Alien + Sedition Acts

Table of Content

Alien and Sedition Acts DBQ

In June and July of 1798, the Alien and Sedition acts passed through congress, which created dispute between the Federalists and Republicans due to the four factors of Political Ideology, Domestic Policies, Constitutionality and Foreign Affairs. Political Ideology as the two disputing factions, the Federalists and Republicans fought profusely over the passing of these acts, one side in support, and the other against. Then Domestic Policies as these acts tried to restrict immigration laws that brought the Republican Party in an uproar. Constitutionality as many questioned the validity of the Constitution as the Sedition act placed limitations upon the first amendment. Lastly, Foreign Affairs as the XYZ affair sparked a dispute between the pro-French Republicans and the Federalists who refused to apologize to the French for Adams anti-French remarks. The debate over the Alien and Sedition acts of 1798 portrayed bitter controversies over four factors of Political Ideology, Domestic Policy, Constitutionality and Foreign Affairs.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Political Ideology during this era split into two factions, of Republicans, Led by Thomas Jefferson, and the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, who held the presidency in this period on the Federalists side. These two sides fought tirelessly against each other in regards to the Alien and Sedition acts. As portrayed in Document C, it reveals the ill-disposed feelings between the two parties, as Thomas Jefferson writes to France this: “Therefore I protest to you I am not of the party of Federalists,” what Thomas Jefferson writes here explains his political thoughts of the Party, as he would not want to be mistaken for a Federalist, as he wishes to clear the table with the French and does not agree with Adams’ decision to not apologize to France. But then in Document D, Hamilton reveals his dislike for the opposing party of Republicans as he states in a letter, “ But I am persuaded there is not a man among them who would not regard as both criminal and visionary my attempt to subvert the Republican system of this country.” What Hamilton exclaims here reveals his theory of the republicans wanting to destroy what the country truly stands for;

However, the Republicans possessed a similar theory when Thomas Jefferson proposed the Federalists wished to destroy the nation with Hamilton’s economic reform program (Doc. E). In another letter Thomas Jefferson states that Political parties are unneeded and he usually would not take part in such an insubordinate act, but when the principle of the parties were as different as the Federalists and the Republicans then he refused to stand back and watch but instead take part in (Doc. F). What Thomas Jefferson means by differences would be who is for, and against the Alien and Sedition acts, as it is a major change within the nation and affects everyone drastically, depicting the contrast between the Federalists and Republicans, continuing to fight over these acts. Then in a letter to Italy, Thomas Jefferson puts down the thought of federalists as he describes the opposing party as an “Anglican, monarchical and aristocratical party,” again disagreeing with the Federalists ideologies (Doc. G).

This bickering between the parties caught the attention of a British foreigner who frequented the nation but while observing he wrote to his father: “The intolerance is greater in this country…upon the subject of politics…each party openly descanting upon the probability…. to extirpate the opponent one…. politics has so divided men.” The Englishman here watches the people and how politics and different ideologies have separated them to the point in which they will fight and debate (Doc. S). Despite Washington’s farewell speech regarding the use of Political Parties, the nation did not fail to disappoint Washington’s last words as leader of this nation, by creating what Washington wanted least, the people divided and sectioned off to their own ideologies (Doc. H).

Domestic Policy reflected the Alien and Sedition acts greatly regarding immigration restrictions and who the government can and can not keep out of this country, with one faction being for Immigration and again, the other, against. One faction, the Federalists, discouraged Immigration as exampled by Thomas Jefferson when said he will accept it but rather not have it in fear of radicalism (Doc. A). While the opposing faction, the Republicans encouraged immigration greatly as they favored the United States growing by means of population (Doc. B), a main reason why they run into problems with the acts as they enforce restrictions upon immigrants and immigration. Three out of the four acts in regards to the Alien and Sedition acts deal with handling foreigners. The first act, the naturalization act claimed that citizens required a fourteen-year residency period prior to naturalization (Doc. T), this changed the Domestic Policy, as did the other two which gave the president power of deportation of immigrants (Doc. U), which arose controversy as many Republicans believed this gave the President far too much power. Then, the third act which allowed deportation of immigrants of a hostile nation in time of war, even if they are citizens, a violation of freedom (Doc. V). Timothy Pickering, a man in support of these acts writes, “The constitution was established for the protection and security of American citizens, and not of intriguing foreigners.” What Pickering argued here is in support of this Domestic Policy act, where the topic of Immigration remains a controversy within itself (Doc. C2). From a newspaper source, The American Pageant, it explains the aristocratic Federalist Party and in regards to European immigrants reported this, “Most European immigrants, lacking wealth, were scorned by the aristocratic federalist party. But they were welcomed by the … more democratic Jeffersonians.” The American Pageant states that the Immigrants are not voting for the republicans because of their stance on immigration and rivalry towards the alien and sedition acts. (Doc. F2).

