Claim: Michelle Obama stated that the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not "born in America."
Example: [Collected via e-mail, July 2014]
She said during her speech, referring to the Declaration of Independence, "It's amazing that just a few feet from here where I'm standing are the signatures of the
Did she actually mean that those who signed the Declaration of Independence and participated in the drafting of the Constitution were not born in America? Benjamin Franklin was born in Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and James Madison were born in Virginia. John Adams was born in Massachusetts. Surely she knows this.
But maybe not.
After all, she is only a Harvard graduate.
Origins: On 18 June 2014, First Lady Michelle Obama attended a ceremony at the National Archives rotunda in Washington, D.C., in which fifty foreign-born immigrants were sworn in as American citizens, and she used the occasion to speak on the subject of immigration reform:
"In many ways, it is because of — not in spite of — our immigrant population that we grow stronger every single day," the first lady told the newest Americans-by-choice.
Fifty people from 44 nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, took the oath in the historic setting of the National Archives rotunda, where originals of the U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are displayed.
The new citizens waved small U.S. flags afterward, and each got a hug from the first lady.
Just like you're about to pledge allegiance to our flag, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to this extraordinary idea that we now know as America — the notion that we are all created equal, endowed with fundamental rights and freedoms that no one can ever take away from us.
People come from across the globe to see these documents, to read the names and signatures of the very first "Americans-by-choice," because they know that this room holds the first chapter of our shared history. And today, it holds the next chapter of our story, as well.
What Michelle Obama was communicating on that occasion was a distinction between geography and nationality: she did not say that the Founding Fathers were born somewhere other than America, but rather that they did not start out their lives in a fully formed and established nation known as "America" complete with its own history, customs, culture, and values, as modern American children are. Rather, our forefathers were born into a very different world as British subjects in a colonial empire, and they chose to seek new opportunities and lives for themselves by transforming their world into something distinctive (through the establishment of a new nation known as the United States of America), just as modern immigrants born outside America choose to transform their worlds by opting to leave their homelands for America and seek new lives through becoming
Last updated: 6 March 2015