The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed in 1798 by the Federalists in the 5th United States Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution and during an undeclared naval war with France, later known as the Quasi-War. They were signed into law by President John Adams. Opposition to Federalists among Democratic-Republicans reached new heights at this time since the Democratic-Republicans had supported France. Some even seemed to want an event similar to the French Revolution to come to the United States to overthrow the government. When Democratic-Republicans in some states refused to enforce federal laws, and even threatened to rebel, Federalists threatened to send the army to force them to capitulate. As the unrest sweeping Europe was bleeding over into the United States, calls for secession reached unparalleled heights, and the fledgling nation seemed ready to rip itself apart. Some of this was seen by Federalists as having been caused by French and French-sympathizing immigrants. The acts were thus meant to guard against this real threat of anarchy. Democratic-Republicans denounced them, though they did use them after the 1800 election against Federalists. They became a major political issue in the elections of 1798 and 1800. They were very controversial in their own day, as they remain to the present day. Opposition to them resulted in the highly controversial Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, authored by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.
Famous quotes containing the words alien, sedition and/or acts:
“The Jew is neither a newcomer nor an alien in this country or on this continent; his Americanism is as original and ancient as that of any race or people with the exception of the American Indian and other aborigines. He came in the caravels of Columbus, and he knocked at the gates of New Amsterdam only thirty-five years after the Pilgrim Fathers stepped ashore on Plymouth Rock.”
—Oscar Solomon Straus (18501926)
“It is dangerous to tell the people that the laws are unjust; for they obey them only because they think them just. Therefore it is necessary to tell them at the same time that they must obey them because they are laws, just as they must obey superiors, not because they are just, but because they are superiors. In this way all sedition is prevented.”
—Blaise Pascal (16231662)
“I regard the inflation acts as wrong in all ways. Personally I am one of the noble army of debtors, and can stand it if others can. But it is a wretched business.”
—Rutherford Birchard Hayes (18221893)