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.