Forced expatriation


Forced expatriation


The current administration’s anti-immigrant crusade includes punishing mixed status families whenever possible - like excluding citizens from emergency aid if they’re married to non-citizens. As @ProfGidlow recently pointed out here, this isn’t new. [Nationality thread]

From 1907-1922, US citizen women who married foreign nationals forfeited their citizenship. Read👇illustrated piece from @USNatArchives for more on the Expatriation Act. But stripping women of their citizenship when they married foreigners predates 1907.

The Expatriation Act that year codified a practice that had been in place for decades. Nancy Cott and @VSapiro explain that expatriation was NOT a feature of the early generations of the Republic. It gradually took hold in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

The expatriation of wives began after Congress passed a law in 1855 to allow white immigrant women to naturalize when they married American men. Not Asians and African-Americans. It wasn’t clear what this meant for the citizenship of American women who married foreigners, but it gradually became interpreted to strip them of their citizenship, especially if they lived a long time abroad.

Meanwhile, after 1870 the UK (along with most of Europe) considered women to be the nationality of their husband. So while American law was unsettled about whether you lost your citizenship, British law was happy to swallow you up. So when a woman like Harriot Stanton Blatch married a Brit and settled in the UK in the 1880s, both countries agreed she was no longer American.

Harriot disagreed, of course, and c. 1894 refused to run for a seat on the London School Board, as it would have been an acknowledgment of a citizenship she did not choose. When she and her husband and their surviving daughter Nora (another, Helen, died of whooping cough at 4) returned to the US in 1902, Harriot was no longer a citizen.

Eleanor Flexner says that Harriot regained her American citizenship by taking the oath of allegiance in 1915, after her husband died. Then, “In order to be able to vote herself she established residence in Kansas, choosing the state where her mother had campaigned for suffrage almost fifty years earlier.” The 1867 campaign was unsuccessful; women in Kansas won the vote in 1912. #CenturyofStruggle #Suffrage100 


Daily Suffragist






Daily Suffragist, “Forced expatriation,” Daily Suffragist, accessed December 4, 2022,

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