Wednesday, May 19, 2010

John Charles Frémont and Natural Born Citizenship

John Charles Frémont was the Republican Party's very first nominee for President of the United States, in 1856. Born in Savannah, Georgia in 1813, he was the son of Charles Fremon and Anne Beverley Whiting.

The traditional narrative holds that Frémont's father, Charles Fremon, was a French immigrant who had fought in the French Revolution. However, according to Andrew F. Rolle, author of John Charles Frémont: Character As Destiny, Frémont's father was actually born Louis-René Frémont in Quebec, Canada. Either way, Rolle reports that after some years of imprisonment overseas, the elder Frémont arrived in Virginia around 1810, and after arriving in Richmond, he began a relationship with Anne Whiting.

John Charles Frémont was born to these two on January 21, 1813. Rolle refers to Charles Fremon as Anne's "foreign lover," and gives no indication whatsoever that he ever naturalized as a U.S. citizen at any time prior to his death in 1818. Moreover, the scandalous origins of Frémont's father were hardly hidden from the public.

Thus, John Charles Frémont, the first Republican Presidential candidate in U.S. history and a man born a scant 26 years after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, was himself the son of a non-U.S. citizen father. Just like Barack Obama. And just as the citizenship of Frémont's father was no Constitutional impediment to his eligibility, neither is Obama Senior's an obstacle to his son's.

The question then is: will the 'Birthers' accept this as evidence that their favored definition of "natural born citizen" is wrong, or will they attempt to retroactively declare America's first Republican Presidential candidate to be an attempted foreign usurper?

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