A Naturalized Citizen? But she was Born Here!

The mother-in-law I never knew was not always a United States Citizen. That is not to say that she was not born in Iowa, or that she renounced her citizenship, rather that she did what most other young ladies do when they are in their early 20’s ~ she got married!


Pieter and Jessie Stienstra

Jessie Kroese was born in Hornick, Iowa in March of 1900. Across the ocean in the Netherlands province of Friesland there was a young man who would soon immigrate to America and offer his hand in marriage to her. In 1922, Pieter Stienstra and Jessie Kroese married and immediately thereafter she was considered a citizen of the Netherlands by the country she was born and raised in.

How did this happen? By the wording of of Section 3 of the Expatriation Act of 1907 which states “any American woman who married a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband. At the termination of the marital relation she may resume her American citizenship, . . . if residing in the United States at the termination of the marital relation, by continuing to reside therein.”

The Cable Act of 1922 partially repealed the Expatriation Act. Proposed by John L. Cable, the Ohio Representative, the part of the law that relates to Jessie was  the part that stipulated a woman could keep her US citizenship after marrying a non-Asian alien, while living on United States soil. Had she moved back to the Netherlands with her new groom, she would no longer be eligible to retain her U.S. citizenship. This legislation was introduced  6 months after Jessie married Pieter Stienstra, and so Jessie lost her citizenship and did not regain it until September of 1936.

*Article from “The New York Tribune”, 24 Sept 1922

Why it took her so long to reapply for her citizenship is not known. What is known, is it was important to her to become (once again) a citizen of the country she was born in and had lived in for her entire life ~ single and married!



There is a lot more involved in the Expatriation Act, and if you are interested, I’d suggest you Google it. I found it very interesting, from the Act itself to the Cable Act, to an amendment to the Cable Act in 1931 to the final appeal of the Act in 1936.


*New-York tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), 24 Sept. 1922. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83030214/1922-09-24/ed-1/seq-21/&gt;



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