day here, or know our culture- to run this country? Obviously not, nor would they be electable… probably. I could list 5 reasons against for every 1 for.
    There never was a good reason in this piece to change. I am not a natural born citizen of many places I can never be president, thats life.
    RTmurphys idea is one that has merit, but the Arnold example may cripple even this.

  • Lonnie

    More liberal garbage. Let me guess this is a part of the living breathing part of the constitution?
    The “progressive” denigration of this nation never ceases to amaze me.
    So much constraints and laws in this country. We’re living in a soft tyranny folks.

  • Rocky

    No question that Arnold Schwartznegger would have been a much more qualified candidate than George W. Bush. We will be paying for the shrub’s mistakes for decades to come. Let’s hope the Republic survives.

  • cuhead

    I read “immigrant” as a person who has come to the country with the desire and intent to be a part of it, versus a tyrant who wants to take it over.

    Birth on American soil was something that many of the Founders did not have, and I doubt anyone would argue that they were not Americans.

  • ETS

    Are you kidding me? Amending the Constitution is obviously Constitutional; it’s explicitly spelled out in Article Five (and it’s clearly been done 27 times since the Constitution was adopted). It’s very difficult, and for good reason, but expressly lawful nonetheless.

    Meacham’s call to action has nothing to do with the legal philosophy that regards the Constitution as “living.” The strictest originalist immediately grants that the Constitution can be amended.

    So, your point is completely nonsensical. Amending the Constitution does not throw the rule of law out the window – it is, again, legal. Ironically, you aren’t much for “constraints and laws in this country.” You don’t have a clue what they are – you aren’t even familiar with foundational legal texts, like the Constitution – and when other people invoke legal actions, you decry them.

  • Cub fan

    We already have and his name is Barry Sotero.

  • hunter

    Good luck with your reconstructionist nonsense. The framers’ liberalism represents the core values of the country and gave us a living document. They implied freedom of speech, religion, self protection (yeah, gun ownership- ha!), association (yeah, gay and interracial marriages, even – gasp – unions), and anything but establishment tyranny. You must wet your conservative pants every time anyone in the center-right, and believe me that includes Jon Meacham, says anything reasonable. God-forbid that muscular leftist policies that actually serve ordinary people take hold. That would be then end of plutocratic America, and you might just see that trusting fellow citizens trumps hoping that corporations uphold our interests. After the last several years, do you really still believe what’s good for business is really good for America, and the government is out to screw us?

    Just to clarify, “soft tyranny” and “constraints” provide more dog-whistle gristle to prove your authoritarian stance. If you wanted to be a subject, you were born in the wrong place and time, and the rest of us are not about to let about 13 percent hardcore teabaggers like yourself subject us to minority rule.

  • Michael

    same old typical trash baggie comment.can you state something factual.

  • hunter


    So you would be fine with somebody born in Panama, eh?

  • Anonymous

    Ahnuld is just an example of the new class of “noblemen”.

    If we’re going to talk about changing the Constitutional requirements for being President, I’d like to suggest that the President Elects be required to give up all their wealth before their inauguration, and to live on nothing but their Presidential salary and pension for the rest of their lives.

  • James

    The issue is not so much of birth as it is transparency. Your “piece” demonstrates that you have learned little, and that you are merely a shill for the left masquerading as a “journalist”.

  • Todd Graves

    NOT ! It is bad enough we let republican tea terrorist become president !

  • Framptonscamel

    If you are not born on US soil, you cannot be president. Even a child born in another country to two full American citizen parents, given a US certificate of foreign birth by the consulate, cannot be president. That should be changed.

  • Anonymous

    We don’t need to worry about importing Nobles… we have our own and they already buy and sell our politicians with ease.

  • Guest88

    Its Soetoro.

  • Anonymous

    By your own logic, John McCain would also be ineligible as he was born in Panama. That doesn’t seem right. Peter’s comment seems much more plausible, so even if the birthers believe Obama was born in Kenya (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary), he just as eligible as his mother was American.

