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Encyclopedia > Alien and Sedition Acts
Text of the act.

The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the United States Congress—which was waging an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War—and signed into law by President John Adams. Proponents claimed the acts were designed to protect the United States from alien citizens of enemy powers and to stop seditious attacks from weakening the government. The Democratic-Republicans, like later historians, attacked them as being both unconstitutional and designed to stifle criticism of the administration, and as infringing on the right of the states to act in these areas. They became a major political issue in the elections of 1798 and 1800. One act — the Alien Enemies Act — is still in force in 2008, and has frequently been enforced in wartime. The others expired or were repealed by 1802. Thomas Jefferson held them all to be unconstitutional and void, then pardoned and ordered the release of all who had been convicted of violating them. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 474 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (500 × 632 pixel, file size: 62 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Originally from http://www. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 474 × 599 pixel Image in higher resolution (500 × 632 pixel, file size: 62 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) Originally from http://www. ... The Federalist Party (or Federal Party) was an American political party in the period 1792 to 1816, with remnants lasting into the 1830s. ... Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives President of the Senate President pro tempore Dick Cheney, (R) since January 20, 2001 Robert C. Byrd, (D) since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D) since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political... The Quasi-War was an undeclared war fought entirely at sea between the United States and France from 1798 to 1801. ... For other persons named John Adams, see John Adams (disambiguation). ... In law during wartime, an enemy alien is a citizen of a country which is in a state of war with the land in which he or she is located. ... The Democratic-Republican Party was founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1792. ... Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ... For the Breton religious festivals, see Pardon (ceremony). ...

Contents

Acts

There were actually four separate laws making up what is commonly referred to as the "Alien and Sedition Acts":

  1. The Naturalization Act (official title: An Act to Establish a Uniform Rule of Naturalization) extended the duration of residence required for aliens to become citizens to fourteen years. Enacted June 18, 1798, with no expiration date, it was repealed in 1802.
  2. The Alien Friends Act (official title: An Act Concerning Aliens) authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." These acts were created in fear of French sympathizers. At the time, war was considered likely between the US and France. Enacted June 25, 1798, with a two year expiration date.
  3. The Alien Enemies Act (official title: An Act Respecting Alien Enemies) authorized the president to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States. Enacted July 6, 1798, with no expiration date, it remains in effect today as 50 U.S.C. § 21-24.
  4. The Sedition Act (official title: An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States) made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or its officials. Enacted July 14, 1798, with an expiration date of March 3, 1801.

The Naturalization Act passed by Congress on June 18, 1798, increased the amount of time necessary for immigrants to become naturalized citizens in the United States from five to fourteen years. ... is the 169th day of the year (170th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... Title 50 of the United States Code outlines the role of War and National Defense in the United States Code. ... is the 195th day of the year (196th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... is the 62nd day of the year (63rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... The Union Jack, flag of the newly formed United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. ...

Constitutionality

While Jefferson did denounce the Sedition Act as invalid and a violation of the First Amendment of the United States Bill of Rights, which protected the right of free speech, his main argument on the unconstitutionality of the act was that it violated the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." In 1798 when the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed, First Amendment rights did not restrict the states, as they now do. Jefferson more strongly argued the Federal Government had overstepped its bounds in the Alien and Sedition Acts by attempting to exercise undelegated powers. Apart from Virginia and Kentucky the other state legislatures, all of them Federalist, rejected Jefferson's position by resolutions that either supported the acts, or denied that Virginia and Kentucky could denounce it.[1] “First Amendment” redirects here. ... The United States Bill of Rights consists of the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. ... Freedom of speech is the right to freely say what one pleases, as well as the related right to hear what others have stated. ... For Ireland, see Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland. ...


The judicial redress for unconstitutional legislation under the doctrine of judicial review was not established until Marbury v. Madison in 1803; the Supreme Court in 1798, particularly Mr. Justice Samuel Chase, was openly hostile to the Federalists' opponents. The Alien and Sedition Acts were not appealed to the Supreme Court for review, although individual Supreme Court Justices, sitting in circuit, heard many of the cases prosecuting opponents of the Federalists. Judicial review is the power of a court to review the actions of public sector bodies in terms of their legality or constitutionality. ... Holding Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is unconstitutional to the extent it purports to enlarge the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court beyond that permitted by the Constitution. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Circuit courts previously were United States federal courts established in each federal judicial district. ...


In order to address the constitutionality of the measures, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison sought to unseat the Federalists, appealing to the people to remedy the constitutional violation, and drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which called on the states to nullify the federal legislation. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions reflect the Compact Theory, which states that the United States are made up of a voluntary union of States that agree to cede some of their authority in order to join the union, but that the states do not, ultimately, surrender their sovereign rights. Therefore, under the Compact Theory, states can determine if the federal government has violated its agreements, including the Constitution, and nullify such violations or even withdraw from the Union. Variations of this theory were also argued at the Hartford Convention at the time of the War of 1812, and by the Southern states just before the American Civil War. Thomas Jefferson (13 April 1743 N.S.–4 July 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–09), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. ... For other persons named James Madison, see James Madison (disambiguation). ... Thomas Jefferson. ... The process of nullification may refer to: The Hartford Convention, in which New England Federalists considered secession from the United States of America. ... The compact theory is a theory relating to the development of the Constitution of the United States of America. ... The Secret Journal of the Hartford Convention, published 1823. ... This article is about the U.S.–U.K. war. ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total...


