“National citizenship gained significance only in the wake of the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment” (Haney López)

significance of the nationalization of citizenship vs. old state citizenship system / WBL p. 50

The lag between the enactment of a racial prerequisite for naturalization and its first legal test may partly reflect the relative insignificance of federal as opposed to state citizenship during this country’s first century. Prior to the Civil War, state citizenship was more important than federal citizenship for securing basic rights and privileges. National citizenship gained significance only in the wake of the Civil War and the Fourteenth Amendment. After 1870, “[a]ll persons born within the dominion and allegiance of the United States were citizens and constituents of the sovereign community. Their status with respect to the states depended upon this national status and upon their own choice of residence, and it could not be impeached or violated by state action.”[3] Thus, the spate of naturalization cases that began in 1878 may reflect the increased importance of national versus state citizenship after the civil war.

Ian F. Haney López, White By Law: The Legal Construction of Race (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 50.

 

  1. [3]Ichioka, supra, at 12.

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