Alien and Sedition Acts

Sedition ActSedition Act of 1798Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798Alien and Sedition LawsAlien Enemies ActAlien Enemy Act of 1798Alien ActAlien Enemies Act of 1798enemy aliensFull Text of Alien and Sedition Acts
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the Federalist-dominated 5th United States Congress and signed into law by President John Adams in 1798.wikipedia
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John Adams

AdamsJohnJ. Adams
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the Federalist-dominated 5th United States Congress and signed into law by President John Adams in 1798.
Adams signed the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts and built up the army and navy in the undeclared "Quasi-War" with France.

5th United States Congress

5thFifthFifth Congress
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the Federalist-dominated 5th United States Congress and signed into law by President John Adams in 1798.
June 18, 1798: Alien and Sedition Acts: ("An Act to establish a uniform rule of naturalization") (Naturalization Act of 1798), Sess. 2, ch. 54,

Thomas Jefferson

JeffersonPresident JeffersonJeffersonian
At the time, the majority of immigrants supported Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, the political opponents of the Federalists. The acts were denounced by Democratic-Republicans and ultimately helped them to victory in the 1800 election, when Thomas Jefferson defeated the incumbent, President Adams.
With Madison, he anonymously wrote the controversial Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798–1799, which sought to strengthen states' rights by nullifying the federal Alien and Sedition Acts.

Matthew Lyon

Matthew Lyon was a Democratic-Republican congressman from Vermont. He was the first individual to be placed on trial under the Alien and Sedition Acts. He was indicted in 1800 for an essay he had written in the Vermont Journal accusing the administration of "ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice." While awaiting trial, Lyon commenced publication of Lyon's Republican Magazine, subtitled "The Scourge of Aristocracy". At trial, he was fined $1,000 and sentenced to four months in jail. After his release, he returned to Congress.
He brawled with one Congressman, and was jailed on charges of violating the Sedition Act, winning re-election to Congress from inside his jail cell.

Dedham, Massachusetts

DedhamDedham Public LibraryDedham, MA
In November 1798, David Brown led a group in Dedham, Massachusetts, including Benjamin Fairbanks, in setting up a liberty pole with the words, "No Stamp Act, No Sedition Act, No Alien Bills, No Land Tax, downfall to the Tyrants of America; peace and retirement to the President; Long Live the Vice President." Brown was arrested in Andover, Massachusetts, but because he could not afford the $4,000 bail, he was taken to Salem for trial. Brown was tried in June 1799. Brown pleaded guilty, but Justice Samuel Chase asked him to name others who had assisted him. Brown refused, was fined $480, and sentenced to eighteen months in prison, the most severe sentence ever imposed under the Sedition Act.
It carried the words, "No Stamp Act, No Sedition Act, No Alien Bills, No Land Tax, downfall to the Tyrants of America; peace and retirement to the President; Long Live the Vice President," referring to then-President John Adams and Vice President Thomas Jefferson.

Anthony Haswell (printer)

Anthony Haswell
Anthony Haswell was an English immigrant and a printer of the Jeffersonian Vermont Gazette. Haswell had reprinted from the Aurora Bache's claim that the federal government employed Tories, also publishing an advertisement from Lyon's sons for a lottery to raise money for his fine that decried Lyon's oppression by jailers exercising "usurped powers". Haswell was found guilty of seditious libel by judge William Paterson, and sentenced to a two-month imprisonment and a $200 fine.
Anthony Haswell (6 April 1756 – 26 May 1816) was an English immigrant to New England, where he became a newspaper, almanac, and book publisher, the Postmaster General of Vermont and one of the Jeffersonian printers imprisoned under the Sedition Act of 1798.

1800 United States presidential election

18001800 presidential electionelection of 1800
The acts were denounced by Democratic-Republicans and ultimately helped them to victory in the 1800 election, when Thomas Jefferson defeated the incumbent, President Adams.
The Democratic-Republicans also denounced the Alien and Sedition Acts, which the Federalists had passed to make it harder for immigrants to become citizens and to restrict statements critical of the federal government.

