Expatriation: Should You Renounce Your Citizenship?

By Randy L. Geiszler

Recently I received a letter, which letter, and response thereto, you will find in the letters section of this issue of Behold! And, which letter raised the question in the above title. An article was recently published in Eye of the Eagle, July issue, vol. 1, no. 3, p. 9, last column, last paragraph, wherein Lee Borsht suggested that Congress had passed a resolution "whereby a citizen could declare his independence from the 14th amendment." The so-called resolution spoken of was the Act of July 27, 1868, Ch. 249, 15 Stat. 223-224, set out for your review below.

CHAP. CCXLIX. An Act concerning the Rights of American Citizens in foreign States. Whereas the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and whereas in the recognition of this principle this government has freely received emigrants from all nations, and invested them with the rights of citizenship; and whereas it is claimed that such American citizens, with their descendants, are subjects of foreign states, owing allegiance to the governments thereof; and whereas it is necessary to the maintenance of public peace that this claim of foreign allegiance should be promptly and finally disavowed: Therefore, Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any declaration, instruction, opinion, order, or decision of any officers of the government which denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation, is hereby declared inconsistent with the fundamental principles of this government.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, that all naturalized citizens of the United States, while in foreign states, shall be entitled to, and shall receive from this government, the same protection of persons and property that is accorded to native-born citizens in like situations and circumstances.

Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That whenever it shall be made known to the President that any citizen of the United States has been unjustly deprived of his liberty by or under the authority of any foreign government, it shall be the duty of the President forthwith to demand of that government the reasons for such imprisonment, and if it appears to be wrongful in violation of the rights of American Citizenship, the President shall forthwith demand the release of such citizen, and if the release so demanded is unreasonably delayed or refused, it shall be the duty of the President to use such means, not amounting to acts of war, as he may think necessary and proper to obtain or effectuate such release, and all the facts and proceedings relative there to shall as soon as practicable be communicated by the President to Congress.

Approved, July 27, 1868.

The actual quote from the Eye of the Eagle is as follows: "To further clarify the 14th Amendment was not binding, the Congress on July 27, 1868, passed a resolution whereby a citizen could declare his independence form the 14th Amendment..." First of all, the List of Public Acts and Resolutions of Congress, appearing in the front of volume 15 of the United States Statutes at Large, where the above act is officially recorded, cites the act under Public Acts of Congress, not under the section which indexes "resolutions." If you refer to volume 15, United States Statutes at Large, you will find that "Acts" and "Resolutions, public and private, are treated separately, under their respective classifications, in the listing. Notice that the title to the above act treats the same as "An Act" &, etc., not a "Resolution." Also notice that the act, in its enacting clauses, states that it "enacts" rather that "resolves" the text following such clause. While Representative Van Trump said that "it may partake more of the nature of a resolution than a law; a declaration of opinion more than a rule of action for both the Government and the citizen," (Congressional Globe, March 10, 1868, p. 1801) during debate of the above act in the House, congress treated the legislation as an act, with the support of Mr. Van Trump. In a later discussion of H.R. 768, which became the above act, it is clear that the "act" was intended to be more than a "resolution."
"Mr. BAKER. I would prefer to have this in the form of a joint resolution.
Mr. BANKS. That is a mere declaration. It does not reach the purpose which the Committee on Foreign Affairs has in view. We want something more than that. With great respect for the opinions of the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. BAKER], I cannot yield to allow that amendment to be moved." Congressional Globe, April 20, 1868, p. 2311.

Next, notice the preamble to the act following the word "Whereas," in the first paragraph, which states the purpose of the act. While I can see how this act might be construed to have the meaning Mr. Brobst attributes to it, considering the general purpose stated in the preamble to the act, I questioned whether that was the intention of congress, considering the fact that white citizens were not intended to be contemplated within the provisions of the (statutory) 14th amendment in the first place. The act gave me the impression that the intention was generally related to the rights of expatriation of foreigners to this country and to protect their rights as naturalized citizens when they traveled abroad. Considering the fact that the first civil rights act (Act of April 9, 1866, Ch. 31, s. 1, 14 Stat. 27) was already passed by congress under the thirteenth amendment, and considering that congress therein purported to make all persons born or naturalized in the United States, not subject to any foreign power, citizens, the word "citizen" as used in the above act (15 Stat. 223-224) would have included other than white persons within its meaning. This caused me to question the accuracy of Mr. Brobst's assertion further.

