Alien and Sedition Acts - 1

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u.s. hISORY hONORS|
Alien and Sedition Acts|
Historical Essay|
|
Emilee Lord|
8/25/2012|

A brief essay on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and why they were a poor decision by the United States’ young government. |

When viewing the era of the Adams’ administration, with all the political turmoil that is associated with it, historians continually come to analyze one set of acts in particular, The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, to try to determine whether or not these acts were a wise move on the part of the government. These acts, which allowed for the president to arrest or deport any alien he thought to be treasonous, called for any persons’ arrest that spoke out against the government, and required a report to the federal government of any immigrant aboard a vessel, were extremely unpopular (Document 1A). For reasons of unconstitutionality, causing a greater rift in the two political parties of the time, and overloading presidential power, these acts were wrongly set forth and were bad for the welfare of the United States. In a direct violation of the rights afforded by the first amendment of the Constitution, namely that of freedom of speech, The Alien and Sedition Acts, forbade any “malicious” word, spoken or written, against the United States government (Document 1B). This act was passed by the Federalist-majority government at the time for the purpose of silencing the growing dissent of Democratic-Republicans who were criticizing the president, John Adams, for his pro-British stance and poor dealings with the French in the XYZ Affair that led to an undeclared naval war for two years beginning in 1798 (textbook). Nothing that is remotely unconstitutional should be allowed passage into law as were the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, for such things can only hurt the country and stall the spread of nationalism, which was really what America needed at the time if it wanted to seem powerful and self-sufficient to other countries...
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