George III Wasn’t ALL Bad

I have just finished reading a 523-page tome, fresh off the presses, titled, The Johann Dietrich Hollrah Family – 700 Years of Hollrah Family History.  The title character, Johann Dietrich Hollrah, was my great-grandfather.  He was born at Hahlen, in the Kingdom of Hanover (now Germany), on September 30, 1824, and emigrated to the United States with his father, also named Johann Dietrich, in the winter of 1834.  They arrived at the Port of New Orleans on December 30, 1834, traveled from New Orleans to St. Louis by riverboat, crossed the Missouri River into St. Charles County, purchased a tract of wooded land, and set about clearing the land for agricultural purposes.  The hard-bound book, researched and written by my cousin, Dr. Robert M. Sandfort, over a period of more than three decades, measures 8½ in. by 11 in. and is nearly 1½ in. thick.

The region of Germany where the Hollrah family lived and prospered for well over seven centuries was under nearly constant religious turmoil beginning in 1532 when the Protestant Reformation began to spread across Germany, reaching northwestern Germany when the principality of Muenster converted to Lutheranism.  Between the years 1532 and the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648, the principality of Osnabruck, immediately to the south of the Rolfes-Hollrah and the Berens-Hollrah farms, near Menslage, vacillated between Protestantism and Catholicism.  During that 116-year period, the principality was governed by five Protestant and four Catholic administrations.  However, beginning around 1690, the church at Menslage affiliated with the Lutheran Church and remains so to this day.

The level of bitterness that divided Catholics and Protestants was such that a public opinion poll taken in Germany during the 1960s found that the German people considered the Thirty Years War to be their country’s “greatest disaster” of all time… greater even than World War II and the Holocaust.

The history tells of a long running dispute between the two Hollrah families which demonstrates, if nothing else, the stubbornness that is often ascribed to people of German descent.  At some point during the latter half of the 17th century a dispute erupted between the Berens-Hollrah and the Rolfes-Hollrah families over three tracts of land on the dividing line between the two farms.  The three tracts were referred to as the kleine Maersch (small marsh), the hinterster Wald  (backmost forest), and the Olden Hagen (old enclosure), all of which were jointly owned by the two farms since the farms were divided, most likely in the 1300s, long before Columbus sailed for America.  And since ownership could not be legally determined, the dispute raged on for some 300 years, during which time the two Hollrah families alternated control of the three parcels for periods of 12 years.

During the 18th century the situation was exacerbated by the religious tensions that existed between the Lutheran principality of Muenster and the Roman Catholic principality of Osnabruck… the dividing line for which ran squarely through the two Hollrah farms.

Finally, in 1730, a commission was established for the purposes of studying the matter and suggesting a final solution.  Unfortunately, the members of the commission were so bitterly divided that the commission members representing Roman Catholic Osnabruck drew a map in which the proposed boundary line passed through the farm buildings of Berens-Hollrah.  The suggested property description instructed: “… proceed in the side door of the Muenster side        of the (Hollrah) house.  From there, through the hallway and then in front of the door alongside the Roeleff-Hollrah farm place and house.”

The 300-year dispute was eventually resolved.  Under that agreement, Rolfes-Hollrah was given sole ownership of the marshlands and Berens-Hollrah the remaining two parcels.

But the most captivating event of the Hollrah family history occurred in the mid-18th century.  As the historical record tells us, when Rudolph Heinrich Hollrah and Helena Bruencke married on November 27, 1748, they signed a contract in which they promised to educate their children at the St. Vitus Catholic school in nearby Loeningen, and to raise them in the Catholic faith.  This in spite of the fact that they were both Lutherans.

Rudolph Heinrich died in 1759 at the age of 57.  He was survived by his wife, Helena, and six children, the eldest being 10-year old Johann Hermann who, as the eldest son, was the hereditary heir to the family farm.  But since Johann Hermann was far too young to take control of a large farm and his mother was unable to do so, it became advantageous for her to remarry.

On June 12, 1762, Helena married Hermann Heinrich Barklage, a tenant farmer in nearby Hahlen.  However, as was the custom in Germany. when a female heir or widow was left in control of a major farm, the man she later married changed his surname to that of his wife.  Accordingly, Hermann Heinrich Barklage paid the required Auffahrt (entry onto the farm) assessment, moved onto the Rolfes-Hollrah farm, and became Hermann Heinrich (Barklage) Hollrah.  He became the provisional “owner” of the Rolfes-Hollrah farm until such time as the hereditary heir, 13-year-old Johann Hermann, came of age.

