Last updated on: 1/30/2017 | Author:

Mar. 26, 1790 – First Alien Naturalization Act Enacted by the Newly Created US Government

“The original [1790 Alien Naturalization Act] provided the first rules to be followed by all of the United States in the granting of national citizenship. At that time and by that law naturalization was limited to aliens who were ‘free white persons’ and thus left out indentured servants, slaves, and most women, all of whom were considered dependents and thus incapable of casting an independent vote. The 1790 Act also limited naturalization to persons of ‘good moral character.’ And the law required a set period of residence in the United States prior to naturalization, specifically two years in the country and one year in the state of residence when applying for citizenship. When those requirements were met, an immigrant could file a Petition for Naturalization with ‘any common law court of record’ having jurisdiction over his residence asking to be naturalized. Once convinced of the applicant’s good moral character, the court would administer an oath of allegiance to support the Constitution of the United States. The clerk of court was to make a record of these proceedings, and ‘thereupon such person shall be considered as a citizen of the United States.’ It is from this structure of steps and requirements that U.S. naturalization evolved.”