Consequently, I reviewed the congressional record, concerning the above act, to determine congress real purpose. But, before we go into the congressional record, it might be helpful for you to define the term "expatriation."

"EXPATRIATION. The voluntary act of abandoning one's country and becoming a citizen or subject of another.

"2. Citizens of the United States have the right to expatriate themselves until restrained by congress; but it seems that a citizen cannot renounce his allegiance to the United States without the permission of government, to be declared by law. To be legal, the expatriation must be for a purpose which is not unlawful, or in fraud of the duties of the emigrant at home.

"3. A citizen may acquire in a foreign country commercial privileges attached to his domical, and be exempted from operation of commercial acts embracing only persons resident in the United States or under its protection. [citations omitted]...." Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 8th Ed. 1859.

"EXPATRIATION. The voluntary act of abandoning one's country, and becoming a citizen or subject of another. See Emigration." Blacks Law Dictionary, 1st Ed. 1891.

"EMIGRATION, The act of changing ones domicile from one country or state to another. "It is to be distinguished from 'expatriation." The latter means the abandonment of one's country and renunciation of one's citizenship in it, while emigration denotes merely the removal of person and property to a foreign state. The former is usually the consequence of the latter. Emigration is also used of the removal from one section to another of the same country." Black Law Dictionary, 1st Ed. 1891. After reading the above definitions you can see how important it is to determine what the questioned act means. If one chose to renounce citizenship and it were taken the wrong way he could virtually be ejected from the country. And, I must reiterate, what need is there to renounce the citizenship contemplated within the 14th amendment when it doesn't apply to you as a white citizen in the first place. "I. Purpose of the Clause. 1. In General. -- The main object of the opening sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment was to settle the question, upon which there had been a difference of opinion throughout the country and in the courts, as to the citizenship of Negroes..." Federal Statutes Annotated, Vol. 9, p. 385. Clearly the first section of the declaratory 14th amendment was passed to give those of African decent some form of citizenship, while there is no provision in the original constitution for altering the body of original citizenship, established by the Declaration of Independence which recognized only on race in its members, that is free whites. The Congress and the supreme Court, by later acceptance of the 14th amendment citizenship are guilty of treason against the constitution for the united States of America which is evidenced by Marshall v. Donovan, (1874) 10 Bush Ky. 687. "It was held, in the celebrated Dred Scott case, by the Supreme Court of the United States, that a man of African descent, whether a slave or not, was not and could not be a citizen of the state or of the United States; and, notwithstanding the criticism to which this adjudication was subjected, it was never overruled; and the primary object of the Fourteenth Amendment was to relieve this race from the disabilities therein declared to be inherent in and inseparable from the African blood." Marshal v. Donovan, (1874) 10 Bush (Ky.) 687. The statutory legal privileges we were defrauded into accepting, that gave us a legal character similar to that of the 14th amendment citizen, can be renounced, on the basis of fraud, without a declaration renouncing citizenship.

Would it not be better to declare that we are a citizen in the state of __________, and thereby in the united States, without purview of the statutory 14th amendment? This goes back to the original order of citizenship. Originally one was a citizen in a state and through that citizenship was treated as having a national character for only specific purposes such as privileges and immunities set out in Article 4, Section 2, of the Constitution for the united States of America.

"The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States." Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1 The statutory 14th amendment, on the other hand, purports to reverse the order by making one a citizen of the United States, first, and thereby a citizen of the State wherein he was born, and again, this was not intended to apply to white state citizens. "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside...." Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1. "2. Clause Reverses Previous Rule of Citizenship. Prior to the adoption of this amendment, strictly speaking, there were no citizens of the United States, but only of someone of them. Congress had the power 'to establish a uniform rule of naturalization,' but not the power to make a naturalized alien a citizen of a state. But the states generally provided that such persons might, on sufficient residence therein, become citizens thereof, and then the courts held ab convenienti, rather than otherwise, that they became ipso facto citizens of the United States. But the amendment declares the law positively on the subject, and reverses this order of procedure, by making citizenship of a state consequent on citizenship of the United States; for, having declared what persons are citizens of the United States, it does not stop there, and leave it in the power of a state to exclude any such person who may reside therein from its citizenship, but adds, 'and such persons shall also be citizens of the state wherein they reside.'" Federal Statutes Annotated, Vol. 9, p. 387. In the House of Representatives, the act here in question was debated as House Resolution No. 768.