  • Zmcfah

    You as well as Meacham are brain dead. The constitution says if one parent is a US citizen and has lived in the US the prior ten years than you can be born anywhere in the world and you are a natural born American citizen and can run for president when you turn 35. So, you show your stupidity regarding Constitution because you have never read it. So, the birther crap is moot, he is a citizen even if he was born in Kenya which he wasn’t. No where in the constlitution does it say you have to be born in the US, Google it.

  • Zmcfah

    You are dead wrong. Anyone having one parent as a citizen and having lived the prior 10 years in the US can be born anywhere in the world. Google it or read the constitution.

  • Carlos

    That ish ain’t gonna fly. And honestly, born and bred in the USA , with the exception of the military, etc..

  • Carlos

    That ish ain’t gonna fly. And honestly, born and bred in the USA -ONLY as President (with the exception of the military, traveling pregnant, etc..

  • john

    Considering how little our born in the USA Presidents care about the US, I say go for it. Being born here is clearly irrelevant.

  • Zinfendale

    Half of our Congress already holds dual citizenship, and only God knows where their true allegiance lies. The LAST thing we need is a president who’ll run the country for the benefit of a foreign nation. “No man can serve two masters”,

  • Richardslmc

    John McCain was born on an American Naval base which is soveriegn U.S. territory. That is the difference.

  • William

    That’s all we need. Let another member of Al-Queda be president after we get rid of obama.

  • Andys65

    The best reply for this post. Well said it makes perfect sense. A person as long as he is a citizen of 35 years can run for president. There are lots and lots of great immigrants who are very smart, capable and true Americans and more patriotic than many “natural borns”. They would make perfect candidates. But there is one BIG problem. We have plenty of immigrant hatred rooted. xenophobia is alive and well. Both democrats and republicans. Many rednecks and racists out there. Including black people many of whom have prejudice against immigrants. Not just Mexicans, but lots of jealousy against well-off Asian immigrants. It is a sad fact. It is the reality. It will be very hard to pass such a measure, unless there is a viable republican immigrant candidate (not Arnold) who is from the far right and who can appease to the glen becks of the world. Let’s hope that day will come. It will be good for America.

  • artiepants

    What is the difference if the Supreme Court allows foreign companies to contribute all they want to American political campaigns, aren’t then foreign governments potentially running American government?

    If Al Quida incorporates itself, and donates to a campaign fund for any candidate, wouldn’t that candidate be potentially influenced by Al Qida? Please pardon the spelling of the terrorist group, even Fire Fox didn’t know how to spell it.

  • Jangrehus

    I have always thought of myself as a natural born US citizen even tho I was born in Germany after WWII in a German hospital to an US serviceman and his US wife. And I always was told I could run for President.

  • D

    Google “red herring”

  • D

    Can you please cite your sources on this “half of our Congress already holds dual citizenship” claim.

  • D

    Actually, he was born on a military base in the Canal Zone, which is not sovereign territory (unlike embassy land)–air bases and the Canal Zone are/were occupied by treaty for a specific period of time.

  • Woody Brown

    Well it’s about time that someone who can publish has stated this!

    It ought to be unconstitutional that someone as red, white and blue as American action hero and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is prohibited from running for President.

    I am 100% American, back to the Colonial Days…while overseas on business with my wife however, our daughter happened to be born in Amsterdam. Because I’m not in the military, my child couldn’t run for President–regardless of what her qualifications might one day become. Imagine my daughter sitting in class while the teacher talks-up that every American has an equal opportunity to become whatever they’d like to be…a lawyer, an actress, a CEO, President–Oops, not my kid, she came a month early while we were busy bring foreign income into the good ol’ U.S. of A.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone ought be able to run for President. Who’s to say that Nicolas Sarkozy couldn’t be a better job using his fresh eyes and objective outsider’s perspective? Einstein, Gandhi and the Dalai Lama ought to have had a shot at being President.