However, following her first husband’s death in 1759, Helena no longer felt committed to their pledge to raise their children in the Catholic faith.  Needless to say, the priest at the St. Vitus Catholic church in Loeningen, Pastor Vagedes, was not pleased.  He quickly enlisted the assistance of a local magistrate, Judge Nehem.

The two men, convinced that the Hollrah children were attending the Lutheran school in Menslage, threatened to impose heavy fines on their mother if they were absent from classes in the Catholic school, even for a few days.  In fact, when Helena Hollrah married Hermann Heinrich Barklage in June 1762, the newly married couple, under some duress, signed a new agreement to educate their children as Roman Catholics, even though both parents were Lutherans.

During the last half of 1762 and the first half of 1763, Judge Nehem increased the fines, and when the Hollrahs still refused to relent, the authorities sent a detachment of troops to the farm where they confiscated farm equipment, household furniture, livestock, and anything else of value.  The confiscated items were then sold to satisfy the unpaid fines.

But things became even more complicated when Helena’s eldest son, Johann Hermann reached age 14 on June 2, 1763.  On that occasion he announced his intention to convert to the Lutheran religion.  And since he was the designated Anerbe (hereditary heir to the Rolfes-Hollrah farm), his decision angered the local authorities in Loeningen and Muenster, causing them to impose even heavier fines, along with threats to imprison the parents if they continued to disobey the government edicts.

To understand the passions aroused by this disagreement, it is important to understand that the Rolfes-Hollrah and Berens-Hollrah farms were located in the Catholic-controlled Bishopric of Muenster, which was under the ultimate control of the Elector of Cologne, while the ultimate “owners” of the Hollrah farms, since 1319, were the nuns of the Boerstel Convent, which was situated in the Protestant-controlled Bishopric of Osnabruck.  The Bishopric of Osnabruck, in turn, was ruled by the Elector of Braunschweig-Lueneburg (Hanover).  At that time in history, Hanover was ruled by England, which had been Protestant since the reign of Henry VIII.

The Abbess at the Boerstel Convent eventually took the Hollrah farm dispute to authorities in Osnabruck and Hanover who expressed little objection to the actions taken by Pastor Vagedes , and Judge Nehem in Loeningen.  They did not object to efforts to force the younger Hollrah children to be educated at the St. Vitus Catholic School; however, under provisions of the Treaty of Westphalia, ending the Thirty Years War, they agreed that the eldest son, Johann Hermann, having attained his 14th birthday, had the right to choose between Catholicism and Lutheranism.

As time passed, word of the religious persecution of the Hollrah family spread across Germany.  And on December 15, 1763, the Hanover Privy Councillor to George III of England wrote a lengthy letter to the Muenster government objecting to the treatment of the Hollrah family and reminding them that Protestants throughout the Empire would be paying close attention to their predicament.  His letter also served as a reminder that His Royal Highness, King George III, the King of Hanover and of England, would also be fully aware of their actions.

But the local authorities in Loeningen were undeterred.  On December 30, 1766, a letter from the Muenster high court containing six final decrees… one of which threatened the Hollrah parents with imprisonment… was sent to the Hollrah farm where it was read to them on January 10, 1767.  And when the Hollrahs refused to comply with the decree, the husband and wife were imprisoned in the Loeningen jail for eight days, where they were fed only bread and water.

But this harsh treatment did not have its desired effect; the Hollrah parents continued to refuse to educate their children at the St. Vitus Catholic school and to indoctrinate them in the Catholic faith.  As a result, when the Hollrah parents attempted to return to the Rolfes-Hollrah farm, they were again taken into custody by local authorities.  On that occasion, thoe mother was taken to the Cloppenberg jail, where she was held for a period of six months, while the father/stepfather, Hermann Heinrich, was incarcerated at the “Zuchthaus,” the penitentiary at Muenster, where he was held under conditions of hard labor.  Clearly, these people took their religion very seriously.

