Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798

 

John Adams

Definition of Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
Definition: The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were a collection of four laws that were passed by Congress in the aftermath of the French Revolution and during the Quasi War with France. The names and dates the laws were passed are as follows:

June 18, 1798: The Naturalization Act
June 25, 1798: The Alien Act (aka The Alien Friends Act)
July 6, 1798: The Alien Enemy Act
July 14, 1798: The Sedition Act

The first three acts restricted the rights of immigrants and the Sedition Act, free speech.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
John Adams was the 2nd American President who served in office from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801. One of the important events during his presidency was the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids - History and Background
The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were the result of deep concerns over the violent events and terror of the French Revolution, the wave of hostility towards France following the insult and humiliation of the XYZ Affair and the naval Quasi War with France. All of these events contributed to the suspicion of foreigners.

Reason for the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids - The Federalists
Reasons for the Alien and Sedition Acts: The laws were instigated by the
Federalists under the excuse of National Security and the fear of the 'enemy within'. It was aimed at making the nation safe for trade and wealthy men of property. The Federalist political party, led by Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris and John Adams believed that once the people had elected their political leaders, no one should publicly criticize them.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids - President John Adams
John Adams called the Alien and Sedition Acts "war measures." President Adams signed the Acts into law on July 14, the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille that had begun the French Revolution.  The Alien Acts comprised of two separate acts: The Alien Friends Act and the Alien Enemies Act. The laws expired on March 3, 1801, the last full day of his presidential term in office.

Opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids - The Democratic-Republicans
The Democratic-Republican Party were bitterly opposed to the Federalists. Led by Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and James Madison the Republicans aimed at representing the poorer Americans and recent immigrants.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 - June 18, 1798: The Naturalization Act
On June 18, 1798 the law called the Naturalization Act was passed. The Naturalization Act required that aliens (meaning foreigners) had to be residents for 14 years, instead of 5 years, before they became eligible for U.S. citizenship. This law meant that immigrants must wait before obtaining U.S. citizenship and the right to vote.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 - June 25, 1798: The Alien Friends Act
On June 25, 1798 the law called the Alien Friends Act was passed.  The Alien Friends Act authorized the President to deport foreigners "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States" during peacetime. (This law was aimed at foreign spies and the deportation of any alien who hailed from a country at war with the United States.)

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 - July 6, 1798: The Alien Enemy Act
On July 6, 1798 the law called the Alien Enemy Act was passed. The Alien Enemy Act authorized the arrest, imprisonment and deportation of any alien subject to an enemy power, during the time of war. (The Alien Enemy Act was not used until the
War of 1812.)

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 - July 14, 1798: The Sedition Act
On July 14, 1798 the law called the Sedition Act was passed. The Sedition Act declared that any activity deemed to be treasonable, including the publication of "any false, scandalous and malicious writing," was a high misdemeanor (crime), punishable by fine and imprisonment.

 

Presidential Seal

 

The Effect of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
The first three laws, reducing and denying the rights of immigrants to the United States were never actioned. However, the fourth law (the Sedition Act), was put into practice by the Federalists. Over twenty men, most of them editors of Republican newspapers, were arrested, some were imprisoned and their newspapers were forced to close. The arrests were made as their newspapers had printed what the government considered to be malicious remarks about the president, or government, of the United States of America. (It should be noted that Thomas Jefferson had established a newspaper and launched a media campaign against the Federalist political party, calling them monarchists.) Amongst those arrested and imprisoned, as was Benjamin Franklin Bache, the editor of the Aurora and the grandson of Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin Bache died awaiting trial.

Reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
The passing of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 caused the outrage of US Citizens. The strength of opposition was so great that the government feared a bloody and violent uprising and riots, such as the events during the French Revolution. The laws were believed to be unconstitutional and in opposition to the US Bill of Rights and the freedom of speech. President John Adams even feared for his life, as did many Federalist politicians. The public opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts was so immense that they were, in part,  responsible for the election of Thomas Jefferson, a Republican, to the presidency in 1800.

Opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 - Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798 - 1799)
In opposition to the passing of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 Thomas Jefferson and James Madison drafted the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (Resolves).

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids
The info about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 provides interesting facts and important information about this important event that occured during the presidency of the 2nd President of the United States of America.

DISCLAIMER: This website and any information contained herein are intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel from a lawyer for advice on any legal matter.

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids - President John Adams Video
The article on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 provides an overview of one of the Important issues of his presidential term in office. The following video will give you additional important facts, history and dates about the political events experienced by the 2nd American President whose presidency spanned from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801.

 

 

 

Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
 
Interesting Facts about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for kids and schools
Interesting facts about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
Facts about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
John Adams Presidency from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801
Fast, fun, interesting facts about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
Foreign & Domestic policies of President John Adams
John Adams Presidency and Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 for schools, homework, kids and children

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