Citizenship Requirements in the House

Thomas Jefferson

James Sharples Senior, 1796-1797

Independence National Historical Park

Citizenship Requirements in the House

"We should be made one nation in every case concerning foreign affairs, and separate ones in whatever is merely domestic. That the Federal government should be organized into Legislative executive and judiciary as are the state governments, and some peaceable means of enforcement devised for the federal head over the states."

-Thomas Jefferson (in Paris) to John Blair and Richard Cary

The session began by reconsidering the requirement that House members be seven years a citizen. Wilson (PA) and Randolph (VA) moved for 4 years, Williamson (NC) moved to require nine, Hamilton (NY) and Madison (VA) moved to require only residence and citizenship, letting Congress determine the length and Gerry (MA) and Butler (SC) [himself an immigrant] opposed admitting foreigners to Congress in any case. Wilson's motion was supported by only CT, MD, and VA. G. Morris moved to except anyone now a citizen; Mercer (MD) seconded, Rutledge (VA), Sherman (CT), Gorham (MA), C. Pinckney (SC), Mason (VA), and Baldwin (GA) opposed the motion, Madison supported it, and it lost.

At this point, Carroll (MD) moved to reduce the citizenship requirement for House to 5years. The motion lost.

Wilson next tried to reduce the requirement for Senators from 9 to 7 years, and lost.

Randolph then moved to reinstate the requirement that money bills originate in the House. Mason supported him, as did Gerry, and Dickinson (DE), Wilson, G. Morris and Rutledge opposed. Carroll and McHenry (MD) pointed out the difficulty of defining money bills and the violent disputes this had caused between Maryland's Senate and House.

The provision lost.

Tuesday, August 14, 1787
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