Could Ted Cruz, born December 22, 1970 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, be Constitutionally ineligible for the presidency? If he were alive today, one of America’s most distinguished presidential historians, J.J. Perling, would say yes. We know that because he made that very judgement about another very distinguished American who was in the pipeline for the White House. He made it in the book, The Presidents’ Sons: The Prestige of Name in a Democracy, published in 1947 by The Odyssey Press, New York. (p. 30)
Now, before we get started with this extraordinary tale – and it is an extraordinary tale – let me offer a few disclaimers. I served for several months last year as a Senior Adviser to Senator Rand Paul. I have great admiration for Senator Ted Cruz and I am writing this story only as a student of history. It has been my pleasure to personally interview six presidents and first ladies. I have been a personal adviser to two American presidents. It has been my pleasure to have been in the homes of several of them before, during and after their presidency. And my wife and I have hosted presidents in our own home on three occasions. I coauthored a book with a president and have written about all of the presidents and all of their parents and all of their children. I can tell you that the issue of who is and who is not a “natural born citizen” is not as easily resolved as it may seem.
Yes, we know that Senator John McCain was born in the Panama Canal zone. His father was serving in the U.S. military. And yet he ran for president. And we know that Ted Cruz,like McCain, was born to a mother who was an American citizen and that McCain’s father was also an American citizen. The father of Ted Cruz was Cuban. But there the comparison ends. In 2008, with the McCain issue relevant, both Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton co-sponsored a Senate bill to assure McCain’s eligibility. The resolution declared, “John Sidney McCain, III, is a ‘natural born Citizen’ under Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States.”
Currently, Senator Cruz has no such congressional protection. And worse, he has built a rogue reputation by thumbing his nose at the Senate establishment of his own political party.
Now, here is the tale. It is just one example from history, the story of another, would be president, who was disqualified over the so called “birther issue.” You can read the story in its full detail in my book All the Presidents’ Children.
He was born on the 4th of July. He graduated from Harvard University and studied law under Daniel Webster. His name was George Washington Adams. Both his father and grandfather were presidents of the United States. Yet, according to the belief of legal experts at the time he could never be president himself. Why? He was born in Berlin, Germany while his father served in the American diplomatic corps as the U.S. Minister to Prussia.
Keep in mind, both his mother and father were U.S. citizens. His father would soon become Ambassador to the Court of St. James. He would become Secretary of State and not just any Secretary of State, but the one who would craft and conceive of what became known as the Monroe Doctrine, the most enduring foreign policy position in American history. He would later become the sixth president of the United States and his mother, Louisa Catherine Adams, would become one of our greatest First Ladies.
John Quincy Adams ruled his son’s life from a distance, sending letters ordering every moment of the day.
Louisa, the mother, took great solace in the fact that her firstborn, George, would not have the pressure of presidential expectations. He couldn’t. Their correspondence reveals their belief that the Constitution did not allow him to be president because of his birth in Germany. Nevertheless, the pressure to do something extraordinary with his life took its toll. At age 28 he jumped or fell from a steamboat en-route to a meeting with his father at the White House in Washington, D.C. Most historians believe it to have been a suicide. He was in the midst of a tawdry scandal that involved blackmail and possible shame for the family name. And his meetings with his father were always tense, calamitous affairs.
A few years later the second son would die young. Louisa would send her husband a sad rebuke, “another child offered on the altar of politics.”
Writes J.J. Perling, “George Washington Adams could never have been an occupant of the Presidential chair: the Constitution of the United States restricted that office to native born citizens, and George Washington Adams had been born in Germany.” (p.30) And that was published in 1947.
Start reading All the Presidents’ Children now on kindle.