Six months later, on October 20, 1767, the Hanover Privy Councillor wrote to the Abbess of the Boerstel Convent.  In his letter he explained that he had presented all the details of the Hollrah family’s religious persecution to His Majesty King George III for a decision.  This letter was followed on November 13, 1767, by a letter from the Privy Councillor to the Elector of Cologne.  In this six-page letter the Privy Councillor concluded by saying, “His Royal Majesty of Great Britain, our All Merciful Lord, who at the very least will allow the same rights to his Catholic subjects as to the Protestant ones has directed us to order this treatment to cease and to remedy these complaints…”

It is well that King George III took the time in 1767 to sort out the religious persecution of the Hollrah family in his native Kingdom of Hanover.  Less than nine years later, on July 4, 1776, he had much larger problems to solve.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

 

 

 

 

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Kamala Harris – Presidential Usurper

As a two-time member of the US Electoral College, I have researched the issue of presidential eligibility quite thoroughly and I believe I have developed an understanding of what the Founders intended that many in the political world still refuse to acknowledge.

Most significantly, the Founders rightly understood that the most influential factor in a child’s upbringing is the parenting he/she receives as a child, and that the cultural, philosophical, political, and religious influence of a child’s parents fundamentally establishes the direction of his/her future conduct and intellectual development.  Accordingly, what the Founders feared most, and what caused them to limit access to the presidency only to the “natural born,” was the fear that a future president… during his formative years and during the years in which he was developing intellectually… would be exposed to an environment or an ideology which might cause him to reject the values and the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution.  That is why the Founders understood a “natural born” citizen to be a person who was born to parents, both of whom were US citizens at the time of his birth.  It did not provide an absolute guarantee that we would not one day find a dedicated socialist in the White House… as we have witnessed in recent years… but it provided at least some insurance against such an occurrence.

A perfect example of “what might have been” is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).  Born in Canada, his father was a citizen of Cuba who, as a teenager, was a member of the Cuban resistance headed by Fidel Castro.  He made his way to the United States in 1957, enrolled at the University of Texas, and graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1961.  Later, after being transferred to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and acquiring Canadian citizenship, he and his wife became parents of a son, Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz, the current junior senator from the State of Texas and a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

During that campaign, the American people. were convinced that the Cruzes, father and son, were both solidly anti-Communist patriots.  But that’s only what we were told.  What if the exact opposite were true?  What if the elder Cruz had been a dedicated Communist, a Fidelista in sheep’s clothing?  And what if he had spent decades indoctrinating his own son in all the benefits of life in a socialist Utopia?  His son, Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand in the United States Senate, would have become the perfect “Manchurian Candidate.”

But now, less than two years prior to the 2020 presidential election, we find that the tendency of Democrats to embrace style over substance rearing its ugly head once again.  As they did in 2008, they are offering for our consideration a candidate who is not eligible to serve as president or vice president.  I refer, of course, to the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris.

Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, emigrated to the US from India in 1960 and her father, Donald Harris, emigrated to the US from Jamaica in 1961.  Under US law, an individual cannot apply for citizenship until they’ve held a “green card” for a minimum of five years.  Kamala Harris was born on October 20, 1964.  At best, her mother was a legal non-citizen resident of the US for just 4 years, 9 months, and 20 days when Sen. Harris was born.  Her father was, at best, a legal non-citizen resident for just 3 years, 9 months, and 20 days when she was born.  Neither parent could possibly have been a U.S. citizen when Kamala Harris was born.

What few Americans recognize is that there are only two (2) jobs in the entire United States… public sector and private sector combined… that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those two jobs are President and Vice President of the United States.  Ms. Harris can be Mayor of San Francisco, she can be Governor of California, she can be an Ambassador, she can be a Federal Judge, she can even be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  None of those jobs require “natural born” status.  But unless her parents were both US citizens when she was born, she cannot hold either the presidency or the vice presidency.  If she was born on American soil, she is a US citizen, but just being born on US soil does not make one a “natural born” citizen.  One must be born of two US citizen parents in order to qualify as “natural born.”

When the Founders met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the US Constitution, the physical scars of the War of Independence were still visible all around them and a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives.  So, is it even remotely conceivable that, just five years and eleven months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would allow an individual with dual/divided loyalties – e.g. an individual with dual US-British citizenship – to serve as president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy?  Not likely.  It is a preposterous notion on its face.  To believe that they would have done so requires a willing suspension of reason.  Nevertheless, the consensus among many in the political/legal world today is that the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen,” as used in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, are synonymous.  They are not!!

This issue is still being falsely characterized because liberals and Democrats simply cannot afford to have the “natural born” issue thoroughly examined.  If it were, the American people would finally come to understand that, at birth, Barack Obama held dual US-British citizenship by descent from his father and his mother.  To expose Obama’s lack of eligibility at this late date would create the greatest constitutional crisis in history and would likely tear the nation apart.

