Naturalization Act of 1870
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleAn Act to amend the Naturalization Laws and to punish Crimes against the same, and for other Purposes.
Enacted bythe 41st United States Congress
EffectiveJuly 14, 1870
Public lawPub. L.Tooltip Public Law (United States) 41–254
Statutes at Large16 Stat. 254-256
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 2201 by Noah Davis (RNY) on June 13, 1870
  • Passed the Senate on July 4, 1870 (33 - 8[1])
  • Passed the House on July 11, 1870 (132 - 53[2])
  • Signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on July 14, 1870

The Naturalization Act of 1870 (16 Stat. 254) was a United States federal law that created a system of controls for the naturalization process and penalties for fraudulent practices. It is also noted for extending the naturalization process to "aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent" while also maintaining exclusion of the process to naturalized Chinese Americans and other groups.[3]

Wong Kim Ark case

By virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment and despite the 1870 Act, the Supreme Court in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) recognized U.S. birthright citizenship of an American-born child of Chinese parents who had a permanent domicile and residence in the United States, and who were there carrying on business, and were not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China.[4] U.S. citizenship of persons born in the United States since Wong Kim Ark have been recognized, although the Supreme Court has never directly made a ruling in relation to children born to parents who are not legal residents in the United States.

Legislative history

The Naturalization bill was introduced by Republican Representative Noah Davis from New York in the House of Representatives as bill H.R. 2201 and Republican Senator Roscoe Conkling from New York co-sponsored the bill in the Senate.

The 1870 Act was passed by the 41st United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on July 14, 1870. Although the act was enacted in the United States Congress during the Reconstruction era, it is often not noted among the group of major legislative bills passed and enacted during that time period.[5]


  1. ^ "Congressional Globe, 41 Congress 2 session, 5441". The Library of Congress. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  2. ^ "Congressional Globe, 41 Congress 2 session, 5177". The Library of Congress. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  3. ^ Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress: A Legislative History. ISBN 9781587332524.
  4. ^ United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898).
  5. ^ Wang & (1997), pp. 69.