25 August 2015

On This Day: Naturalization explained

Naturalization – that is, the process of becoming a naturalized citizen – was explained On This Day in 1880 by the Lancaster Daily Intelligencer.  

If one arrived in the US after the age of 18, he had to make a declaration of intent to become a citizen. After a waiting period, he was entitled to his papers for the court. The rules were slightly different for those who were not yet 18 upon arrival. While they still had papers to file, they did not have to make a declaration of intent. 

A declaration was then required stating that the applicant supports the US Constitution and that he renounces any and all former allegiances. This means the immigrant no longer supported the country of their birth. 

The court also required witnesses. This was supposed to be someone who knew the person and could vouch for their person. Supposed to be and was are two different things here. It is known now – and it probably was then too – that people stood up for others because they were paid to, or they were of the same ethnic background, or because they were actually friends or family.  


Lancaster Daily Intelligencer. (Lancaster, PA), 25 August 1880. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Library of Congress.  


On This Day is a prompt to further explore historical events.

© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.