The debate appearing in The Congressional Globe makes it clear that the cause for the legislation was England's long-standing disregard for American naturalized citizens, who had been her former subjects. England, since the revolution of the colonies treated her subjects as her property, and on convenient occasions would abscond with these naturalized citizens when they were sojourning in England. The intention of congress, in the statute in question, is revealed by a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, from which the bill was introduced to the floor of the House. "...There has never been an attempt to embody in a legislative act the American theory upon the subject of expatriation coupled with any principle of action that would compel other nations to consider and decide upon the claims we presented to them." Congressional Globe, March 10, 1868, p. 1798, statement of Mr. Banks, Committed of Foreign Affairs. "It is apparent that the action of the Government, whatever it may be, must be accompanied by some principle or power which will be able to produce an effect upon the legislation of other countries or the action of other Governments in reference to the rights of our naturalized citizens." I bid. According to Mr. Van Trump (Ibid., p. 1801), the question that was before the house, in debating the act here in question, was "revived by recent events and acts of aggression and outrage on the rights of our naturalized citizens by the British Government..." The debate over H.R. 768, April 20, 1868, again reveals the intention of congress in passing the act here in question, through the statement of Representative Banks, Committee of Foreign Affairs. "It is legislation for the purpose of affecting the action of other Governments. Ordinarily legislation is for the purpose of affecting our own Government. Here we purpose to affect the action of foreign Governments, of European Governments, and that gives it a distinctive character as a legislative act...."If my colleague is willing that citizens of the United States shall be arrested in foreign countries for acts done and words spoken here; if he is willing that a member of this House, as one of its members - a native born citizen of Massachusetts was once so arrested by a foreign Government for no crime committed against that Government then his amendment is well adapted to effect his object. It presents a case past argument. If such legislation answers the purpose of the House, we have nothing to say. It is not an affair of ours. The Committee on Foreign Affairs reports this bill as the measure best calculated in the judgment of its members to secure from other Governments the recognition of the rights we claim on behalf of naturalized as well as native-born American citizens." Congressional Globe, April 20, 1868, p. 2312. It is clear from the text of the Congressional Globe that the act here in question was for the purpose of providing the president with the power of reprisal against foreign governme nts, particularly, although not exclusively, England, when the foreign government refused to recognize the naturalization of its subjects or citizens as American citizens. There is not even an intimation in the debates concerning the act that it was intended to allow one to "declare his independence from the 14th amendment. Renunciation of citizenship is a very serious matter and shouldn't be taken lightly. Since the statutory 14th amendment wasn't intended to have application to white citizens born or naturalized in America, (Van Valkenburg v. Brown, (1872) 43 Cal.43) it is evident that renunciation of citizenship is totally unnecessary for a white citizen to be independent of the statutory 14th amendment. All that is necessary is alleging and evidencing those facts which make you an American citizen within the original meaning, and those facts which show that you have not applied for, or obtained, any semblance of the legal character of persons set out in the statutory 14th amendment and its attending civil rights acts, e.g. you are a white citizen born or naturalized in a State who has not acquired any legal character outside, or in contradiction of, his original birthright or status. For obvious reasons an alien or a statutory citizen does not hold the same rights as a natural citizen. The original constitution was adopted by American citizens, who's citizenship preceded the constitution and the government it formed. On the other hand, the statutory citizen received his citizenship via statute, as a privilege rather than a natural right, and the alien sojourns in America at the pleasure of the natural citizens, expressed through the government formed by them. The preamble to the original constitution for the united States of America shows that it was adopted by WE THE PEOPLE for the protection of ourselves and our posterity, not necessarily for the protection of aliens or other privileged persons. A declaration of expatriation, made by a white citizen, could easily be mistaken as a renunciation of your membership in our posterity.