So, the question arises, is there proof of the contention that the Framers intended the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be mutually exclusive?  The answers is yes.  It all revolves around the purpose and the meaning of the tiny word “or,” which precedes a “grandfather clause” in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution

At the time the Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, there were three types of citizens:

1)  The former British subjects who… having renounced all foreign
allegiances and having pledged to each other their lives, their
fortunes, and their sacred honor… became citizens of the United
States when the Declaration of Independence was signed on July
4, 1776
2)  The post-Declaration children of those who became U.S. citizens
July 4, 1776, the first “natural born” citizens of the United States,
and all less than twelve years old at the time the Constitution wa,
ratified on June 21 1788; and
3)  A class of citizens comprised of those who emigrated to the
United States after July 4, 1776, having taken a loyalty oath and
having renounced all foreign allegiances.

To fully understand the significance of the words, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…,” it is also necessary to recognize three significant dates:

1)  July 4, 1776, the date on which the Declaration of Independence
was signed, making all citizens of the thirteen colonies citizens of
the United States;
2)  June 21, 1788, the date on which ratification by the State of New
Hampshire made the Constitution the official law of the land; and
3)  July 4, 1811, the date after which the first “natural born” citizens…
those born to US citizens after the signing of the Declaration on
July 4, 1776… became thirty-five years of age.

The Constitution requires that, in addition to being a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years, those who would seek the presidency must be at least thirty-five years of age.  However, the only “natural born” citizens available on June 21, 1788, the day the Constitution was ratified, were children under twelve years of age.  To solve that problem, the Framers added a “grandfather clause,” making it possible for newly-minted US citizens… all residents of the United States for at least fourteen years and all at least thirty-five years of age, but none of them “natural born” because they were born to parents who were not U.S. citizens prior to the day the Declaration of Independence was signed… to serve as president.  This was necessary until such time as a body of individuals, born subsequent to July 4, 1776, reached age thirty-five.

George Washington, our first president, was born at Wakefield, Virginia on February 22, 1732, forty-four years before the Declaration of Independence.  He was a “citizen,” but not a “natural born” citizen because both of his parents were British subjects at the time of his birth.

John Adams, our second president, was born at Braintree, Massachusetts on October 30, 1735, forty-one years before the Declaration of Independence.  He was a “citizen” because he was born in Massachusetts, but he was not a “natural born” citizen because both of his parents were British subjects at the time of his birth and owed their allegiance to the British crown.

Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was born at Shadwell, Virginia on April 13, 1743, thirty-three years before the Declaration of Independence.  He was a “citizen” because he was born in Virginia, but he was not a “natural born” citizen because both of his parents were British subjects at the time of his birth.

James Madison, our fourth president, born in Virginia on March 16, 1751, twenty-five years before the Declaration of Independence; James Monroe, our fifth president, born in Virginia on April 28, 1758, eighteen years before the Declaration of Independence; John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, born in Massachusetts on July 11, 1767, nine years before the Declaration of Independence; and Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, born in South Carolina on March 15, 1767, nine years before the Declaration of Independence; were all “citizens” because they were born in what came to be the United States of America, but they were not “natural born” citizens because their parents were not US citizens at the time of their birth.

However, Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, was born at Kinderhook, New York on December 5, 1782, six years and five months after the Declaration of Independence.  Unlike his seven predecessors, he was not just a “citizen,” he was a “natural born” citizen… the first president, at least thirty-five years of age, who was born to US citizen parents after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

A great many patriotic, but ill-informed, Americans refuse to accept the fact that, while the Founders intended that only “natural born” citizens should ever serve as president, there were no 35-year-old “natural born” citizens available during the first 35 years of our nation’s history. Accordingly, it became necessary to provide an exemption of limited duration covering those citizens born prior to July 4, 1776.  All were “grandfathered” and made eligible under the phrase, “or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…”

Every U.S. president since Van Buren… with the exception of Republican Chester A. Arthur, whose Irish father was reportedly a British subject at the time of his birth, and Democrat Barack Obama, whose Kenyan father was also a British subject at the time of his birth… has been a “natural born” U.S. citizen, as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

The Framers found it inconceivable that a president of the United States, commander in chief of the Army and the Navy, should ever hold even partial allegiance to a foreign nation or be required to obey the laws of a foreign nation, as is the case with all dual citizens.  It is for this reason that the Constitution limits candidates for president and vice president to those who are “natural born” citizens, and to those who were citizens of the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted.  There can be no exceptions.

Were that not the case, and had the Framers considered the terms “citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be synonymous, Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution would now read, simply, “No Person except a Citizen of the United States 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.”

