Alien and Sedition Acts

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22 October 2012
Alien and Sedition Acts

In 1798 the United States was involved in an undeclared war with France. “The United States again stood on the brink of war with a major European power, only this time instead of Great Britain the hostile nation was France.”(Hay 141) Later on the Federalist Party passed a series of four laws which were called the Alien and Sedition Acts and the Federalists saw foreigners as a deep threat to American security. There were a series of four acts that were adopted to alienate aliens. The first of these acts was the Naturalization Act which was passed by Congress on June 18. This act required that aliens be residents for 14 years instead of 5 years before they become eligible for United States citizenship. The second major act was the Alien Act which authorized the President to deport aliens who were dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States during peacetime. Furthermore the third act was the Alien Enemies Act which allowed wartime arrest, imprisonment and deportation of any alien from an enemy power. The last of these acts was the Sedition Act which consisted of, if there was any treasonable activity, including publication of any false or scandalous writing was wrong and punishable by fine or imprisonment. These acts helped to assist the government's sense of security for the United States. Although the government accepted the acts, people like James Madison were against for what the acts stood for. To protest the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were written to show that the acts were unconstitutional in the since that any acts of Congress that were not authorized by the Constitution and violated on the reserved powers of the states. Stating that the federal government can’t create new powers for itself and it must be approved by the states of the people.

The second major act that was approved was the Alien Act and it’s stated in Section 1, “That whenever there shall be a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation or government, or any invasion or predatory incursion shall be perpetrated, attempted, or threatened against the territory of the United States, by any foreign nation or government, and the President of the United States shall make public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies. And the President of the United States shall be, and he is hereby authorized, in any event, as aforesaid, by his proclamation thereof, or other public act, to direct the conduct to be observed, on the part of the United States, towards the aliens who shall become liable, as aforesaid; the manner and degree of the restraint to which they shall be subject, and in what cases, and upon what security their residence shall be permitted, and to provide for the removal of those, who, not being permitted to reside within the United States, shall refuse or neglect to depart there from; and to establish any other regulations which shall be found necessary in the premises and for the public safety: Provided, that aliens resident within the United States, who shall become liable as enemies, in the manner aforesaid, and who shall not be chargeable with actual hostility, or other crime against the public safety, shall be allowed, for the recovery, disposal, and removal of their goods and effects, and for their departure, the full time which is, or shall be stipulated by any treaty, where any shall have been between the United States, and the hostile nation or government, of which they shall be natives, citizens, denizens or subjects: and where no such treaty shall have existed, the President of the United States may...
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