On this day [March 26th] in 1790, the second session of the first Congress approved the new nation’s initial effort to codify the rules under which foreign-born persons could become U.S. citizens.
The Naturalization Act of 1790 specified that “any alien, being a free white person,” could apply for citizenship, so long as he or she lived in the United States for at least two years, and in the state where the application was filed for at least a year.
Politicians are so creative when it comes to ways to violate individual rights and they are downright masters at the arbitrary. Why was citizenship only for whites? Why the two year residency clause? Why not one or three?
Frankly, I am not sure if citizenship ought to be granted to just anyone who applies for it, and I don't know that anyone should have it by birthright. Of course, the real question is, what does it mean to be a citizen? What special privileges would that get you in a society that does respect and protect individual rights (since all individuals have the same rights)? Should everyone have the privilege of voting as long as they reside in a country, for example, or should voting be reserved only for citizens?
These are questions I do not currently have answers for, but I will continue to think on them. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to comment.
As a side note, here's another interesting tidbit from the article:
The nation’s eighth president, Martin Van Buren, was the first one to be born in the United States after the Constitution was enacted.