    In the land of the free and home of the brave, even hideous criminals like Hitler, Stalin and Osama Bin Laden ought have a right to run.

    A) they wouldn’t get elected;
    B) we’d know exactly where they are;
    C) if Osama had been President, 9/11 may well not have happened;
    D) I don’t believe that Osama could have destroyed this country any worse than did V.P. Cheney while puppeteering Bush, and;
    E) if–for whatever reason–the American people want to turn into radical Muslim terrorists, they have that self-determinate right.

    So, really, with the Bush Administration, we’ve already lived through our worst-case scenario…and that man was 100% Texan, the only state that reserves the right to withdraw from the Union at will. I mean, how freakin’ American is that?

    All this clamor over upon which patch of earth of Pres. Obama born? Ridiculous, it shouldn’t even matter–not even one little bit. He served in the Senate, he’s qualified, he’s won, he’s in…now, please, all you birthers? just let it go and move-on that issues that matter.

  • Lstamperholic

    Why waste time and money amending the constitution? The Supreme Court did that when they ruled that corporations are people too. Doesn’t that allow our elections to be bought by foreign entities?

  • nanook

    Did you read this??

  • nanook

    Thank you for informing us. But do you have to be so nasty about it!

  • nanook

    You are correct. The Koch brothers are already buying into the religious right
    for the 2010 election.

  • Nardwilly

    There is no reason to change the constutution. there are enoough people running for President. There is no shottage of quality candidates.

  • GuiltyUndertaker

    George Bush was 0% Texan. He was a New England preppy blueblood, like his father and uncles.

  • GuiltyUndertaker

    Jon Meacham a liberal? Are you kidding me? Do some research, pal.

    This column is a veiled admission that Meacham thinks the possibility that Obama might not have been born in the USA is legitimate. The guy wants it both ways. He wants to appease the Trump crazies and tell the people rooted in reality that everything is OK. This is his idea of a compromise. Well, compromise is not an option when it comes to dealing with birthers. Expose them for the wild and crazy racists they are.

  • Zeeebest2

    Baloney!! Children born of US citizens anywhere ARE American citizens and can run for President

  • KABarry1901

    Why would we want to do that? We may get a Muslim, anti American, Marxist, fraud in office as the President, that would destroy the country from within with his anti business, anti energy, anti American foreign policies…and we wouldn’t want that to happen, would we ?

  • Ravi

    So, by extending your logic, there is no difference between allowing women to run for presidency and banning them from running, because there are enough men running for President.

  • KABarry1901

    I believe it says BOTH parents should be U.S. citizens

  • me only

    John Mcain was born in Panama.

  • just me

    Another stupid,uninformed amrikan

  • Carrie

    Thank you! I am so sick and tired of people saying Bush is a Texan.

  • Agentprovokatur

    That was not an extension of Nardwilly’s logic (said “people” without any reference to gender discrimination that you want to impute). Soapbox much?

  • Agentprovokatur

    While I disagree with the commentator’s position for various reasons I’m amused (but not surprised) to see that you, like others against this are using your opposition as a way to once again smear the President with your lame accusations. Grow up. Please.

  • Agentprovokatur

    Of course they cannot. Liars make up “facts” out of thin air. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Continually post it on the internet and eventually via search engines like Google it will “become truth” because searching on it will yield numerous links. Ignore that troll.

  • Anonymous

    Well he’s gotta be scared of something right? The “denigration of this nation”. That’s the 4 syllable word he learned this week.

  • Anonymous

    No this article is pointing out the fact that keeping non native born citizens from running is an archaic practice in a world where America is the dominant culture and power anyway.

  • Anonymous

    So how about people other than our current President, smart guy. Meacham is correct on this. We should Amend the Constitution, but good luck getting it done in these time of fear and suspicion.

  • Anonymous

    *Gasp* Not a Muslim!

  • Anonymous

    Well said. Most people wouldn’t know simple logic if it slapped them in the face with a flounder.

