Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

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The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions
The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions sparked great controversy throughout the United States during 1798 and 1799. The resolutions were manifestos that protested against the Federalist Alien and Sedition Acts. The authors of the resolutions remained anonymous, but were written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who were upset with how the Federalists were ruling the nation. These two republicans knew something needed to be done for the central government to be limited and the states to gain more power.

Madison's Virginia Resolution declared that state legislatures had never surrendered their right to judge the constitutionality of federal actions and that they retained an authority called interposition. This authority enabled them to protect the liberties and rights of their citizens. An example of Madison expressing his will was when he stated "The General Assembly doth solemenly appeal to the like dispositions of the other states, in confidence that they will concur with this commonwealth in declaring, as it does hereby declare, that the acts aforesaid, are unconstitutional ; and that the necessary and proper measures will be taken by each, for co-operating with this state, in maintaining the Authorities, Rights, and Liberties, referred to the States respectively, or to the people." Madison wanted the people's civil liberties to be protected because he felt the Federal government was passing laws that were considered unconstitutional and violating citizen's rights and yet were still being enforced.

In Jefferson's resolution for Kentucky, he went even further by declaring that ultimate sovereignty rested with the states, which empowered them to reject federal laws to which they objected. He stated, "To their resolutions passed at the last session, respecting certain unconstitutional laws of Congress, commonly called the alien and sedition laws, would be faithless indeed to themselves, and to those they...
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