By Cindy Simpson
The American Thinker
August 1, 2010
Recently discovered in a Manhattan library's records: In 1789, George Washington borrowed a copy of Emmerich de Vattel's "The Law of Nations" and never returned it. Many historians have documented this important treatise as the basis for much of the Constitution's framework. Vattel's book includes this interesting statement:
I say, that, in order to be of the country, it is necessary that a person be born of a father who is a citizen; for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.
Vattel seems to equate the phrase "of the country" with the concept of patriotism and implies that this feeling arises not from geography, but from the moment of birth within the family. (Note that "patriotism" has the Greek root patrios, "of one's father.") Aristotle discussed this notion of allegiance that arises from family ties versus place in his Politics, Book 3.
Proponents of the view that the founders relied on Vattel and understood the significance of "citizen by consent" versus "subject by birth" were also excited to learn of the recent discovery of Jefferson's deliberate smudge on the Declaration. Many so-called birthers and opponents of the practice of "birthright citizenship" rely on this conceptual distinction and Vattel's definition of "natural-born citizen" in their arguments against Obama's presidential eligibility.
Much of the hullabaloo over Obama's birthplace misses the central point of these philosophers' contentions, simply put in the old but wise saying: "Home is where the heart is." Obviously, it is critical for many reasons that our leader behold America as the apple of his eye. Personally, I believe Obama's birthplace is indeed Hawaii. But now that his home is in the White House, his heart-place becomes the pivotal question.