A historical curiosity:
Some birthers are falling back on a second line of defense: even if President Obama was born in this country, his father was not. Obama is accordingly disqualified as a “native-born” but not a “natural-born” citizen.
This distinction is a recycled Democratic talking point from the election of 1916. The father of the GOP candidate, Charles Evans Hughes, was born in Britain. A Democratic lawyer, Breckenridge Long, wrote a pamphlet arguing that Hughes was accordingly ineligible. I’m amazed to see that the pamphlet is available online.
The Long argument did not pass muster. A dozen years later, the Republicans again nominated a candidate with a foreign born parent, Herbert Hoover. (Hoover’s mother was born in the village of Norwich, Ontario, Canada, about 80 km west of Hamilton.) This time the “native-born” candidate won – and was duly inaugurated. Issue closed. Or so it was assumed until now.
Breckenridge Long went on to serve as President Franklin Roosevelt’s immigration commissioner, where he made it his personal mission to exclude from the United States Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and occupied Europe.