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The term "citizen of the United States" first appears in those articles of the Constitution of the United States which provide for the qualifications of members of Congress and of the President. The phrase was first suggested by Mr. Pinckney in the Federal Convention of 1787, but in none of the discussions of that body do we find any attempt to define its meaning, though it seems to have been taken for granted that a citizen of any State was necessarily a citizen of the United States. The United States of America had existed for many years before the adoption of the Federal Constitution. That name had been assumed in the Declaration of Independence and repeated in the Articles of Confederation. Since the States retained their original sovereignty as to all matters of internal concern it could only have been their citizens to whom the Constitution referred as those who had been for nine years citizens of the United States. But that a citizen of the United States must thereafter always be a citizen of a State was obviously not true. A naturalized alien, a resident in territory of the United States outside of any particular State, or of the District of Columbia, might be a citizen of the United States without being a citizen of any State. But of so little importance was the case of such persons considered that no provision was made to give the ordinary Courts of the United States jurisdiction over controversies to which they might be parties. This anomalous condition of things was commented on by Chief Justice Marshall early in the century as "extraordinary," but has remained unaltered to the present time. As soon, however, as a naturalized alien took up his residence in any State, it was held that he became a citizen of that .State, though not necessarily an elector of it.
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