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At Home in Two CountriesThe Past and Future of Dual Citizenship$
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Peter J. Spiro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780814785829

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814785829.001.0001

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The Feudal Roots and Modern Emergence of Dual Nationality

The Feudal Roots and Modern Emergence of Dual Nationality

(p.11) 1 The Feudal Roots and Modern Emergence of Dual Nationality
At Home in Two Countries

Peter J. Spiro

NYU Press

This chapter describes how the feudal approach to nationality set the stage for major diplomatic disputes between the United States and European governments. In the medieval world most people were born and died in the same place; the incidence of dual nationality was near zero, to the point that it was not understood even as a concept. Consistent with the sedentary context – with the prevailing view of the natural order of things, a hierarchy that put all in their place – individuals were considered bound to the sovereign in whose lands they were born on a permanent basis. This regime was a poor match for American independence and the emerging era of trans-Atlantic migration. At the same time that large numbers resettled in the United States, European sovereigns refused to recognize any transfer of allegiance. Those who were naturalized as U.S. citizens were saddled with birth allegiance, with dual nationality as the result. States clashed in their claims over people. These claims sparked public outcry when European states treated naturalized Americans on return visits home for various purposes as if they had never left, including for purposes of military service. In the face of sustained U.S. pressure, important European states began to recognize transfers of nationality through expatriation, extinguishing original nationality upon naturalization in the U.S.

Keywords:   dual nationality, trans-Atlantic migration, expatriation, diplomatic disputes, United States

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