  • Agentprovokatur

    Dumb. It’s part of how the constitution WORKS. It is amendable and if you bothered to read it, it even provides for a mechanism to do so. Stop using your ignorance as a soapbox for “Conservative” claptrap. Please. Thank you.

  • Agentprovokatur

    An interesting proposal.

  • ski

    If you want to see a country that allows foreigners to be king, look to Poland. The practice was started, because they wanted to insure against internal power grabs, and wound up casting Poland into a million wars.

  • Teri O’Brien

    Nice sleight of hand, Jon. It isn’t “native born.” It is a “natural born citizen,” as in a child born on American soil of two American citizens. Unless Frank Marshall Davis is Obama’s real father, then he doesn’t qualify.

  • Agentprovokatur

    Wrong. Provide a cite for your lying interpretation that “natural born citizen” = “a child born on American soil of two American citizens.” Never been interpreted that way. Currently, and in 1961 for your information, only requires live birth on American soil regardless of citizenry of the parents.

    But keep repeating your lies. The only way they will gain traction is for you liars to keep repeating repeating repeating your lies until you think you have drowned out the truth and then you cite your own lies as the “truth”.

  • Agentprovokatur

    Well Mr. or Ms. Indignant, perhaps you should do a little googling yourself and provide a cite to the actual sections of the Constitution you claim to know so much about. Those words appear NOWHERE in that document. While I do not have a problem with the current POTUS’s citizenship, I do with those who claim to quote the constitution when they have no idea what they are talking about.

    We’ll patiently wait for you to respond. . . .

    Tick, tick, tick . . . . .

  • Agentprovokatur

    Obviously not, unless s/he thinks that having lived in the U.S. for 35 years as the poster s/he is responding to proposed = “never lived a day here”.

    What’s funny is that there was a time when computer ownership indicated some basic intelligence. Now any illiterate apparently can own one and mash keys to post their blather.

    The price of living in an open democracy with free speech is having to sift the enormous amount of chaff to get to the wheat.

  • Agentprovokatur

    And your ignorant response demonstrates that you are unable to critically read opinion pieces without seeing “reds under the beds” ideological stains everywhere. While I disagree with his article, how you can leap to such a comment demonstrates you arrived here with a predisposition to find this article as some kind of defense of the POTUS (which it is not) and assume that any change to Constitution regarding the Presidency must be a “left”-ist plot.

  • Classified

    Chances are your daughter is considered a natural-born citizen, as long as your wife was also a citizen at her time of birth. This is via jus sanguinis. If your daughter was born after 1986, even if you were the only United States citizen at the time, chances are she’s considered a natural-born citizen. As long as you meet the following criteria:

    1.The person’s parents were married at time of birth
    2.One of the person’s parents was a U.S. citizen when the person in question was born
    3.The citizen parent lived at least five years in the United States before the child’s birth
    4.A minimum of two of these five years in the United States were after the citizen parent’s 14th birthday.

  • Garrett B

    So, wait. because SOME people NOW believe a shady person might be in office, we should get rid of a requirement so someone wealthy can come and run the country? Wow, good idea, let’s let a Chinese official run the country, or a Mullah! Thanks for the absolute waste of a brain, Meacham.

  • Beth

    Well, Meacham just lost his own fool argument by quoting Amar… According to Amar, “In 1787, the more plausible scenario was that a foreign earl or duke would cross the Atlantic with immense wealth and a vast retinue and use his European riches to buy friends and power on a scale that virtually no American could match.” Amar reports that “several months before the constitution was drafted … Confederation Congress President Nathaniel Gorham, had apparently written to Prince Henry of Prussia, a brother of Frederick the Great, to inquire whether the prince might consider coming to the new world to serve as a constitutional monarch.” He just described the fool we have in office now…so we don’t need to change a thing. Who bank rolled Prince Obama? George Soros? Next: Where’s bin laden, I guess Amar is wanting to clear the way for him to run in 2012? No sir, no more foreign borns in the Oval Office…we’ll just shut down the government next time.

