4

The United States Constitution states (relevant part highlighted):

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 the title states, who is the last known person to have been eligible for the Presidency without having been born a US citizen?

closed as too broad by LangLangC, jwenting, RedGrittyBrick, Giter, Null Oct 30 '18 at 14:07

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    Wouldn't you need to know the birth date, birth location, and death date of citizen alive before 1787 to fully answer this question? It's not likely to be anyone who is otherwise notable. – AllInOne Oct 29 '18 at 18:31
  • 2
    Since no one found this all that interesting a question in the late 19th century when this person, whoever they were, died, no one made note of it. I'm not sure it's all that interesting now, either. – Steven Burnap Oct 29 '18 at 19:19
  • 1
    As your user page suggests you like technical challenges... you could try to discover this person yourself by searching against available structured data sources such as ancestry.com or wikipedia (for notable people) starting here and working backwards: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1786_births – AllInOne Oct 29 '18 at 19:19
  • 2
    This is asking for a huge list of people immigrating into the US before 1788. So what is the question: Who was the longest living of these? Who collected his Ellis Island (yeah, shoot me, it's a symbol) stamp the closest before constitution went into effect? Who was the last candidate meeeting your criteria? Who was the most notable ("known")? A good question generates answers that then spawn further questions. This Q is so unclear that it spawns a dozen questions before it can be answered. Please revise that, if possible. – LangLangC Oct 30 '18 at 9:38
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because as the help center says "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." If we disregard the bit about "problems you face", it is still reasonable to expect folk to ask questions that are answerable, this alas isn't. – RedGrittyBrick Oct 30 '18 at 11:20
3

Q Who is the last known non-natural US citizen who would have been eligible for 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.

To approach this problem: The constitution came into effect on June 21, 1788. This means that any person made resident before the adoption of the constitution on that date and then dying last meets this criteria. If we read this question as "who could have made a theoretical bid as candidate in a presidential election the latest under these criteria?"

Therefore I will opt for John Smith born 1787 in Yorkshire, England, immigrated shortly after birth with parents to US, made resident immediately, died 1901 at the age of 114. Disregarding appearances and fitness at that age he would have qualified as candidate in the 1900 elections. Probably beating McKinley due to Smith's much greater experience…

Did John Smith even exist? This is of course an example. It just illustrates that this question is overly broad and that it also fails on relying on robust records to search for. We need records of residentship/citizenship before 1788. But:

What time periods do they cover?
Naturalization records began in 1790 and go up to the present. However, they are much more detailed after 1906. They are found throughout the United States.

The timeframe is too big, the records too incomplete. There likely is no definite answer to this.


As the question might be read in multiple ways, and in case I missed a probably obvious to others angle:

William Henry Harrison Sr. (February 9, 1773 – April 4, 1841) was a son of Founding Father Benjamin Harrison V and the paternal grandfather of Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States (1889–1893). He was the last president born as a British royal subject in the original Thirteen Colonies before the American Revolution (1775-1783).

This amplifies one other thing about this question: what does "eligible" really mean? The founding fathers were all traitors to the British Crown, but born on American soil, making the question of citizenship this: the first presidents were all not born as American citizens, obviously.

Seeing that not even one of the real candidates for the presidency in the history of presidential elections was not born on American soil, it seems that the original phrase was already a theoretical construct when it was written down, as obviously no-one was truly ever considered really "eligible" in pratical terms if not proven to be born on American soil.

  • 1
    and the records that do exist too scattered to be of much use... How can you ever be certain you got all of them, and even if you did, as you point out, you can't be certain nobody existed who was never recorded. – jwenting Oct 30 '18 at 10:36
1

The Constitution of the United States came into effect on 21 June 1788.

Zachary Taylor, born in 1784, and elected president in 1848, was the last person elected who meets your criteria.

  • 3
    To be pedantic: Zack was a natural, but the question asked for non-natural. It also did not ask for "elected" but "eligible". You are answering he question "who was the last president born before the constitution was adopted". This Q needs any immigrant bornanytime before 1788 but naturalised before 21 June 1788. – LangLangC Oct 30 '18 at 9:32
  • 3
    @LangLangC: what you say is true; I simply re-interpreted the question so that it actually has a sensible, definite answer. – Peter Diehr Oct 30 '18 at 11:18
  • 2
    My first three comment words should actually convey that I would almost prefer the question to be reworded to fit your answer… – LangLangC Oct 30 '18 at 11:21

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.