The Constitution of the United States is not set in stone.  Within its pages it provides for an orderly process with which it can be amended from time to time, as the need arises.  However, we are a nation of laws with a Constitution that must be enforced precisely as the Framers intended.  To turn our backs on the clear intent of even one single constitutional principle, for no better reason than political expediency, is an abomination.

In 2008, Democrats were able to craftily define the issue as one relating to Barack Obama’s place of birth, and to label those who insisted he lacked eligibility by reason of not being born on American soil as “birthers.”  It became the deadly “third rail” of the 2008 campaign, effectively preventing any honest debate of the issue.

Thusly, on two occasions in our political history we have allowed the presidential eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 to be twisted and contorted to fit the political mood of the day.  We cannot allow that to happen again.  We cannot allow our Constitution to be amended by popular fiat.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a two-time member of the US Electoral College, I have researched the issue of presidential eligibility quite thoroughly and I believe I have developed an understanding of what the Founders intended that many in the political world still refuse to acknowledge.

 

Most significantly, the Founders rightly understood that the most influential factor in a child’s upbringing is the parenting he/she receives as a child, and that the cultural, philosophical, political, and religious influence of a child’s parents fundamentally establishes the direction of his/her future conduct and intellectual development.  Accordingly, what the Founders feared most, and what caused them to limit access to the presidency only to the “natural born,” was the fear that a future president… during his formative years and during the years in which he was developing intellectually… would be exposed to an environment or an ideology which might cause him to reject the values and the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution.  That is why the Founders understood a “natural born” citizen to be a person who was born to parents, both of whom were US citizens at the time of his birth.  It did not provide an absolute guarantee that we would not one day find a dedicated socialist in the White House… as we have witnessed in recent years… but it provided at least some insurance against such an occurrence.

 

A perfect example of “what might have been” is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).  Born in Canada, his father was a citizen of Cuba who, as a teenager, was a member of the Cuban resistance headed by Fidel Castro.  He made his way to the United States in 1957, enrolled at the University of Texas, and graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1961.  Later, after being transferred to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and acquiring Canadian citizenship, he and his wife became parents of a son, Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz, the current junior senator from the State of Texas and a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

 

During that campaign, the American people. were convinced that the Cruzes, father and son, were both solidly anti-Communist patriots.  But that’s only what we were told.  What if the exact opposite were true?  What if the elder Cruz had been a dedicated Communist, a Fidelista in sheep’s clothing?  And what if he had spent decades indoctrinating his own son in all the benefits of life in a socialist Utopia?  His son, Senator Ted Cruz, a conservative firebrand in the United States Senate, would have become the perfect “Manchurian Candidate.”

 

But now, less than two years prior to the 2020 presidential election, we find that the tendency of Democrats to embrace style over substance rearing its ugly head once again.  As they did in 2008, they are offering for our consideration a candidate who is not eligible to serve as president or vice president.  I refer, of course, to the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris.

 

Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, emigrated to the US from India in 1960 and her father, Donald Harris, emigrated to the US from Jamaica in 1961.  Under US law, an individual cannot apply for citizenship until they’ve held a “green card” for a minimum of five years.  Kamala Harris was born on October 20, 1964.  At best, her mother was a legal non-citizen resident of the US for just 4 years, 9 months, and 20 days when Sen. Harris was born.  Her father was, at best, a legal non-citizen resident for just 3 years, 9 months, and 20 days when she was born.  Neither parent could possibly have been a U.S. citizen when Kamala Harris was born.

 

What few Americans recognize is that there are only two (2) jobs in the entire United States… public sector and private sector combined… that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those two jobs are President and Vice President of the United States.  Ms. Harris can be Mayor of San Francisco, she can be Governor of California, she can be an Ambassador, she can be a Federal Judge, she can even be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  None of those jobs require “natural born” status.  But unless her parents were both US citizens when she was born, she cannot hold either the presidency or the vice presidency.  If she was born on American soil, she is a US citizen, but just being born on US soil does not make one a “natural born” citizen.  One must be born of two US citizen parents in order to qualify as “natural born.”

 

When the Founders met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the US Constitution, the physical scars of the War of Independence were still visible all around them and a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives.  So, is it even remotely conceivable that, just five years and eleven months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would allow an individual with dual/divided loyalties – e.g. an individual with dual US-British citizenship – to serve as president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy?  Not likely.  It is a preposterous notion on its face.  To believe that they would have done so requires a willing suspension of reason.  Nevertheless, the consensus among many in the political/legal world today is that the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen,” as used in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, are synonymous.  They are not!!

