Since the Confederacy existed for about four years, presumably some number of babies were born there during that time. Technically, those people were not born in the United States.

When those people reached the age of 35 (which would of course be after the war was over), were they eligible to run for president of the US?

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    Another interesting question is whether anyone born in the confederacy actually became president. The answer to that question is no; the only president born in the 1860s was Harding, who was born in Ohio.
    – phoog
    Jan 8, 2023 at 10:31
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    The 14th amendment would seem to make this conundrum impossible. Not to mention the obvious answer: the USA won the war, so the secession never really happened.
    – user608
    Jan 8, 2023 at 21:06
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    Needless to say, the question is now moot.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 8, 2023 at 22:15
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    @DavidSiegel If the Confederate states were actually considered to be outside the United States for purposes of U.S. law at the time as the question asserts, then it wouldn't. However, as the answer points out, this is not the case, so they would be "persons born in the United States" for purposes of Section 1. Though, suffice it to say that policy in this regard was a bit inconsistent at the time. For example, placing requirements on states to be 'readmitted' when the legal position was that they never left in the first place is... sketchy at best.
    – reirab
    Jan 8, 2023 at 23:17
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    @phoog if you were to count unsuccessful candidates, Hughes in 1916 was born 1862 - but in NY. Butler (defeated VP candidate 1912) was also 1862, in his case NJ. Jan 9, 2023 at 13:52

2 Answers 2


Technically, they were born in the United States, at least under US law, and the law of any existing nation. The United States never recognised the Confederacy, nor did any other country. There are occasional wingnut groups who declare themselves separate from the United States, but a simple declaration of secession does not create a country – you also have to win the war.

The Supreme Court affirmed that the secessionist states were always an integral part of the Union in Texas v. White, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 700 (1869). Since they only had jurisdiction if Texas was a state at the relevant time (some time on or before January 15, 1865), by accepting the case, they implicitly affirmed that Texas was part of the Union. Further, in the judgement itself, they explicitly stated that the acts of secession of not just Texas, but every rebel state were “absolutely null”.

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    All that plus the insistence by Southerners after the American civil war that it was a "war between the states" concerning state rights versus federal prerogatives would mean that even diehard Dixiecrats would have become plausible candidates had they any chance of winning.
    – Trunk
    Jan 8, 2023 at 19:47
  • Oooh, those Sovereign Citizens. Fun group. Though I don't think they tend to be southerners... Maybe some in MO, but I have the feeling most are out west.
    – user608
    Jan 8, 2023 at 21:08
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    @Trunk a more common term is "war of northern aggression".
    – jwenting
    Jan 10, 2023 at 13:47

The requirement is actually not to be born in the US, but to be a natural born citizen. You can be born outside the US and still be a natural born citizen and thus eligible to be elected President. The relevant question is whether their parents (engaged in the secession) were still citizens of the United States and were thus able to pass on the citizenship to their children. I believe the answer from Dale M answers that question; no secession ever took place.

They could in theory be blocked under the 14th amendment in case they have '...engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same [the United States], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.'Given the young age of anybody born during the war, I deem that to be unlikely. It would however apply to adults engaged in the secession activities.

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    Hence, as a recent example, John McCain was still eligible to run for President, despite being born in the Panama Canal Zone. Jan 9, 2023 at 15:11
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    Now I want to see the cartoon "Baby Insurrectionists".
    – Barmar
    Jan 9, 2023 at 15:40
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    RE engaging in insurrection or rebellion, President Johnson controversially pardoned many Confederate soldiers and officers, restoring their status. Only certain Confederate officials and military personnel were deemed to have been in rebellion, not ordinary citizens in those states.
    – wberry
    Jan 9, 2023 at 20:22
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    @wberry which is common, only hold the ring leaders responsible for the acts of the entire gang, and individual members (especially lower ranking ones) only for individual acts.
    – jwenting
    Jan 10, 2023 at 13:50

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