  • Adam Wright.

    The only legal definition of “natural born citizen” is a person who has been an American citizen from birth.

    The definition of willful ignorance is found in the comment I am replying to.

  • Jsedler13

    woody you are wrong!!!!!
    us constitution article2 section1 states
    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.

    as long as both you and your wife are citizens your daughter could be president.below is the definition of “natural born citizens”

    The Conclusive Definition Of “Natural-Born Citizen”

    Natural-born citizens of the United States are those who are citizens of the United States from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their American citizenship. These are those whose parents are citizens of the United States at the time of their birth.

    Natural-born American citizens are those born of American citizen parents, within or without the American Republic, provided in the latter case that one of the parents had resided in the United States prior to the birth of the child.

    there ya go guys,the constitution was not made to be broken.

  • Anonymous

    This exemplifies how much contempt the left has for our Constitution. This is obscene! “If Obama cannot be President because of the Constitution, then the Constitution must be changed?” What abject hubris this demonstrates. How can this be judged as anything less than megalomaniacal?

    This man is nothing more than a sycophantic brainwashed zombie (aka “typical progressive”) whose first, and only priority is Obama. He would sacrifice our nation to create the illusion that Obama is succeeding.

  • Voice of Reason

    Well done. (((clapping))) When I saw the headline I thought to myself this will draw the ire of every ranting lunatic on the web. LOL. Again. Very well done.

  • Josh

    simple logic would show that there is a marked difference between letting American-born women run for President in America and letting foreign-born people of either gender run for President.

    even more simple logic would show that in terms of what it says about women and running for the presidency, Nardwilly’s statement basically says “there are enough American women eligible to run for President so that we don’t have to let foreign women run for President.”

    that said, “there are enough people to run for President” really isn’t an argument for anything, either. and I disagree that there is no shortage of “quality” candidates.

    but there’s certainly no reason to change the Constitution, at least not in this regard.

  • Lindytoes

    We already have pseudo kings in the past….Bushes and Kennedys. Without wealth and backing of the establishment, it is very hard to become President. In fact, it makes Obama’s Presidency all the more amazing because not only is he the first black President, but he was barely anybody; he himself has said, what were his chances with a name and background like his? Apparently the American people can surprise us every once in a while. Some of these comments are truly ridiculous. And BTW I can’t understand why people think Obama is so radical. Most on the left think he is as completely centrist as a President can be. The health care plan is a Republican idea and something that should have been done under Nixon. Everything else is what Bush planned to do (like Iraq) or what McCain would have done (like Afganistan), and domestic policies are so minimal as to raise us out of the Great Recession slowly–no big dramatic anything really. We even have the same taxes as we did under Bush. I am still amazed at the right calling him radical. It’s ridiculous.

  • james & june pitts


  • why

    I wonder if you birthers can provide proof to your claims the President Obama is not a natural born citizen, is a Muslim, and NOT eligible for the presidency or are you just being mislead with the same rhetoric that because he doesn’t show his original birth certificate to every individual who questions it, that he is hiding something. You people really believe that there has been a conspiracy on the part of the entire US government to cover Obama’s birthplace. Do you really believe that the State Department would have given its approval is there was not sufficient evidence to support Obama’s citizenship? It wouldn’t matter if he showed the original document to every one that asked to see it because someone would have something else to say about it. The fact is, he’s provided the document to the powers that be. They accepted that his documentation was legal and in order, therefore, he was eligible, much like John McCain was eligible even though he was born in Panama, his father was on active duty in the military thus making him a citizen.

  • Anonymous

    Natural born and native born are two different ways to say the exact same thing.

  • Anonymous

    I would have no problem amending the Constitution to allow naturalized citizens to serve as president. I don’t hold with the paranoid and xenophobic notion that there is such a thing as a “pure” American pedigree. Such notions belong to the Old World, not a nation of immigrants such as the United States.
    It would be much more useful to amend to Constitution to deny citizenship rights to corporation. No corporate “person” should have the precious human rights that our forebears died to secure for all the actual human beings in the United States.