 

This issue is still being falsely characterized because liberals and Democrats simply cannot afford to have the “natural born” issue thoroughly examined.  If it were, the American people would finally come to understand that, at birth, Barack Obama held dual US-British citizenship by descent from his father and his mother.  To expose Obama’s lack of eligibility at this late date would create the greatest constitutional crisis in history and would likely tear the nation apart.

 

So, the question arises, is there proof of the contention that the Framers intended the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be mutually exclusive?  The answers is yes.  It all revolves around the purpose and the meaning of the tiny word “or,” which precedes a “grandfather clause” in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution

 

At the time the Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788, there were three types of citizens:

1)  The former British subjects who… having renounced all foreign allegiances and having
pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor… became citizens of
the United States when the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776;
2)  The post-Declaration children of those who became U.S. citizens on July 4, 1776, the first
“natural born” citizens of the United States, and all less than twelve years old at the time the
Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788; and

3)  A class of citizens comprised of those who emigrated to the United States after July 4, 1776,
having taken a loyalty oath and having renounced all foreign allegiances.

 

To fully understand the significance of the words, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…,” it is also necessary to recognize three significant dates:

1)  July 4, 1776, the date on which the Declaration of Independence was signed, making all
citizens of the thirteen colonies citizens of the United States;
2)  June 21, 1788, the date on which ratification by the State of New Hampshire made the
Constitution the official law of the land; and
3)  July 4, 1811, the date after which the first “natural born” citizens… those born to U.S.
citizens after the signing of the Declaration on July 4, 1776… became 35 years of age.

The Constitution requires that, in addition to being a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years, those who would seek the presidency must be at least thirty-five years of age.  However, the only “natural born” citizens available on June 21, 1788, the day the Constitution was ratified, were children under twelve years of age.  To solve that problem, the Framers added a “grandfather clause,” making it possible for newly-minted US citizens… all residents of the United States for at least fourteen years and all at least thirty-five years of age, but none of them “natural born” because they were born to parents who were not U.S. citizens prior to the day the Declaration of Independence was signed… to serve as president.  This was necessary until such time as a body of individuals, born subsequent to July 4, 1776, reached age thirty-five.

 

George Washington, our first president, was born at Wakefield, Virginia on February 22, 1732, forty-four years before the Declaration of Independence.  He was a “citizen,” but not a “natural

born” citizen because both of his parents were British subjects at the time of his birth.

 

John Adams, our second president, was born at Braintree, Massachusetts on October 30, 1735, forty-one years before the Declaration of Independence.  He was a “citizen” because he was born in Massachusetts, but he was not a “natural born” citizen because both of his parents were British subjects at the time of his birth and owed their allegiance to the British crown.

 

Thomas Jefferson, our third president, was born at Shadwell, Virginia on April 13, 1743, thirty-three years before the Declaration of Independence.  He was a “citizen” because he was born in Virginia, but he was not a “natural born” citizen because both of his parents were British subjects at the time of his birth.

James Madison, our fourth president, born in Virginia on March 16, 1751, twenty-five years before the Declaration of Independence; James Monroe, our fifth president, born in Virginia on April 28, 1758, eighteen years before the Declaration of Independence; John Quincy Adams, our sixth president, born in Massachusetts on July 11, 1767, nine years before the Declaration of Independence; and Andrew Jackson, our seventh president, born in South Carolina on March 15, 1767, nine years before the Declaration of Independence; were all “citizens” because they were born in what came to be the United States of America, but they were not “natural born” citizens because their parents were not US citizens at the time of their birth.

 

However, Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, was born at Kinderhook, New York on December 5, 1782, six years and five months after the Declaration of Independence.  Unlike his seven predecessors, he was not just a “citizen,” he was a “natural born” citizen… the first president, at least thirty-five years of age, who was born to US citizen parents after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

 

A great many patriotic, but ill-informed, Americans refuse to accept the fact that, while the Founders intended that only “natural born” citizens should ever serve as president, there were no 35-year-old “natural born” citizens available during the first 35 years of our nation’s history. Accordingly, it became necessary to provide an exemption of limited duration covering those citizens born prior to July 4, 1776.  All were “grandfathered” and made eligible under the phrase, “or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…”

 

Every U.S. president since Van Buren… with the exception of Republican Chester A. Arthur, whose Irish father was reportedly a British subject at the time of his birth, and Democrat Barack Obama, whose Kenyan father was also a British subject at the time of his birth… has been a “natural born” U.S. citizen, as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

 

The Framers found it inconceivable that a president of the United States, commander in chief of the Army and the Navy, should ever hold even partial allegiance to a foreign nation or be required to obey the laws of a foreign nation, as is the case with all dual citizens.  It is for this reason that the Constitution limits candidates for president and vice president to those who are “natural born” citizens, and to those who were citizens of the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted.  There can be no exceptions.

