From the Congressional Research Service:
"Considering the history of the constitutional qualifications provision, the common use and meaning of the phrase "natural-born subject" in England and in the Colonies in the 1700s, the clause's apparent intent....would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship "at birth" or "by birth".
I think that they came to an incorrect conclusion.
The common meaning of "natural born subject" in England in the 1700's did not mean "subject at birth" or "subject by birth". It simply meant a subject of the crown, as opposed to a foreigner.
From "The London magazine; or, Gentleman's monthly intelligencer, Volume 32 (1763)
Google Books link
...all such foreign protestants as well officers as soldiers who have served or shall hereafter serve in the royal American regiment or as engineers in America for the space of two years and shall take and subscribe the oaths &c shall be deemed his majesty's natural born subjects of this kingdom, to all intents and purposes ..."(Page 239)
...That no person who shall become a natural born subject of this kingdom by virtue of this act shall be thereby enabled to be of the privy council or a member of either houle of parliament, or capable of taking or enjoying any office or place of trust within the kingdoms of Great Britain or Ireland either civil or military or any grant from the crown to himself or to any other in trust for him of any land tenements or hereditaments within the said kingdoms. (Page 240)
...but it is certain that by this act a foreigner may in two years become a natural born subject of this kingdom whereas by the said act of 13 Gco 2 a foreigner must live seven years in America without having ever been absent from thence above two months at a time before he can become a natural born subject of this kingdom.(Pg 241)
Note that a "natural born subject" could be someone who was naturalized by statute or could be a person born in the country. The new United States of America did not use the English Common Law definition of "Natural Born."
In addition, there is the Civil Rights Act of 1866
1866 CRA link
1866 Civil Rights Act
14 Stat. 27-30, April 9, 1866 A.D.
CHAP. XXXI. –- An Act to protect all Persons in the United States in their Civil Rights, and furnish the Means of their Vindication.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States;
A child born to a foreign parent in the United States was subject to a foreign power by virtue of the inherited citizenship from that foreign parent, and was not considered a citizen of the United States.
Leaving statutes behind us, we now come to the United States Supreme Court.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Minor v. Happersett Decided: March 29, 1875
(Can be found on Justia.com)
Additions might always be made to the citizenship of the United States in two ways: first, by birth, and second, by naturalization. This is apparent from the Constitution itself, for it provides that "no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President," and that Congress shall have power "to establish a uniform rule of naturalization." Thus new citizens may be born or they may be created by naturalization.
The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first.
Some lower courts granted citizenship to the children of foreigners born on US soil, and some did not. There were doubts as to whether or not those children were citizens of the US. There were no doubts about the citizenship of children born in the US to US citizen parents because they were "natural born citizens" i.e. children born in a country of parents who were its citizens.
Rogers v. Bellei - 401 U.S. 815 (1971)
(Can be found on Justia.com)
Although those Americans who acquire their citizenship under statutes conferring citizenship on the foreign-born children of citizens are not popularly thought of as naturalized citizens, the use of the word "naturalize" in this way has a considerable constitutional history. Congress is empowered by the Constitution to "establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization," Art. I, § 8. Anyone acquiring citizenship solely under the exercise of this power is, constitutionally speaking, a naturalized citizen.
1 Stat. 103, 104. This provision is the earliest form of the statute under which Bellei acquired his citizenship. Its enactment as part of a "Rule of Naturalization" shows, I think, that the First Congress conceived of this and most likely all other purely statutory grants of citizenship as forms or varieties of naturalization.
All means of obtaining American citizenship which are dependent upon a congressional enactment are forms of naturalization. Citizenship acquired by being born in the United States to two US citizen parents does not depend upon a Congressional enactment.
The 14th Amendment states that persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens. It does not state that persons born in the United States are "natural born citizens", it only says that they are "citizens".
In my opinion, a "natural born citizen" is a person born in the United States to two United States citizen parents. It doesn't matter if the parents are natural born citizens themselves or are naturalized citizens. If they are US citizens at the time their child is born in the US, that child is a constitutional natural born citizen.