The Sedition Act was set to expire in 1801, coinciding with the end of the Adams administration. While this prevented its constitutionality from being directly decided by the Supreme Court, subsequent mentions of the Sedition Act in Supreme Court opinions have assumed that it would be ruled unconstitutional if ever tested in court. For example, in the seminal free speech case of New York Times v. Sullivan, the Court declared, "Although the Sedition Act was never tested in this Court, the attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history." 376 U.S. 254, 276 (1964). Holding The First Amendment, as applied through the Fourteenth, protected a newspaper from being sued for libel in state court for making false defamatory statements about the official conduct of a public official, because the statements were not made with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth. ...


Elections of 1800

Although the Federalists hoped the Act would muffle the opposition, many Democratic-Republicans still "wrote, printed, uttered and published" their criticisms of the Federalists. Indeed, they strongly criticized the act itself, and used it as one of the largest election issues. It also had enormous implications on the Federalist party after that point, and ended up being a major contributing factor of its demise. The act expired when the term of President Adams ended in 1801. In the United States presidential election of 1800, sometimes referred to as the “Revolution of 1800”, Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams. ...


Ultimately the Acts backfired against the Federalists; while they prepared lists of aliens for deportation, and many aliens fled the country during the debate over the Alien and Sedition Acts, Adams never signed a deportation order. Twenty-five people, primarily prominent newspaper editors but also Congressman Matthew Lyon, were arrested. Of them, eleven were tried (one died while awaiting trial), and ten were convicted of sedition, often in trials before openly partisan Federalist judges. Federalists at all levels, however, were turned out of power, and, over the following years, Congress repeatedly apologized for, or voted recompense to victims of, the enforcement of the Alien and Sedition Acts. Thomas Jefferson, who won the 1800 election, pardoned all of those that were convicted for crimes under the Alien Enemies Act and the Sedition Act. Matthew Lyon (July 14, 1749 - August 1, 1822), (father of Chittenden Lyon and great-grandfather of William Peters Hepburn), was a printer, farmer, soldier, and politician, serving as a United States Representative from Vermont and from Kentucky. ...


Full cites

  • An Act to Establish an Uniform Rule of Naturalization (Naturalization Act of 1798), June 18, 1798 ch. 54, 1 Stat. 566
  • An Act Concerning Aliens, June 25, 1798 ch. 58, 1 Stat. 570
  • An Act Respecting Alien Enemies, July 6, 1798 ch. 66, 1 Stat. 577
  • An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States (Sedition Act), July 14, 1798 ch. 74, 1 Stat. 5

The Naturalization Act passed by Congress on June 18, 1798, increased the amount of time necessary for immigrants to become naturalized citizens in the United States from five to fourteen years. ... is the 169th day of the year (170th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... is the 176th day of the year (177th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ... is the 195th day of the year (196th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1798 (MDCCXCVIII) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Friday of the 11-day slower Julian calendar). ...

See also

The Alien Act of 1705 was a law passed by the English parliament as a response to the Scottish parliaments Act of Security of 1704, which in turn was a response to the English Act of Settlement 1701. ... The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act (18 USC 2385) of 1940 made it a criminal offense for anyone to knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence... The Sedition Act of 1918 was an amendment to the Espionage Act of 1917 passed at the urging of President Woodrow Wilson, who was concerned that dissent, in time of war, was a significant threat to morale. ... The Logan Act is a United States federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments. ...

Bibliography

  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism (1995), the standard scholarly history of the 1790s.
  • Miller, John Chester. Crisis in Freedom: The Alien and Sedition Acts (1951)
  • Rehnquist, William H. Grand Inquests: The historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson (1994); Chase was impeached and acquitted for his conduct of a trial under the Sedition act.
  • Rosenfeld, Richard N. American Aurora: A Democratic-Republican Returns: The Suppressed History of Our Nation's Beginnings and the Heroic Newspaper That Tried to Report It (1997), clippings from a Republican newspaper
  • Smith, James Morton. Freedom's Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties (1967).
  • Stone, Geoffrey R.Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from The Sedition Act of 1798 to The War on Terrorism (2004).
  • Alan Taylor, "The Alien and Sedition Acts" in Julian E. Zelizer, ed. The American Congress (2004) pp. 63–76
  • Wright, Barry. "Migration, Radicalism, and State Security: Legislative Initiatives in the Canada's and the United States c. 1794–1804" in Studies in American Political Development, Volume 16, Issue 1, April 2002, pp. 48–60

Primary sources

  • Randolph, J.W. The Virginia Report of 1799–1800, Touching the Alien and Sedition Laws; together with the Virginia Resolutions of December 21, 1798, the Debate and Proceedings thereon in the House of Delegates of Virginia, and several other documents illustrative of the report and resolutions,.

Notes

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Alien and Sedition Acts - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1290 words)
The Alien and Sedition Acts were acts of Congress passed during the administration of President John Adams; his signature made them into law on July 14, 1798.
For example, the Republicans and a number of moderate Federalists successfully added language to the Sedition Act that by its terms required "a false, scandalous and malicious writing", pointing to the trial of John Peter Zenger that established that colonial courts might treat truth as a defense to libel.
The Alien and Sedition Acts were not appealed to the Supreme Court for review, though individual Supreme Court Justices, sitting in circuit, heard many of the cases prosecuting opponents of the Federalists.
Alien and Sedition Acts of the United States 1798. (1263 words)
An Act supplementary to and to amend the act, entitled "An act to establish an uniform rule of naturalization;" and to repeal the act heretofore passed on that subject.
That if any person shall be prosecuted under this act, for the writing or publishing any libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in the publication charged as a libel.
Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are: that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from their power over citizens.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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