Constitutional Theory Question

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posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 06:24 PM
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Was just reading through the Constitution and noticed this particular phrasing of words.

Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution sets forth the eligibility requirements for serving as president of the United 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.


Now correct me if I'm wrong but that phrase is clearly stating that only a natural citizen at the time of adoption can be President. Since adoption happened on September 17, 1787 it would seem that everyone born after that date cannot legally run for President.

This will basically make every election after William Henry Harrison, (who was our 9th President) illegal. Harrison was the last one who was a citizen, born before adoption of the Constitution. February 9, 1773. All the rest of the US Presidents were born afterwards so therefore were not citizens at the time of adoption of the Constitution.
edit on 5-2-2013 by Spookycolt because: (no reason given)
edit on 5-2-2013 by Spookycolt because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 06:30 PM
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Hmmmmm, I do believe that, given the rules of grammar in regards to commas, you are correct. Interesting! Did you check to make sure that is how the original says it?



posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 06:41 PM
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Those are known as "comma faults" in grammatic circles. All the documents relating to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are absolutely chock-a-block with them. There are many documents and writings of the Founding Fathers available, including the Federalist Papers, that clarify their intent.

There are those who say that Jefferson stuck that particular clause in there to disallow his nemesis Hamilton (who was from the West Indies) from running for president....

edit on 2/5/2013 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 09:41 PM
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you could break it down like so ...

No person except a natural born Citizen shall be eligible to the Office of President

and

a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President

i think that makes it more clear.



posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 09:42 PM
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reply to post by Ex_CT2
 





Those are known as "comma faults" in grammatic circles. All the documents relating to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are absolutely chock-a-block with them. There are many documents and writings of the Founding Fathers available, including the Federalist Papers, that clarify their intent.


That is correct. I believe that it is also true that there was no fixed rules about comma usage at the time, or even consistent spelling of words. Dictionaries barely existed, let alone "Harbrace College Handbook".
Writers put in commas where they felt like it.

Another place where a "comma fault" causes great distress in the Constitution is in the 2nd Amendment.



There are those who say that Jefferson stuck that particular clause in there to disallow his nemesis Hamilton (who was from the West Indies) from running for president....


Jefferson was in Paris when the Constitution was written; he had no input into it what-so-ever. Madison wrote much of the draft that was then heavily modified during the debates. The correct meaning of the clause is to specifically to benefit (not disallow) those of the Patriot Generation who, like Hamilton (born in the West Indies, naturalized in New York), were naturalized citizens.
edit on 5/2/2013 by rnaa because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 5 2013 @ 10:46 PM
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Originally posted by rnaa
reply to post by Ex_CT2
 





Those are known as "comma faults" in grammatic circles. All the documents relating to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are absolutely chock-a-block with them. There are many documents and writings of the Founding Fathers available, including the Federalist Papers, that clarify their intent.


That is correct. I believe that it is also true that there was no fixed rules about comma usage at the time, or even consistent spelling of words. Dictionaries barely existed, let alone "Harbrace College Handbook".
Writers put in commas where they felt like it.

Another place where a "comma fault" causes great distress in the Constitution is in the 2nd Amendment.



There are those who say that Jefferson stuck that particular clause in there to disallow his nemesis Hamilton (who was from the West Indies) from running for president....


Jefferson was in Paris when the Constitution was written; he had no input into it what-so-ever. Madison wrote much of the draft that was then heavily modified during the debates. The correct meaning of the clause is to specifically to benefit (not disallow) those of the Patriot Generation who, like Hamilton (born in the West Indies, naturalized in New York), were naturalized citizens.


You are correct in every respect. There were no rules about comma placement, and many of the writers of the time, the Founding Fathers included, sprinkled commas around as if there were an inexhaustible supply of them. I do believe there were stylebooks available, but I don't know what they said about dependent and independent clauses. (I'll have to check on that.)

You are correct also about Jefferson. Hamilton in fact wrote the original "citizenship clause," and I was thinking that Jefferson knew of it and insisted that it be changed. Actually it was John Jay who suggested the addition of "natural born." A quick search finds no attribution to Jefferson; I guess it's just something I heard somewhere and it stuck.

As to whether Hamilton could have been President: You can still find plenty of animated arguments in books, blogs, and magazine and newspaper articles concerning the meaning and interpretation of that little clause. I still don't know which way I lean....

edit on 2/5/2013 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)
edit on 2/6/2013 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 6 2013 @ 12:09 AM
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reply to post by rnaa
 


For what it's worth, I've found two style manuals (self-described as "Grammars") more or less contemporary with the framers of the Constitution: Joseph Priestley: Rudiments of English Grammar [1761] (1st Edition), [1768] (2nd Edition); and Robert Lowth: Short Introduction to English Grammar [1762] (1st Edition), [1763] (2nd Edition)

A couple of excerpts:


I might with better reason contend, that it ought to be "his descending," because it is in Greek...in the Genitive, and it would be as good Grammar, and as proper English (Lowth, 1763)

The third Person or thing spoken of being absent and in many respects unknown, it is necessary that it should be marked by distinction of Gender (Lowth, 1763)

Different Relations, and different senses, must be expressed by different prepositions; tho' in conjunction with the same verb or adjective (Priestley, 1768)

The singular number would have been better than the plural, in the following sentence, - putting our minds into the disposals of others, Locke (Priestley, 1768)


The only point being that such philologies did exist; though there's no way to know whether the Framers were familiar with them. Note that the respective writers are somewhat more parsimonious with their commas--though they still use them somewhat indiscriminately. Consequently, I'm not going to bother to follow up on whatever rules they may have expressed for their use....

edit on 2/6/2013 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)






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