  • phoebeintheforest

    But why would he spend 1.7 million bucks hiding the birth certificate, passport records, adoption records, and all school records? Doesn’t common sense inform you that only someone with something to hide would spend all that money hiding it?! Were you aware that Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann, was enrolled at the University of Washington, Seattle JUST 15 DAYS AFTER OBAMA WAS BORN? That alone makes Honolulu or Kenya out of the question for birthplaces. It is highly unlikely that Stanley Ann days after giving birth, packed up and left Honolulu for Seattle, stood in long lines with a newborn at the university gym to sign up for classes (that’s how it was done in the olden days before computers), and shopped around for an apartment…and a babysitter. Stanley Ann had no experience with babies and this was way before disposable diapers. Also, American airlines at any rate, did not allow babies under six weeks of age to travel. BTW, that Certificate of Live Birth DOES NOT HAVE THE DOCTOR’S NAME OR SIGNATURE….ALSO NO HOSPITAL IS LISTED. For heaven’s sake, check your own birth certificates, or those of your parents or children!! You will find physician’s signatures and the name of the hospital. Yes, I realize Seattle is in the U.S., however, it isn’t the nativity story Obama has given the public. Why would he lie about such an innocent thing as a birthplace?? It’s 1961. The Dunhams have a knocked-up teenage daughter who is carrying a black man’s baby. This is years before the Civil Rights Movement and years before the movie: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. This is a MAJOR scandal! My money is on Stanley Ann being sent BACK to Seattle (remember she graduated from high school in Seattle) to live either in an unwed mothers’ home or with friends or relatives. And please people…check your own birth certificates. BTW, I wouldn’t discount Donald Trump so easily…he is no one’s fool.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s some illuminating info from’s “Urban Legends” website, posted in response to questions about Barack Obama’s eligibility to be President. At the very end, it touches on John McCain’s eligibility. Hope it helps:

    Analysis: Article II of the U.S. Constitution indeed specifies that only natural-born citizens are eligible for the office of the presidency:

    “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.”

    Though the term “natural-born citizen” was left undefined by the Framers of the Constitution, it was broadly understood in English common law at the time as referring to one who possesses citizenship by virtue of the circumstances of their birth. That’s still the general meaning of the phrase as it’s used today.

    In the United States there are two established principles upon which individuals are said to acquire citizenship at birth: jus sanguinus (“right of blood”), meaning citizenship conferred by being born to parents who are U.S. citizens, and jus soli (“right of soil”), meaning citizenship conferred by being born on U.S. soil. Per the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” individuals born on U.S. soil are considered “birthright citizens” regardless of the citizenship status of their parents.

    Citizenship status of Barack Obama’s parents:

    The (forwarded email I didn’t include here) asserts that because Obama’s Kenyan father wasn’t a U.S. citizen, and because his mother, who was a citizen, didn’t fulfill the supposed legal requirement of “resid[ing] in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16,” Obama himself was therefore not a citizen at birth.

    That is false on two counts:
    1. Obama was born on U.S. soil — in Honolulu, Hawaii — and was therefore a citizen at birth by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment (and the principle of jus soli).
    2. The stated residency requirement, in effect between 1952 and 1986, applied only to parents of individuals born outside the United States.

    Therefore Barack Obama is, in fact, a U.S. citizen. But some still argue that he is not a natural-born citizen. The reasons have to do with the disputed meaning of the term “natural born” itself.

    Natural born’ vs. ‘native born:’

    In lawsuits challenging Obama’s Constitutional eligibility it has been argued that while birth on U.S. soil confers “birthright” or “native-born” citizenship, it does not confer natural-born citizenship unless both parents are also U.S. citizens. Citing precedents they claim establish the Framers’ intent to disqualify individuals who could possess dual nationality or dual allegiance by virtue of having a foreign national for a parent, these litigants assert that such an individual ought not to be regarded as a natural-born citizen eligible to hold the office of the presidency (see Leo D’Onofrio, “Why Obama Is Ineligible – Regardless of His Birthplace”).

