Citizenship. The term citizen implies membership in a political community, and involves on the one side his allegiance to and support of that community, and on the other the protection of the citizen by the community. It does not imply the right to vote or to hold office. These privileges may be and often are withheld from citizens, while granted to those who are not citizens. This modern use of the term citizen must be contrasted with the original use, which prevailed among the Greeks, and which is thus defined by Aristotle: A citizen is one who has the right to take part in both the deliberative and judicial proceedings of the community of which he is a member. Our idea of citizen is related to that of subject, as that term was used in England when this country separated itself from England; for a subject meant one who owes allegiance to the king and demands protection from him. The country with us takes the place of the king,—that is the difference. By the original constitution of the United States it was left uncertain whether citizenship related in the first place to the state and only secondarily to the nation, or vice versa. The fourteenth amendment, passed by Congress in 1866, approved by the requisite number of states and proclaimed law in 1868, decrees that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. This made national citizenship fundamental, and declared that state citizenship follows from it. Those living in territories and the District of Columbia are not citizens of any state, though they may be citizens of the United States.

Citizenship does not rest on descent, fundamentally, but on the fact of birth on the soil of the United States. A person born of alien parents on the soil of the United States, unless he reserves allegiance to the country of his parents, is a citizen. Exceptions are Indians not taxed and persons born in the Philippine Islands until they shall be declared a territory (Supreme Court decision, May 1901). Citizenship is extended to those born abroad of a father who is a citizen, and to an alien woman married to a citizen (Acts of Congress, April, 1802, and Feb., 1855). The third extension of citizenship is to naturalized persons. To be naturalized the alien must have declared his intention to become a bona fide citizen at least two years before admission, must have resided in this country five years, and must swear that he does not believe in polygamy or disbelieve in organized government. He must speak English. An alien landing before he is 18 may be naturalized at 23 without a previous declaration of intention. The fourth extension is to one whose father is an alien, and who himself was born abroad, but who is under 21 and resides in this country when his father is naturalized.

Citizenship does not give the right of suffrage, and suffrage may be conferred without citizenship. Female citizens in most and illiterate or propertyless citizens are in some states deprived of a vote; while on the other hand many states extend the right to vote to those who have not yet become citizens, but have declared their intention to do so. The fourteenth and fifteenth amendments do not require that citizens be permitted to vote. The fourteenth amendment declares that what privileges and immunities citizens possess by the laws of the state and the nation shall not be abridged. But voting is not such a privilege. The fifteenth amendment simply declares that, whatever limitation the state may impose in the matter of voting, it shall not be based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.”

In ancient states the right to trade and to the protection of the laws rested upon citizenship. But this rule does not prevail in modern civilized states. Citizenship also means membership in a city, and then largely refers to the rights that follow from the fact of being taxed. The member of any republic, as that of France, is called a citizen. A British subject also styles himself a British citizen, because of the democratic basis of his government.