Internment of Japanese Americans

internedinternment campsinternment
It was used by the government to identify and imprison dangerous enemy aliens from Germany, Japan, and Italy in World War II. (This was separate from the Japanese internment camps used to remove people of Japanese descent from the West Coast.) After the war they were deported to their home countries.
Upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor and pursuant to the Alien Enemies Act, Presidential Proclamations 2525, 2526 and 2527 were issued designating Japanese, German and Italian nationals as enemy aliens.

Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Kentucky ResolutionsVirginia and Kentucky ResolutionsKentucky Resolution
Opposition to them resulted in the highly controversial Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, authored by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (or Resolves) were political statements drafted in 1798 and 1799, in which the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures took the position that the federal Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional.

First Amendment to the United States Constitution

First AmendmentFirstU.S. Const. amend. I
Critics argued that they were primarily an attempt to suppress voters who disagreed with the Federalist party and its teachings, and violated the right of freedom of speech in the First Amendment.
Madison wrote this in 1799, when he was in a dispute about the constitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Laws, which was legislation enacted in 1798 by President John Adams' Federalist Party to ban seditious libel.

Benjamin Fairbanks

In November 1798, David Brown led a group in Dedham, Massachusetts, including Benjamin Fairbanks, in setting up a liberty pole with the words, "No Stamp Act, No Sedition Act, No Alien Bills, No Land Tax, downfall to the Tyrants of America; peace and retirement to the President; Long Live the Vice President." Brown was arrested in Andover, Massachusetts, but because he could not afford the $4,000 bail, he was taken to Salem for trial. Brown was tried in June 1799. Brown pleaded guilty, but Justice Samuel Chase asked him to name others who had assisted him. Brown refused, was fined $480, and sentenced to eighteen months in prison, the most severe sentence ever imposed under the Sedition Act.
Benjamin Fairbanks was an 18th-century farmer and selectmen from Dedham, Massachusetts who received the lightest sentence of anyone ever convicted under the Sedition Act of 1798.

James T. Callender

James CallenderJames Thompson CallenderJames Thomson Callender
James Thomson Callender, a Scottish citizen, had been expelled from Great Britain for his political writings. Living first in Philadelphia, then seeking refuge close by in Virginia, he wrote a book titled The Prospect Before Us (read and approved by Vice President Jefferson before publication) in which he called the Adams administration a "continual tempest of malignant passions" and the President a "repulsive pedant, a gross hypocrite and an unprincipled oppressor." Callender, already residing in Virginia and writing for the Richmond Examiner, was indicted in mid-1800 under the Sedition Act and convicted, fined $200, and sentenced to nine months in jail.
Subsequently, he was imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Acts, and later turned against his one-time Democratic-Republican patrons.

David Brown (Massachusetts)

David Brown
In November 1798, David Brown led a group in Dedham, Massachusetts, including Benjamin Fairbanks, in setting up a liberty pole with the words, "No Stamp Act, No Sedition Act, No Alien Bills, No Land Tax, downfall to the Tyrants of America; peace and retirement to the President; Long Live the Vice President." Brown was arrested in Andover, Massachusetts, but because he could not afford the $4,000 bail, he was taken to Salem for trial. Brown was tried in June 1799. Brown pleaded guilty, but Justice Samuel Chase asked him to name others who had assisted him. Brown refused, was fined $480, and sentenced to eighteen months in prison, the most severe sentence ever imposed under the Sedition Act.
David Brown (1740–1812) was convicted of sedition because of his criticism of the United States federal government and received the harshest sentence for anyone under the Sedition Act of 1798 for erecting the Dedham liberty pole.

Democratic-Republican Party

Democratic-RepublicanDemocratic-RepublicansRepublican
At the time, the majority of immigrants supported Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, the political opponents of the Federalists.
Jefferson and Madison were deeply upset by the unconstitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and they secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which called on state legislatures to nullify unconstitutional laws.

Federalist Party

FederalistFederalistsF
The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the Federalist-dominated 5th United States Congress and signed into law by President John Adams in 1798.
To silence Administration critics, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798.

James Madison

MadisonPresident MadisonPresident James Madison
Opposition to them resulted in the highly controversial Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, authored by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
The Federalists created a standing army and passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were directed at French refugees engaged in American politics and against Republican editors.

Albert Gallatin

GallatinistGallatinA. A. Albert Gallatin
It has been said that the Alien Acts were aimed at Albert Gallatin, and the Sedition Act aimed at Benjamin Bache's Aurora.
During the Quasi-War with France, Gallatin criticized military expenditures and opposed passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Secession in the United States

secessionsecessionistsecede
Though the resolutions followed Madison's "interposition" approach, Jefferson advocated nullification and at one point drafted a threat for Kentucky to secede.
In response to the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts—advanced by the Federalist Party—John Taylor of the Virginia House of Delegates spoke out, urging Virginia to secede from the United States.

Marbury v. Madison

judicial precedentjudicial reviewMarbury
The Alien and Sedition Acts were never appealed to the Supreme Court, whose right of judicial review was not clearly established until Marbury v. Madison in 1803.
American public opinion had gradually turned against the Federalists in the months prior to the election, mainly due to their use of the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts, as well as growing tensions with Great Britain, with whom the Federalists favored close ties.

Smith Act

Smith LawAlien Registration ActAlien Registration Act of 1940
Alien Registration Act of 1940
The U.S. government has attempted on several occasions to regulate speech in wartime, beginning with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

Nullification Crisis

nullificationnullification movementNullification Convention
Nullification Crisis
Later in the decade the Alien and Sedition Acts led to the states' rights position being articulated in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions.

Nullification (U.S. Constitution)

nullificationnullifynull and void
Though the resolutions followed Madison's "interposition" approach, Jefferson advocated nullification and at one point drafted a threat for Kentucky to secede.
The earliest assertion of the theories of nullification and interposition is found in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, which were a protest against the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Naturalization Act of 1798

Naturalization Act
They made it harder for an immigrant to become a citizen (Naturalization Act), allowed the president to imprison and deport non-citizens who were deemed dangerous (Alien Friends Act of 1798) or who were from a hostile nation (Alien Enemy Act of 1798), and criminalized making false statements that were critical of the federal government (Sedition Act of 1798).
The Naturalization Act of 1798 is considered one of the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed contemporaneously in 1798.

Samuel Chase

Chaseimpeachment of Samuel ChaseSamuel Chase impeachment trial
In November 1798, David Brown led a group in Dedham, Massachusetts, including Benjamin Fairbanks, in setting up a liberty pole with the words, "No Stamp Act, No Sedition Act, No Alien Bills, No Land Tax, downfall to the Tyrants of America; peace and retirement to the President; Long Live the Vice President." Brown was arrested in Andover, Massachusetts, but because he could not afford the $4,000 bail, he was taken to Salem for trial. Brown was tried in June 1799. Brown pleaded guilty, but Justice Samuel Chase asked him to name others who had assisted him. Brown refused, was fined $480, and sentenced to eighteen months in prison, the most severe sentence ever imposed under the Sedition Act.
Earlier in April 1800, Chase acting as a district judge, had made strong attacks upon Thomas Cooper, who had been indicted under the Alien and Sedition Acts; Chase had taken the air of a prosecutor rather than a judge.

George Washington

WashingtonGeneral WashingtonPresident Washington
Benjamin Franklin Bache was editor of the Philadelphia Aurora, a Democratic-Republican newspaper. Bache had accused George Washington of incompetence and financial irregularities, and "the blind, bald, crippled, toothless, querulous Adams" of nepotism and monarchical ambition. He was arrested in 1798 under the Sedition Act, but he died of yellow fever before trial.
He became an even more committed Federalist, vocal in his support of the Alien and Sedition Acts, convincing Federalist John Marshall to run for Congress to weaken the Jeffersonian hold on Virginia.