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Alien and Sedition Acts

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Mr. Fulford's 7th grade Social Studies Class
Michelle Wang Block #4

Hi Mr. Fulford and my fellow classmates. So how is it going? Great, I'm fine, too. Ya, wanna learn about the Alien and Sedition Acts?

Well, for starters, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed in 1798. The people who passed the Alien and Sedition were Acts were Federalists. Federalists were people who supported the Constitution, in other words, wanted nothing to do with anything the Constitution does not say, wanted a strong national government, and wanted a governmnet ran by only wealthy, educated white men.

At the time the people who ran the government, such as the President, the President's Cabinet, and other members of the three Branches, were mostly Federalists. The President, John Adams, with the help of other Federalists, passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which I will now call AS Acts for the sake of simplicity, with the main goal of stopping the growth of the Democratic-Republicans. (The Democratic-Repuclicans were people from the opposite political party of the Federalists; they preffered in self-government and the power of government to be shared with all people) Because the Democratic-Republicans wanted all people, rich and poor, non-educated and educated, to participate in goverment, most immigrants from all over the world would want to join the Democratic-Republicans. This is because most of the people who immigrated from the different countries immigrated here because they wanted freedom of religion, speech ... and, most importantly of all, freedom of participating in government.

Fearful of the Democratic-Republicans overthrowing them, the 3 Alien Acts, and 1 Sedition Act was passed. The first act, the Naturalization Act, was an Alien Act that increased the time it took for a foreigner to spend in the United States to become a citizen. (It originally took 5 years, but the Naturalization Act increased it to 14 years.)

The second act was also an Alien Act, called just plain Alien Act. This act gave the President the authority to either imprison or deport any foreigner from both ally and enemy countries. (Deport, in this case, means to send out of the country) The people who passed this law, the Federalists, hoped that the French refugees opposing Federalist calls for war would be silenced.

The third and final Alien Act was known as the Alien Enemies Act, which gave the United States government the authority to arrest and/or deport any citizens from countries the United States was warring against.

The Sedition Act is something that I, along with Thomas Jefferson and many other Democratic-Republicans, think was a totally unfair and unjust law. With the knowledge that Sedition means to say something rude or putting down the government, you can probably come to the conclusion that the Sedition Act allowed the United States government to arrest anyone who said anything mean about the government. And you are entirely correct. The Sedition Act made it illegal to write or say something that would be putting down the government. The Federalists hoped that this act would stop the critism coming their way. Within a matter of months, over 27 Democratic-Republican newspaper editors, workers, and contributors were arrested, and of these, 10 were convicted for printing critism.

To many Democratic-Republicans, including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, the Sedition Act looked seemed like a violation of the first amendment of the Bill of Rights: freedom of speech and freedom of the press. What formed from this challenge is what is known now as the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions.

Madison and Jefferson wrote two statements stating that would challenge the AS Acts. They were approved by both the representatives of Kentucky and Virginia, therefore called the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions.

Basically, the resolution forbade the AS Acts, stating that it was a direct vioulation of the Constitution. It also stated that any state was allowed to nullify (to cancel) any of the laws, as long as the cancelation was within the state. The federal government dismissed the resolutions, however, saying that both the federal government and the Supreme Court had voted for it, and also that only the Supreme Court could declare a law unconstitutional. And since the Supreme Court hasn't declared it unconstitutional, they reasoned, we therefore have the authority to dismiss this case.

It wasn't until the end of 1801 that the Alien and Sedition Acts were expired. By then a new president had been elected, President Thomas Jefferson, and he did not renew them.

The Alien and Sediton Acts

  • The Naturalization Act: Increased the time required to become a United States citizen
  • The Alien Act: Gave the president the power to imprison or deport any foreigner
  • The Alien Enemies Act: Allowed the United States government to arrest and deport all aliens who were citizens of countries at war with the United States
  • The Sedition Act: Made it illegal to speak or write critically about the federal government and its laws
  • THANK YOU FOR VISITING MY AS ACTS WEBSITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!