OK

I have not yet read Ms Cheney's new book about James Madison, but I intend to.

However a cursory examination (if I'm wrong please correct me) would seem to indicate that she failed to mention that James Madison was an American-French dual citizen.

It is not that widely known but James Madison (as well as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Payne) were offered French citizenship by the Assembly of the French Revolution in 1792 as an acknowledgement of their contributions for the cause of liberty.

AFAIK, we have no documents recording either Washington or Hamilton's answers, but we do have a rather enthusiastic letter from Madison gladly accepting such an offer and (I'm paraphrasing) saying that every enlightened person had two homelands: his own, and France.

More under the orange squiggle.

These were not "honorary citizenship", because there is no such thing in France (unlike the US which has indeed conferred Honorary Citizenship upon many worthy people including, I believe, Mother Teresa.) Therefore, there would have been no need or any requirement for any of these people to travel to France and swear an oath.

If you read French, the full text of the decree of the Legislative Assembly conferring citizenship upon these great Americans on 26 August 1792 is here on French wiki,

The reply letters from Jefferson and Madison on the topic can be accessed through here.

The letter by Madison to Jean Marie Roland de La Platière, French Minister of the Interior, dated April 1793, gratefully accepting the French citizenship conferred on him and avowing his wishes for the prosperity and glory of the French nation, and the victory of liberty over the minds of its opponents, constitutes express consent to the grant of citizenship.

By contrast, Washington and Hamilton never replied, and one might rightly argue that by doing so, they might have turned town an offer of citizenship. But one can't do that with Jefferson and Madison.

What's interesting about Jefferson's and Madison's cases is that, this took place before they ran for the office of President. Their opponents raised the issue of dual citizenship during the campaign (at least, Madison's did); however, it proved to have no traction (as we might say today) and didn't prevent them from being elected.

The reason why I think this is significant is that the Louisiana Purchase was effected in 1803 while Jefferson was President and Madison was Secretary of State, before his being elected in 1809; by today's standards, there certainly would have been a HUGE conflict of interest in having two dual US/French citizens being in charge of such a transaction.

Clearly, neither Jefferson not Madison were BORN dual citizens, but they were offered and accepted such dual citizenship. If the intention of the Founders was to protect the Presidency from "foreign influence", as many idiots on the Right say looking at Obama (wink, wink), certainly they would have turned the offer down, or risk being barred from office, especially during the tricky negotiations that led to the Louisiana Purchase.

During one of the most momentous event in the entire US history,the acquisition of over 800,000 square miles for 68 million francs, both the President and Secretary of the Interior were dual citizens of the two nations buying and selling this huge tract of land.

One cannot conceive of a greater conflict of interest. At the time, many thought that the Purchase was unconstitutional, and it was Jefferson who argued otherwise -- and won. Was his judgment affected by the fact that his second homeland, France, desperately needed the money at the time? Should he have tried to strike a harsher bargain?

We will never know, of course, but if Jefferson and Madison, two of the Founding Fathers, were known to be dual citizens when they were elected to public office, at the very moment when they brokered such a major deal between their two homelands, surely the notion of the Founders being worried about "foreign influence" does not seem too convincing?

I'm sure Jefferson and Madison thought of themselves as 100% Americans and whatever they did, they did it for the good of the US of A, not France. But legally, one cannot argue that they were not French and indeed they are still honored in France (as well as FDR) to this day -- there is Square Thomas Jefferson in Paris, for instance.

I would have thought this would have been a challenging issue worth revisiting by Ms Cheney but, unless I missed it, it doesn't appear to be. Yet, in these xenophobic times we live in, I think it is worth remembering that two of our greatest Presidents welcomed their French citizenship.

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