When trying to define who a citizen is, there have been many different definitions brought to us throughout the years. For this blog I will use the United States as an example. The Library of Congress website defines a citizen in the Fourteenth Amendment as “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”
I think of someone who was either born and raised in the United States or someone who went through the process to become an official United States citizen. A citizen should have a decent job and be able to pay for their house, utilities, car, food and other necessities, to because they are way they are able to pay taxes . They also obey the laws established by the government and function as a contributing member to society.
The question “who a citizen should be” is somewhat similar to the same question because most of the ideas listed above qualify for both questions. A citizen should be someone who is able to pay their duties to society, such as taxes, medicare, and social security. Someone who was born in the U.S., has a decent job that gives an individual a decent income that allows them to pay their bills should definitely be considered a citizen.
An individual who is able to call themselves a citizen is an honor. It gives them a sense of freedom and credibility to say they are a citizen of the United States. They are also able to have the mindset that everything they are paying into the economy is benefiting many other Americans.
During the late 1700’s, Betty Hemmings and her family would not have been considered a citizen because they were only identified as slaves. They were making contributions to society by working in the fields, taking care of the house and plantations, making the food, cleaning the house, and taking care of their master’s children. They did not pay any taxes and did not pay for food because their masters paid for everything.
The Fourteenth Amendment says that any person who is born in the United states and follows the jurisdiction and laws set by the government, will be considered a citizen of the United States. It does not say an individual who is born in the united States, follows the jurisdiction and laws set by the government, and must be of the white race.
This has always been a huge debate in American history because slaves who were born and raised in the United States believed that they should have been noted as a citizen of the United States. Slaves of course had fewer opportunities than white men and women when it came to jobs because they were slaves from the moment they were born to the moment they die.
After studying how crucial society was in the 1700 and 1800’s in America, its understandable to see why people believed African Americans were not citizens of the United States. However, all these ideas we learn about were made up by white men because it does not match up to the Fourteenth Amendment.
Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov. 2016. https://www.loc.gov/law/help/citizenship/fourteenth_amendment_citizenship.php. Accessed April 11, 2016).