Here is Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution of the United States:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Does this "fourteen years" phrase mean that someone who has recently spent some years stationed abroad as an ambassador of the United States cannot become president? Or are such persons considered to be maintaining a permanent residence in the U.S. while having a temporary secondary residence abroad? Was such a theory as the latter considered to justify Thomas Jefferson's eligibility?

  • 7
    I always understood that to mean that they should have lived in the US for a total of 14 years, but not necessarily the last 14 years, nor consecutively. If someone was born in the US, lived there until age 10, moved abroad, came back at age 20 and stayed for a further five years, then left again and came back when they were over 35, they'd be eligible by my reading. I couldn't immediately find case law on this, though. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 19:25
  • 4
    Eisenhower, as an example, certainly spent a considerable part of the years 1938-1952 outside the US, on military service rather than diplomatic. Commented Dec 4, 2020 at 19:27

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of any court ruling about the meaning of the "14 years" clause, but the plain reading of it would be that someone merely needs to accumulate 14 years of residency in the United States in order to be eligible to run for President. There's precedent for this, in the form of Dwight D. Eisenhower: he spent large parts of the period 1942-1946 in Europe before being elected in 1952.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .