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But in regulating commerce with foreign nations the power of congress does not stop at the jurisdictional lines of the several states. It would be a very useless power if it did. The commerce of the United States with foreign nations is that of the whole United States. Every district has a right to participate in it. If congress has the power to regulate it, that power must be exercised wherever the subject exists. If it exists within the states, if a foreign voyage may commence or terminate at a port within a state, then the power of congress may be exercised within a state.
This principle is, if possible, still more clear when applied to commerce “among the several states." They either join each other, in which case they are separated by a mathematical line; or they are remote from each other, in which case other states lie between them. What is commerce “ among” them, and how is it to be conducted? Can a trading expedition between two adjoining states commence and terminate outside of each? And if the trading intercourse be between two states remote from each other, must it not commence in one, terminate in the other, and probably pass through a third ? Commerce among the states must, of necessity be commerce within the states. In the regulation of trade with the Indian tribes, the action of the law, especially when the constitution was made, was chiefly within a state. The power of congress, then, may be exercised within the territorial jurisdiction of the several states."
In respect to commerce with the Indian tribes, we are to adopt the same broad interpretation; but it is applicable only to independent tribes. It is immaterial whether such tribes continue seated within the boundaries of a state, inhabit part of a territory, or roam at large over lands to which the United States have no claim; the trade with them is in all its forms, subject
exclusively to the regulation of congress, and in this particular also we trace the wisdom of the constitution. T'he Indians, not distracted by the discordant regulations of different states, are taught to trust one great body, whose justice they respect, and whose power they fear.
The power to establish an uniform system of naturalization is also an exclusive one.
In the second section of the fourth article it is provided that the citizens of each state, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states, and the same rule had been ambiguously laid down in the articles of confederation. If this clause is retained, and its utility and propriety cannot be questioned, the consequence would be, that if each state retained the power of naturalization, it might impose on all the other states, such citizens as it might think proper. In one state, residence for a short time, with a slight declaration of allegiance, as was the case under the former constitution of Pennsylvania, might confer the rights of citizenship; in another, qualifications of greater importance might be required: an alien, desirous of eluding the latter, might by complying with the requisites of the former, become a citizen of a state in opposition to its own regulations, and thus in fact, the laws of one state become paramount to that of another. The evil could not be better remedied than by vesting the exclusive power in congress. It cannot escape notice, that no definition of the nature and rights of citizens appears in the constitution. The descriptive term is used, with a plain indication that its meaning is understood by all, and this indeed is the general character of the whole instrument. Except in one instance, it gives no definitions, but it acts in all its parts, on qualities and relations supposed to be
already known. Thus it declares, that 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—that no person shall be a senator who shall not have been nine years a citizen of the United States, nor a representatire who has not been such a citizen seven years, and it will therefore be not inconsistent with the scope and tendency of the present essay, to enter shortly into the nature of citizenship.
In a republic the sovereignty resides essentially, and entirely in the people. Those only who compose the people, and partake of this sovereignty are citizens, they alone can elect, and are capable of being elected to public offices, and of course they alone can exercise authority over the community; they possess an unqualified right to the enjoyment of property and personal immunity, they are bound to adhere to it in peace, to defend it in war, and to postpone the interests of all other countries to the affection which they ought to bear for their own.
The citizens of each state constituted the citizens of the United states wben the constitution was adopted. The rights which appertained to them as citizens of those respective commonwealths, accompanied them in the formation of the great, compound commonwealth which ensued. They became citizens of the latter, without ceasing to be citizens of the former, and he who was subsequently born the citizen of a state, became at the moment of his birth a citizen of the United States. Therefore every person born within the United States, its territories or districts, whether the parents are citizens or aliens, is 'a natural born citizen in the sense of the constitution, and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity. It is an error
to suppose as some, (and even so great a mind as Locke) have done, that a child is born a citizen of no country and subject of no government, and that he so continues till the age of discretion, when he is at liberty to put himself under what government he pleases. How far the adult possesses this power will hereafter be considered, but surely it would be unjust both to the state and to the infant, to withbold the quality of the citizen until those years of discretion were attained. Under our constitution the question is settled by its express language, and when we are informed that, excepting those who were citizens, (however the capacity was acquired,) at the time the constitution was adopted, no person is eligible to the office of president unless he is a natural born citizen, the principle that the place of birth creates the relative quality is established as
The mode by which an alien may become a citizen, has a specific appellation which refers to the same principle. It is descriptive of the operation of law as analogous to birth, and the alien, received into the community by naturalization, enjoys all the benefits which birth has conferred on the other class.
Until these rights are attained, the alien resident is under some disadvantages which are not exactly the same throughout the union. The United States do not intermeddle with the local regulations of the states in those respects. Thus an alien may be admitted to hold lands in some states, and be incapable of doing so in others. On the other hand, there are certain incidents to the character of a citizen of the United States, with which the separate states cannot interfere. The nature, extent, and duration of the allegiance due to the United States, the right to the general protection and to commercial benefits at home and abroad, derived either from treaties or from the acts of con
gress, are beyond the control of the states, nor can they increase or diminish the disadvantages to which aliens may by such measures on the part of the general government, be subjected.
Thus if war should break out between the United States and the country of which the alien resident among us is a citizen or subject, he becomes on general principles an alien enemy, and is liable to be sent out of the country at the pleasure of the general government, or laid under reasonable restraints within it, and in these respects no state can interfere to protect him.
The duration of the quality of citizen, both in the native and in him who is naturalized, is a subject of considerable interest.
The doctrine of indefeasible allegiance has a deeper root in England than in any other country in Europe, the term is indeed almost peculiar to the English law, and in discussing the extent to which they carry it, we shall find it useful to ascend to the source of their government, and the foundation on which this doctrine is placed.
Whatever repugnance may occasionally be felt at the avowal, the present government of England must be considered as founded on conquest, and perhaps it is justly observed by some of their historians, that in no instance has conquest by foreign arms been pushed to a greater extent than with them.
The reluctance with which a brave and generous nation submitted to the yoke, increased the exasperation, and the tyranny of their conqueror. Their property was almost completely transferred to his mili. tary followers, their ancient laws were soon disregarded, although sometimes promised to be restored, and the pure feudal system of tenure was substituted to the ancient, allodial estates, or perhaps the imperfect feuds of the Saxons.