Who was the first American born citizen to become President of the United States of America, we had this question recently in a pub quiz, the answer was George Washington, but several people said that as he was born in Virginia at the time of British occupation he could not be classed as American. I would be glad if you could give the correct answer as to save further disagreements.


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Here's what the constitution has to say about Presidents and citizenship:

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.

This was clearly meant to grandfather in people who were citizens at the time, but eventually transition to Presidents having to be natural-born citizens.

Washington, as you say, was technically born an Englishman in Virginia Colony, but was a US citizen in 1789 when the Constitution went into effect.

Martin Van Buren (8th President) was born in New York in 1782. This was after the Declaration of Independence, but while the USA was operating under the Articles of Confederation. This arguably makes him the first "natural born" US president. However, as he also qualified under the "Citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution" phrase, its not an issue anyone would ever have to clarify.

John Tyler (10th President) was born in Virginia in 1790, which makes him the first US president born after the Constitution was ratified.

Incidentally, Zackary Taylor (12th President) was the only president after Tyler to have been born before the Constitution went into effect. However, like Van Buren, he was born in the US under the Articles of Confederation, so was technically a "natural born Citizen" too.


Van Buren was born under the articles of confederation and would have been a citizen of a state. John Tyler was the first to be president, born under the Constitution. Buchanan was born under the Constitution before Tyler but was president later.

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