1790: The Naturalization Act of 1790

Moment in History:

The first law regarding Naturalization in the United States was passed in 1790 and implemented a two step process through which one could became a naturalized United States citizen.

The first step in the process was to “file a ‘declaration of intent’ … to become a citizen,” after residing in the country for two years, and the second step was to “petition for naturalization” which could be done three years later. After these two steps were completed, a certificate of citizenship was granted to the accepted petitioner. Exceptions followed that wives of naturalized men and children under the age of 21 whose fathers were already naturalized, automatically qualified for citizenship. Special treatment was given to veterans in that they were only required to reside in the country for one year before they could petition for naturalization.

More information at:

National Archive’s Naturalization Records