    The distinction between “natural born” and “native born” is not universally accepted by Constitutional scholars as a crucial one, however. Short of a Supreme Court decision or legislative statute settling the matter, it remains but one way of interpreting a longstanding legal ambiguity concerning the eligibility clause. There are other interpretations, most notably that found in an analysis of Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s standing as a natural-born citizen conducted by former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and Constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe in 2008. In their view — “based on the original meaning of the Constitution, the Framers’ intentions, and subsequent legal precedent,” they wrote — either the fact of birth on U.S. soil or the fact of birth to parents who are U.S. citizens is independently sufficient to confer natural born status.

  • pat

    Just like doofy Meacham to suggest destroying the country altogether.
    Now why would we want to take a foreigner for president, unless you want us all to be wearing Burqua’s and practicing Islam.
    One thing about crazy Meacham, if he can find a way to destroy America as we know it, he will.

    Hey, Meacham, want the Muslim Brotherhood to sneak in and run for President, oh no, they won’t tell us until after the election that actually the Brotherhood is running our country. Meacham is a total idiot!!!!!!!!!!
    Not to smucken smart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Our enemies are praising people like Meacham for their way out destructive views, anything to destroy America!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • stateofminder

    Thanks for looking into it – here are my thoughts:

  • Samuel

    7 Presidents prior to Obama had foreign born Parents, that includes the father of America. Obama is constitutionally eligible to be president

    George Washington(1789-1797) English Mother & Father
    Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)born of Irish immigrants
    Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) English Mother
    James Buchanan (1857-1861) Irish Father
    Chester Arthur (1881-1885) Irish Father
    Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) English Mother
    Herbert Hoover (1929-1933)Canadian Mother

    If both parent had to be born in America I thank George would of had a problem with that.
    So unless they are saying George was not a legal president, than the law was always as long as you were born in America you can be president even if your both of your parents was born in another country.

  • chuckgaff

    One minor correction but this otherwise has very good details. For “jus soli” it means by virtue only as soli is alone (like the word “solo”) in Latin rather than soil (looks like a dyslexic typographical error).

    There are some questions yet about the document in terms of why the word “African” appears when “Negro” would have made more sense for the race of the father since “African” is more of a geographical reference. Not all people in Africa are black in race. In addition there is also some question of the numbers being later at the top right than later birth certificates so there are still some discrepancies that raise questions in the long form of Hawaii birth certificate certification (different from a copy of the actual birth certificate).

  • Phil Bronner

     uhh, read the Constitution…”No person except a natural born Citizen, OR A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES, AT THE TIME OF THE ADOPTION OF THIS CONSTITUTION”…(Capitalization for emphasis..).. and I think your dates are off a bit, as George Washington WAS fighting the Revolutionary war, from the mid 1770s….so he obviously was born BEFORE 1789….There was a SCOTUS decision declaring that Natural Born Citizen is one whose BOTH parents were citizens of the US at the time of his birth….since Obama’s father never was….he’s ineligible!

  • P00KIE

    fact-checking this subject matter.”We think the onus is on the person making the claim to back up his statement (which was Trump.) And the only backing we’ve seen in this case is that the Obama campaign’s legal team spent more than $2 million on legal fees since the election ended. It’s clear to us that the WND story has been twisted to wrongly assume that every dollar the Obama campaign spent on legal fees went to fight the release of Obama’s birth certificate. The evidence shows that’s simply not true. It’s a huge, unsubstantiated leap to assume that all, or most, of that was related to lawsuits about Obama’s citizenship. We rule Trump’s claim False.

    SOUJRCE:  Politifact.

    So many are still running this story in the ground.  It won’t work.  Pres. Obama will win his re election and the next four years of Pres. O will be the best years for America.