 

Were that not the case, and had the Framers considered the terms “citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be synonymous, Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution would now read, simply, “No Person except a Citizen of the United States 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.”

 

The Constitution of the United States is not set in stone.  Within its pages it provides for an orderly process with which it can be amended from time to time, as the need arises.  However, we are a nation of laws with a Constitution that must be enforced precisely as the Framers intended.  To turn our backs on the clear intent of even one single constitutional principle, for no better reason than political expediency, is an abomination.

 

In 2008, Democrats were able to craftily define the issue as one relating to Barack Obama’s place of birth, and to label those who insisted he lacked eligibility by reason of not being born on American soil as “birthers.”  It became the deadly “third rail” of the 2008 campaign, effectively preventing any honest debate of the issue.

 

Thusly, on two occasions in our political history we have allowed the presidential eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 to be twisted and contorted to fit the political mood of the day.  We cannot allow that to happen again.  We cannot allow our Constitution to be amended by popular fiat.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Open Letter to the GOP

Dear Republican Leaders:

Please allow me to introduce myself.  I am one of the millions of dedicated Republicans who are the backbone of our party.  Yes, I am one of the so-called “spear-carriers” who raise the party’s money, who recruit the candidates, who manage the campaigns, who walk the precincts, who put up the yard signs, who knock on the doors, who attend precinct caucuses, and who serve as delegates to county, state, and national conventions.  In short, I am one of those dedicated people who make it possible for you to occupy a position of leadership within our party.

In my case, if you will allow me a personal reference, during the course of more than fifty years as a party activist I have provided services to the party that are far beyond  what is normal for political activists.  During the period 1963-66 I organized and led a statewide election reform program in Oklahoma which brought the secret ballot to counties and precincts all across the state for the first time since statehood.  It was the beginning of the political renaissance that has made Oklahoma the reddest of red states in 2019.

A decade later, in 1975, I registered the very first corporate PAC with the Federal Election Commission, pioneering the corporate PAC movement and creating a level playing field with organized labor for the first time since the 1930s.  We brought enough new money into the political process to allow Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate just five years later.

Then, following Ronald Reagan’s inauguration in 1981, I proposed the formation of an RNC committee for the sole purpose of funneling money into states during the decade of the ‘80s where Republicans had the ability to gain control of at least one house of the state legislature prior to congressional redistricting in 1991.  Chairman Fahrenkopf then created the National Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (NRLCC) and in 1994, in the absence of widespread Democrat gerrymandering, Republicans took control of both houses of Congress.

The point is, in spite of all the hard work and dedication of millions of nameless, faceless, Republican activists, is it too much to ask that our state and national leaders show a bit of creativity while exercising their leadership responsibilities?  Allow me to mention just a few recent examples of Republican “messaging” failures.

In June 2016, when it appeared as if Donald Trump would be successful in his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Democrats were hard at work developing ways to either defeat or destroy him.  One of their principal efforts revolved around a strategy to paint him as colluding with Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton.  As a critical part of that effort they needed “optics;” they needed to plant real-life images in the minds of the American people of Trump campaign officials colluding with Russians.

The Trump organization should not have been surprised when a Russian attorney, Natalia Veselnitskaya, approached them, offering “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.  Understanding the value of good “opposition research,” especially that involving foreign affairs, three of Trump’s senior aides agreed to meet with Veselnitskaya at the Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016.  But when the Trump advisors realized that Veselnitskaya had no Clinton information that was of any real value to them, the meeting was quickly adjourned.

The Trump people wasted a few hours of their time, but the Democrats had the valuable “optics” they needed to launch their “Russian collusion” scheme.  After all, how could the Trump people ever prove what was not said behind closed doors?  Within hours, the mainstream media was all over the Trump campaign with charges of collusion.  But what was most distressing… and most damaging… was the fact that not a single Republican leader ever mentioned publicly the fact that Veselnitskaya had met with officials of Hillary Clinton’s opposition research consultant, Fusion GPS, both before and after the Trump Tower meeting.  Coincidence?  No, it was a setup that even a blind man could have recognized.  It was also a political victory of huge proportions for Democrats and a political blunder of gigantic proportions for Republicans.

