The Alien and Sedition Acts were a series of four bills passed in June and July of 1798 that revealed the disagreements between Federalists and Democratic Republicans. The two parties debated over many things, such as foreign policy, the strength of federal government, and states’ rights. These debates defined the effort to decide our country’s future. Examples of the differences between Federalist and Democratic Republican views are the French Revolution, Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions, and the XYZ Affair. These events all resulted in conflicts of the late 1790’s.
This decade was a time of international crisis and discord. The Federalists opposed the Democratic Republicans’ attachment to France. Alexander Hamilton, the leader of the Federalists, thought that Britain was superior and believed that the U.S. should model our government after theirs (Document D). Jefferson argued that Britain wasn’t democratic enough and we would lose our republican policies if we used their form of government (Document E).
The Alien and Sedition acts obviously were in favor of Federalists and were passed by them to ensure a win in the election of 1800. The Alien and Sedition acts caused the requirement for naturalization as a citizen to be fourteen years. New immigrants were poor and would have favored the Democratic Republicans, but by taking their right to vote away, the Federalists were given an advantage. Democratic Republicans did not agree with the Acts and argued that they were unconstitutional. The Acts were an example of British influence on the Federalists because it gave government too much power (Documents P & Q). The XYZ Affair infuriated the country. The French were perceived by Americans as murderers with a corrupt government (Document M). Democratic Republicans lost a large amount of support because of their French ideas. This period of unpopularity for the Democratic Republicans allowed Federalists to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts. The French Revolution...
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