The 1864 Election Lincoln and the Immigrant Voter

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Pat Young

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So I wanted to get your take on immigrant participation in the Election of 1864 in the Union. How did immigrants perceive the candidates? How did they participate in the elections? How did they vote?
 

ole

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I have no answer; only questions. When was an immigrant allowed the vote? That is, one, two or three years?

What was the naturalization process? (I'm assuming one had to be a citizen to vote.)

GGfather came over in 1852. Bought a farm in 1853. What did he have to do to earn the right to vote in any election as a citizen?

I gather he learned enough English to sell and buy. Of course, his children were almost bilingual.
 
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Pat Young

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I have no answer; only questions. When was an immigrant allowed the vote? That is, one, two or three years?

What was the naturalization process? (I'm assuming one had to be a citizen to vote.)

GGfather came over in 1852. Bought a farm in 1853. What did he have to do to earn the right to vote in any election as a citizen?

I gather he learned enough English to sell and buy. Of course, his children were almost bilingual.
Generally, in most jurisdictions, an immigrant had to naturalize (become a citizen) in order to vote. Typically, he needed to fill out an intending citizenship declaration after arrival (at least three years before becoming a citizen) and wait five years after arriving in the U.S. before he could become a citizen, which is the same requirement as today. Today one must then apply for citizenship to the Department of Homeland Security, pass background checks, a civics test, and English-language tests, but these did not exist in 1864. Instead, an immigrant only needed to appear before a local judge and convince the judge that he was a person of good moral character.

To naturalize, the immigrant needed to be a "free white person." The act excluded Native Americans, slaves, free blacks, and Asians. In 1870, U.S. Grant signed a new Naturalization Act which extended the privilege to naturalize to immigrants of "African nativity and to persons of African descent" but which continued to exclude immigrants from Asia. Chinese would not be able to naturalize until 1942 and other Asians, Indians for example, were excluded from naturalizing until the 1950s.

The free white person would then take the oath of citizenship. Here is what the Act said on the Oath-the immigrant needed to swear:

"that he will support the constitution of the United States; and that he does absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty whatever, and particularly by name, the prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, whereof he was before a citizen or subject; which proceedings shall be recorded by the clerk of the court.

Thirdly. The court admitting such alien shall be satisfied that he has resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States five years; and it shall further appear to their satisfaction, that during that time, he has behaved as a man of a good moral character, attached to the principles of the constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same."

Here is a link to the 1790 and 1795 Citizenship Acts.
http://www.indiana.edu/~kdhist/H105-documents-web/week08/naturalization1790.html
 
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