Alien and Sedition Acts

Essay by riri88High School, 10th gradeA+, September 2014

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The Alien and Sedition Acts

As president in 1797, John Adams and the Federalist Party controlled congress. They approved of how they ran things and did not accept criticism. The Federalists believed that the French were a threat. In response to the French foreign threat, The Federalists who were in the majority sought to repress domestic protest. A series of laws known collectively as the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed by the Federalists Congress in 1798 and signed into law by President Adams. These laws included new powers to deport foreigners as well as making it harder for new immigrants to vote. The most controversial of the new laws permitting strong government control over individual actions was the Sedition Act. In essence, this Act prohibited public opposition to the government. Fines and imprisonment could be used those against those who "write, print, utter, or publish … any false scandalous and malicious writing" against the government.

The Alien and Sedition Acts definitely posed a threat to American liberty by interfering with the Bill of Rights which granted freedom of speech and the press and by giving too much power to the president to deport and arrest aliens.

The first act that made becoming a citizen very difficult was the Naturalization Act. Immigrants had to live in the United States from five years to fourteen years before they could become citizens. Not only did this keep them from being able to vote for a long time, but their basic rights were infringed upon for a longer time. Another of the Alien Acts that caused discomfort and fear in immigrants was the Alien Friends Act. If any non-citizen was suspected of plotting against the government during either wartime or peacetime, the President could deport them. This threat once again infringed upon...