When President Trump met with Vladimir Putin at their Helsinki summit on July 16, 2018, the two leaders met briefly behind closed doors with only their interpreters present.  The mainstream media were outraged.  What did they talk about?  What concessions did Trump make in order to gain approval for a luxury hotel in Moscow?  Outlandish speculation followed outlandish speculation.  Yet not a single Republican leader had the good sense to divert the criticism by suggesting that, like the surreptitious Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch meeting on the tarmac in Phoenix… while Hillary Clinton was under FBI investigation for violations of the Espionage Act… Trump and Putin discussed nothing more than their golf games and their grandchildren.

More recently, as the first of at least four Central American refugee caravans arrived at border crossing points in southern California, it became necessary to detain adult family members while their claims of asylum were being heard.  And since the available living facilities for asylum seekers was not appropriate for large numbers of children, it became necessary to separate parents and children for a short period of time.

It provided Democrats with a perfect opportunity to paint Trump administration immigration officials as cruel and heartless brutes who took great pleasure in snatching helpless children from the protective arms of their parents.  It was not a pretty picture.  However, as the days and weeks passed and the criticism mounted, not a single Republican leader could be heard mentioning the obvious… which is that more than 1.3 million men and women currently serve in the U.S. armed forces.  Of those, roughly 55 percent are married and 43 percent have children.   When those servicemen and women are deployed to overseas war zones they cannot take their children with them.  The parents, many of whom have been deployed more than once, are separated from their children for many months at a time.

Furthermore, the United States has the largest prison population in the world.  At any given time, some 2.2 million adults… one out of every 115… are in jail or prison.  More than 5 million American children (7 percent of all U.S. children) have had a parent incarcerated at some point in their lives, many for the rest of the parents’ lives.  Yet, as Trump administration officials were lambasted, day after day, with charges of breaking up family units, not a single Republican leader could be heard setting the record straight.  Once again, Republican leaders found it far more convenient to allow a Republican administration to be unfairly savaged by the radical left.

On January 21, 2019, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her candidacy for president of the United States.  Yet, not one single Republican leader has had the brains or the courage to do the necessary arithmetic.  They should have understood in an instant that U.S. law requires an immigrant to have permanent residency status (green card) for a minimum of five years before applying for U.S. citizenship.  Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, emigrated to the U.S. from southern India in 1960, while her father, Donald Harris, came to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1961.  They met while attending UC (Berkeley), they married, and their first daughter, Kamala, was born on October 20, 1964.  Simple arithmetic should tell us that neither of her parents could possibly have been U.S. citizens when their daughter, Kamala, was born.  She is, therefore, not a “natural born Citizen” as required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and cannot serve as president or vice president of the United States.

Now, in the early days of 2019, Democrats have presented Republicans with one of the finest political gifts in a lifetime.  In a Thursday, January 31, public appearance, Virginia’s Democrat governor, Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, gave his full-throated endorsement to a newly-introduced bill that would allow physicians to murder post-partem infants just minutes after birth.  Overnight, Northam became the toast of the Democrat Party.  No politician could have better satisfied the bloodlust of the radical left wing of the Democrat Party.

But what a difference a day makes. On Friday, February 1, it became known that the 1984  yearbook from the Eastern Virginia Medical School, Northam’s alma mater, contained a photo of him dressed as either a black-faced Negro or a Ku Klux Klansman.  Outrage was instantaneous.  Those who had fallen all over themselves trying to kiss his cheek on Thursday, clamored to drive a stake through his heart on Friday.  But, as might be expected, that was not the sentiment of all Democrats.  Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, a black man descended from slaves, continued to support his governor… all in the interest of party unity, of course.

It was the perfect metaphor for the soulless abomination the Democrat Party has become.  Unfortunately, as the party of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton self-destructs before our very eyes, it appears to be almost a non-event among Republican elites in Washington.  They appear totally unwilling or incapable of playing the political game exactly as the Democrats play it… down and dirty and for all the chips.

Part of the job of a political leader is to make it clear to their constituents what the opposition party is doing in their name and, as honestly, as directly, and as persistently as possible, shine a light on their failures.  But now that liberals and Democrats have dug themselves into a very deep hole, isn’t it time that Republican leaders picked up a shovel and filled it in?  Or have all my efforts of the past half century been  just another pointless intellectual exercise?

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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