Therefore, a declaration, made under the statute here in question, rather than declaring independence from the statutory 14th amendment, would be a declaration of alienation, bringing you outside the scope of protection of your inherent, natural, unalienable and inalienable rights, intended for citizens, by the letter and spirit of the constitution. In other words, by such a declaration, in opposite affect from what you had intended, the limitations against the government, set out in the original constitution, for the protection of the natural citizen, might be removed, leaving you in a worsened legal condition. As I have said many times in the past, the natural white American citizen holds his legal status as a matter of natural right over which congress has no power to legislate, nor can congress legitimately legislate respecting other natural rights of such American citizens. If congress has the power to legislate to give us our rights, then congress has power to legislate to take them away. Congress has no such power. For defense of our rights we need no legislation, only a violation of our rights, and a lawful judicial court, having jurisdiction to take cognizance of cases and controversies arising from a trespass of those rights. The natural white American citizen doesn't need the civil rights acts, nor the usurpative legislative amendments under which they were written. Even Congress understood this in 1868. "Mr. JENCKES. Will the gentleman inform the House what declaration is made in any part of this bill as to what is the American law upon the subject of expatriation? "Mr. BANKS. It is a subject which, in our opinion, ought not to be legislated upon. Now, I want my friend from Rhode Island [Mr. JENCKES] to say to me whether he is willing that the right of speech, the right of petition, the right to assemble in public meeting, the right to bear arms, shall be made dependent upon the statutes of the Government? I want him to say to me whether my right, or his right, to hear, to see, to smell, to feel, or to walk is to be made dependent upon an act of the American Congress? No, sir; this comes within the scope and character of natural rights which no Government has the right to control and which no Government can confer. And wherever this subject is alluded to in the Constitution - a Constitution framed by wise men it is in the declaration that Congress shall have no power whatever to legislate upon these matters." Congressional Globe, April 20, 1868, p. 2316. The above sentiment of representative Banks shows that, at least, some members of the House believed that acts of legislation, such as the first Civil Rights Acts, which had recently been passed, did not, and could not, confer natural rights upon persons of color for whose benefit same where enacted; nor, for that matter, could any act of legislation confer natural rights on anyone, regardless what government might enact the legislation, and regardless for whose benefit the legislation was intended. Finally it appears that the act here in question was adopted before promulgation of the 14th amendment, which further discloses the fact that its purpose had no reference to said amendment. "This amendment was proposed to the legislatures of the several states by joint resolution of Congress dated June 16, 1866, 14 Stat. L. 358. On July 21, 1868, Congress adopted and transmitted to the department of state a concurrent resolution declaring that 'the legislatures of the states of Connecticut, Tennessee, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Missouri, Indiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama, South Carolina and Louisiana, being three-fourths and more of the several states of the Union, have ratified the Fourteenth Article of Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, duly proposed by two-thirds of each House of the Thirty-ninth Congress: Therefore, Resolved, that said Fourteenth Article is hereby declared to be a part of the Constitution of the United States, and it shall be duly promulgated as such by the secretary of state.' The secretary of state accordingly issued a proclamation, dated July 28, 1868, 15 Stat. L. 708, declaring that the proposed Fourteenth Amendment has been ratified..." Federal Statutes Annotated, Vol. 9, p. 384.

The question leaps out to be answered: How can Congress by proposal and resolution, with or without the state legislatures, alter the established rule of citizenship, done in convention of the people, without the people in convention approving this change in their body, as required by Article Five, Constitution for the united States of America. No conventions of the people (free white) were held according to the procedures required by Article Five, and the procedures actually used could only purport to be valid as a procedure for ratification under Article I, Section 8, Clause 17. The citizens purportedly created by the 14th amendment are not a proper subject matter under Article I, Section 8, Clause 17, and therefore, must be considered as unauthorized. Within the original meaning and intent of the constitution only an American and a State citizenship are authorized. The District of Columbia is not a state; it is not authorized to create any citizen within its exclusive jurisdiction. In conclusion, the Act of July 27, 1868, Ch. 249, 15 Stat.223-224, is not a "resolution", but an "act;" is of no use to the natural white citizen, and doesn't provide a means "whereby a citizen could declare his independence from the 14th Amendment; " and, in fact, said statute, if taken advantage of, by declaration of expatriation, by such natural white citizen, could very well be detrimental to future protection of his or her inalienable and unalienable rights as an American citizen within the original meaning.

In answer to the question posed by the title to this article: No, you should not renounce your citizenship! Instead, one should claim and clarify the citizenship of his birthright, outside purview of the statutory 14th amendment. Both Robert W. Wangrud and I have had our citizenship Judicially noticed, without purview of the statutory 14th amendment, and without a declaration of expatriation.

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