Controversies as a Result of the Alien and Sedition Acts

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In the late 1700s and into the early 1800s, large controversies over the Alien and the Sedition Acts, containing four bills, took place. Some of the controversies included immigration, slander and libel of the government, and states’ rights. While the controversy set the stage for Jefferson’s election, it also left some in tense and unsettled states.

The Alien and Sedition Acts brought many disagreements upon the states. The Acts had two bills that seemed to stand out most among the government. The second bill of the Alien and Sedition Acts gave the President power to deport “all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United Stats.” Just before the Acts were created, President George Washington wrote to the Vice-President John Adams in 1794 of his believe that immigrants brought with them not only their language, but their habits and formal morals too. Later, he goes on to say, that this is not particularly a bad thing because as time goes on, as generations grow, all people will become one. Just before that though, in 1785, Thomas Jefferson had made close to the same note, but a bit different. He believed it would be a miracle for the morals and beliefs of the immigrants to halt in changing at the exact point of liberty. He believed that infusing the aliens into our United States would create a “heterogeneous, incoherent, distracted mass.” Altogether, immigration was an extremely controversial topic. Each person had their own opinion, especially the rising parties who seemed to almost separate the nation more.

While the Acts had allowed the President this power, it also prohibited the slander of libel of the President or any other part of the government. It seems to almost be a coincidence. After this was passed, Federalist prosecutors arrested more than twenty Republican newspaper editors and politicians. The Federalists had accused them of sedition, and convicted and jailed a number of them. Many believed that this part of...
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