The Constitutionality of the United States was at stake as the government passed the Alien and Sedition acts which held journalists accountable for writing slander against the government, and jailed them for doing so, limiting guaranteed rights towards the first amendment. More times than often, the Republicans and Journalists questioned the constitutionality of the Federalists as exampled in a letter from Alexander Hamilton which states: “I hope sincerely the thing may not be hurried through. Let us not establish a tyranny.” Although Hamilton stands by the Federalists, he too expresses the uneasiness towards the Sedition act, but he does support it, he just expresses his concern towards how fast congress passed it (Doc. O). Again, in a speech delivered by a democratic-republican, whom stands in the Republican view, states worrisome towards the Sedition Act as he remarks that the principles of the act go against the constitution and the reason for their passing could later be used as a weapon by the Federalists to uphold their authority in government, he expresses fear in freedom may fall (Doc. P). But, in another speech spoken by a democratic-republican, speaks hate towards the act as well when said, “The president alone is empowered to make the law, to fix in on his mind what acts, what words, what thoughts or looks shall constitute the crime contemplated by the bill,” the words spoken here describe this speakers feelings towards the acts, as like the others they paint a very clear picture of a despot or tyranny system, something many are worried will happen if Adams gained too much power (Doc. Q). However the constitutionality of the Nation was greatly questioned when the Sedition act condemned the first amendment which prohibited journalists from writing slander against the government (Doc. W), many believed this act plotted an overthrow of the government by the Federalists to gain more control and power, spreading fear across the nation (Doc. K).

This act brought on suspicion and fear as many concerned themselves with what they could and could not write about especially after James Callendar faced jail time and a fine for distributing slander against the president (Doc. D2), this case created a huge issue on government intervention within the nation. Then, In the draft of the Kentucky Resolution of 1798, Thomas Jefferson considered the Alien and Sedition acts unconstitutional and figured the Federal government was out of control under the federalists reign, as the sedition act caused panic throughout the nation (Doc. A2). Later on the Kentucky Resolution finalized itself and now states again that the government assumes undelegated powers, clarifying that the government is trying to harness too much power (Doc. G2). However, in another resolution, this time the Rhode Island resolution of 1799, states that, “That in the opinion of this legislature…the authority of deciding on the constitutionality of any act or law of the congress of the United States.” The Rhode Island resolution declares that these acts are left in the hands of the Judicial Branch to decide whether or not they are unconstitutional, revealing that they still place faith into the United States and the powers of the Constitution” (Doc. E2).

Foreign Affairs during nineteenth century United States arose trouble in the nation as Adams refused to apologize to France and the XYZ affair ignited trouble between the two fighting factions. The XYZ affair occurred when three Americans sought a treaty of friendship with France but upon arrival the Americans received demands from France for a load, bribe and apology from Adams; however Adams did not submit to this request which sparked a fight between the Republicans, who wished to remain allies with the French (Doc. L), and the Federalists who found an apology a fools request and deemed anyone in support of an apology a traitor (Doc. I).

John Adams believed the French’s tactic to destroy American from the inside out involved tearing the American people away from its government, this concept developed by Adams portrays the dissolution between the two factions as he believes the French want to destroy the nations peace (Doc. J) while Jefferson believes Adams uses this affair to destroy the Republicans (Doc. N), a very, very, messy situation. Although not all Federalists possessed the idea to destroy the Republican faction, although some did, as revealed in a letter from a federalist, Theodore Sedgwick, as he states, “It will afford a glorious opportunity to destroy factions.” Although it is unclear whether he means destroying the republicans or not, he does provide the possible chance for demolition of a party, whether it be the Federalists or Republicans (Doc. K). A popular political cartoon of the time revealed the XYZ affair, portraying the French wanting money from Adams and Adams retorting back with a comment of anti-French, revealing the difference between the two parties as Jefferson supported the French while the Federalists did not (Doc. M).

The time from the passing of the Alien and Sedition acts to the end of Adams presidency revealed great controversies over four acts passed by congress due to the four issues of Political Ideology, Domestic Policy, Constitutionality and Foreign Affairs. Political Ideology as both parties competed against each other in terms of immigration, sedition laws and different interpretations of the Constitution. Then Domestic Policy as one faction supported the immigration while the other fought against it. The Constitutionality facto of the nation was questioned greatly by the people as many citizens concerns ignited controversy within the USA on worry that the government possessed too much power and their first amendment rights were being revoked (Doc. B2). Then, last, Foreign Affairs as the XYZ affair sparked controversy between the anti-French faction and the pro-French faction. The debate over the Alien and Sedition acts brought upon many issues among the people with the four factors of Political Ideology, Domestic Policy, Constitutionality and Foreign Affairs.

Cite this page

Alien + Sedition Acts. (2017, Jan 15). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront