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Race and Citizenship in the Early Republic Essay

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Updated: Apr 1st, 2019

The USA has come though many different periods of time which are characterized by various situations and events. Still, it is possible to state that he problem of immigration has always been crucial for the country. The USA government has always tried to solve the problem of immigration and citizenship.

The number of policies and acts which focus on this issue is one of the main ways US government tried to solve the problem. Naturalization Act of 1790 was one of the first documents which tried to regulate the process of immigration and citizenship by means of stating strong requirements and limitations on those who wanted to get US citizenship and get rid of the immigrant label.

Generally, the situation was as follows, there were many immigrants and they wanted to struggle for their rights. The idea of citizenship was the central. Therefore, the Naturalization Act of 1790 was necessary, but those who demanded for regulation of the procedure of the US citizenship could not imagine that the document was going to be too limited prejudiced.

Before dwelling upon the Naturalization Act of 1790, it should be stated that the slavery was not abolished when the act was accepted, but it moved to the South more, leaving the North American black people more freedom. Thus, the Naturalization Act of 1790 was accepted with the purpose to regulate immigration and the procedure of the citizenship.

Considering the document under discussion, it is important to say that it cannot be called the liberal one as a lot of restrictions and the cases of discrimination were noticed there. Thus, the citizenship could be got by

any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof, on application to any common law court of record, in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such court, that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law, to support the Constitution of the United States.. (Naturalization Act n.p.)

However, the main requirement was the belonging to the “white” race. Reading the document, it becomes obvious that it avoids gender discrimination. Thus, stating the word “person”, the document creators allow women to have the US citizenship. The point is rather strange as remembering the gender relations of that time, men were dominating even though the cases of business women took place.

One more significant fact was devoted to children born abroad and here the gender discrimination remains. Thus, those children who were born abroad could become the citizens of the USA only in case the father was the citizen of the county. Mothers could not give their children to grant the status of natural born citizen

Therefore, it is possible to conclude that the main idea of the document was not to allow people to have citizenship in the USA it was directed more on the restrictions and imitations of the document.

Thus, African-Americans and Asians were not allowed to have the USA citizenship as well as children who were born abroad but have mothers as the US citizens. So, even though women themselves were allowed to have a citizenship under some circumstances, the act comprised racial and gender discrimination aspects.

Works Cited

Naturalization Act. 1790. Web.

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