President Ulysses S. Grant and the 41st United States Congress signed into law the Naturalization Act of 1870 on July 14, 1870. Of the seven sections of the act, much of it seemed to have very little to do with naturalization.
Section one determines a jail sentence of one to five years and a fine of one thousand dollars for people who commit perjury in anything related to the naturalization process.
Section two makes it a felony to apply for citizenship while impersonating another. Equally guilty is anyone who is a witness for this person. Also guilty is anyone associated with any type of forged or false document used in the naturalization or voter registration process. If convicted they are to be imprisoned at hard labor for one to five years and fined three hundred to one thousand dollars.
Section three establishes it to be a crime to fraudulently obtain citizenship papers and/or fraudulently represent yourself to be a United States citizen. It is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to one thousand dollars and imprisonment not to exceed two years.
Section four declares the authority of the 1870 Naturalization Act and the United States right to enforce it through the courts.
Section five has nothing to do with naturalization but, rather, establishes city population standards in order to appoint representatives from each political party to oversee voting procedures. Interfering with voting procedures is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
Section 6 authorizes United States marshals to deputize as they see fit in order to keep the peace during Congressional elections.
Section 7 finally gets to the heart of the matter by declaring all aliens of African birth the right to apply for citizenship through the naturalization process as well as any African descendant. At this time in U.S. history, the only people eligible for citizenship through the naturalization process were free, white men and both genders of African peoples. As a woman, the gringa would then not like to hear the descendants of Africans bemoan their status in the eyes of the United States government because, as an ethnic group, they received official equality recognition long before any gringas did.
The following transcript of the Naturalization Act of 1870 can be found in Library of Congress records online at www.loc.gov. Although it makes for boring reading, following is a copy of that transcript for your convenience.
“July 14, 1870, CHAP. CCLIV. – An Act to amend the Naturalization Laws and to punish Crimes against the same, and for other Purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of American in Congress assembled, That in all cases where any oath, affirmation, or affidavit shall be made or taken under or by virtue of any act or law relating to the naturalization of aliens, or in any proceedings under such acts or laws, and any person or persons taking or making such oath, affirmation, or affidavit, shall knowingly swear or affirm falsely, the same shall be deemed and taken to be perjury, and the person or persons guilty thereof shall upon conviction thereof be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and not less than one year, and to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That if any person applying to be admitted a citizen, or appearing as a witness for any such person, shall knowingly personate any other person than himself, or falsely appear in the name of a deceased person, or in an assumed or fictitious name, or if any person shall falsely make, forge, or counterfeit any oath, affirmation, notice, affidavit, certificate, order, record, signature, or other instrument, paper, or proceeding required or authorized by any law or act relating to or providing for the naturalization of aliens; or shall utter, sell, dispose of, or use as true or genuine, or for any unlawful purpose, any false, forged, ante-dated, or counterfeit oath, affirmation, notice, certificate, order, record, signature, instrument, paper, or proceeding as aforesaid; or sell or dispose of to any person other than the person for whom it was originally issued, any certificate of citizenship, or certificate showing any person to be admitted a citizen; or if any person shall in any manner use for the purpose of registering as a voter, or as evidence of a right to vote, or otherwise, unlawfully, any order, certificate of citizenship, or certificate, judgment, or exemplification, showing such person to be admitted to be a citizen, whether heretofore or hereafter issued or made, knowing that such order of certificate, judgment, or exemplification has been unlawfully issued or made; or if any person shall unlawfully use, or attempt to use, any such order or certificate, issued to or in the name of any other person, or in a fictitious name, or the name of a deceased person; or use, or attempt to use, or aid, or assist, or participate in the use of any certificate of citizenship, knowing the same to be forged, or counterfeit, or ante-dated, or knowing the same to have been procured by fraud, or otherwise unlawfully obtained; or if any person, and without lawful excuse, shall knowingly have or be possessed of any false, forged, ante-dated, or counterfeit certificate of citizenship, purporting to have been issued under the provisions of any law of the United States relating to naturalization, knowing such certificate to be false, forged, ante-dated, or counterfeit, with intent unlawfully to use the same; or if any person shall obtain, accept, or receive any certificate of citizenship known to such person to have been procured by fraud or by the use of any false name, or by means of any false statement made with intent to procure, or to aid in procuring, the issue of such certificate, or known to such person to be fraudulently altered or ante-dated; or if any person who has been or may be admitted to be a citizen shall, on oath or affirmation, or by affidavit, knowingly deny that he has been so admitted, with intent to evade or avoid any duty or liability imposed or required by law, every person so offending shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to be imprisoned and kept at hard labor for a period not less than one year nor more than five years, or be fined in a sum not less than three hundred dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or both such punishments may be imposed, in the discretion of the court. And every person who shall knowingly and intentionally aid or abet any person in the commission of any such felony, or attempt to do any act hereby made felony, or counsel, advise, or procure, or attempt to procure, the commission thereof, shall be liable to indictment and punishment in the same manner and to the same extent as the principal party guilty of such felony, and such person may be tried and convicted thereof without the previous conviction of such principal.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That any person who shall knowingly use any certificate of naturalization heretofore granted by any court, or which shall hereafter be granted, which has been, or shall be, procured through fraud or by false evidence, or has been or shall be issued by the clerk, or any other officer of the court without any appearance and hearing of the applicant in court and without lawful authority; and any person who shall falsely represent himself to be a citizen of the United States, without having been duly admitted to citizenship, for any fraudulent purpose whatever, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, in due course of law, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars, or be imprisoned not exceeding two years, either or both, in the discretion of the court taking cognizance of the same.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the provisions of this act shall apply to all proceedings had or taken, or attempted to be had or taken, before any court in which any proceeding for naturalization shall be commenced, had, or taken, or attempted to be commenced; and the courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of all offenses under the provisions of this act, in or before whatsoever court or tribunal the same shall have been committed.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That in any city having upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants, it shall be the duty of the judge of the circuit court of the United States for the circuit wherein said city shall be, upon the application of two citizens, to appoint in writing for each election district or voting precinct in said city, and to change or renew said appointment as occasion may require, from time to time, two citizens resident of the district or precinct, one from each political party, who, when so designated, shall be, and are hereby, authorized to attend at all times and places fixed for the registration of voters, who, being registered, would be entitled to vote for representatives in Congress, and at all times and places for holding elections of representatives in Congress, and for counting the votes cast at said elections, and to challenge any name proposed to be registered, and any vote offered, and to be present and witness throughout the counting of all votes, and to remain where the ballot-boxes are kept at all times after the polls are open until the votes are finally counted; and said persons and either of them shall have the right to affix their signature or his signature to said register for purposes of identification, and to attach thereto, or to the certificate of the number of votes cast, and [any] statement touching the truth or fairness thereof which they or he may ask to attach; and anyone who shall prevent any person so designated from doing any of the acts authorized as aforesaid, or who shall hinder or molest any such person in doing any of the said acts, or shall aid or abet in preventing hindering, or molesting any such person in respect of any such acts, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be punished by imprisonment not less than one year.
SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That in any city having upwards of twenty thousand inhabitants, it shall be lawful for the marshal of the United States for the district wherein said city shall be, to appoint as many special deputies as may be necessary to preserve order at any election at which representatives in Congress are to be chosen; and said deputies are hereby authorized to preserve order at such elections, and to arrest for any offence or breach of the peace committed in their view.
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That the naturalization laws are hereby extended to aliens of African nativity and to persons of African descent.
Approved, July 14, 1870