Hoe het die Alien and Sedition -dade verloop?

Hoe het die Alien and Sedition -dade verloop?



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Daar word beweer dat die Alien and Sedition -handelinge wat in 1798 uitgevaardig is, 'n poging van die Federalistiese Party was om opposisie te onderdruk.

In hoofstuk 74, afdeling 2, blyk dit dat die wet beperkings op vryheid van spraak plaas, wat die eerste wysiging skend. Hoe het 'n wetsontwerp wat die grondwet oortree, daarin geslaag om die Kongres, die president en (hoewel daar nog nie geregtelike hersiening was nie) die Hooggeregshof te slaag?


Regtig eenvoudig, die federaliste het destyds 'n meerderheid in beide kongreshuise gehad en die presidentskap beklee. Hulle het dus die mag gehad om dit te doen.

Hulle het kwaai aanvalle gekry van Jefferson en Madison se nuut georganiseerde Demokratiese-Republikeinse Party, wat pas sy eerste presidensiële veldtog in die vorige siklus uitgevoer het, en sy eie netwerk van koerante ontwikkel het wat redaksies teen administrasie uitpomp. Die Fédériste sou dus 'n bietjie beleër gevoel het, wat u 'n deel van hul motivering gee. Vrees het 'n nare gewoonte om goeie mense te laat vaar van hul beginsels.

Die ander deel was dat daar destyds 'n onverklaarde vlootoorlog met Frankryk was, die Quasi-oorlog genoem. Destyds het baie ernstig aangevoer dat Republieke nie in staat was om effektief oorlog te voer nie. Die nuwe grondwet het 'n paar bepalings hiervoor, maar die hele saak is nog nie getoets nie. 'N Reeks oorlogstyd met 'n tydsbeperking om die regering in staat te stel om met minder politieke wrywing te werk terwyl vyandighede voortduur, het vir baie na 'n goeie idee gelyk*. Veral vir diegene van dieselfde party as die betrokke regering.

En uiteindelik was immigrante en die pers geneig om kant te staan ​​met die Demokrate-Republikeine. Om hul regte aan te val was dus 'n goeie manier om die DR's te beperk. Destyds is gedink dat die wette veral gemik was op leier van die minderheid in die huis, Albert Gallatin (wie se moedertaal Frans was), en Benjamin Franklin Bache (hoof van die mees prominente DR koerant en kleinseun van Benjamin Franklin).

Wat die Hooggeregshof betref, was daar inderdaad 'n jarelange beginsel van Judicial Review in die Engelse reg en in die verskillende state. Dus, alhoewel SCOTUS dit nog nooit gebruik het nie, sou hulle dit kon doen as hulle wou. Die hele hof is egter ook deur federaliste aangestel, dus vanuit 'n politieke oogpunt sou daar geen motivering daarvoor gewees het nie. Die eerste SCOTUS-staking van 'n wet moes wag totdat hierdie federalistiese regters teen 'n Demokraties-Republikeinse kongres te staan ​​gekom het.

* - Klink dit bekend?


Vir ons lyk die Sedition Act ondenkbaar in stryd met Amerikaanse waardes. Dit het vir Federaliste nie so gelyk nie, so dit behoort geen verrassing te wees dat die federalistiese meerderhede hierdie wetsontwerpe ondersteun nie. Trouens, die sedisiewet was vir baie 'n liberale wet:

Ironies genoeg, die Seditions Act was eintlik 'n liberalisering van die gemenereg van oproerige laster wat in die staatshowe voortgegaan het. Onder die nuwe federale statuut ... kan die waarheid van wat gesê of gepubliseer is, as 'n verweer erken word, en kan jurie nie net die feite van die saak beslis nie (het so-en-so hierdie spesifieke stuk gepubliseer?), Maar ook die wet ... Nóg die waarheid as 'n verweer of die besluit van die jurie was volgens die Amerikaanse gemenereg toegelaat. Sommige federaliste was inderdaad van mening dat die nasionale regering nie eens 'n statuut nodig het om oproerige laster te straf nie (p. 260)

Die Sedition Act was ook sag in vergelyking met die Britse wetgewing (die mees redelike vergelyking):

In vergelyking met die strawwe strawwe wat Brittanje opgetree het tydens sy sedisie-verhore van 1793-1794-individue wat veertien jaar lank na Australië vervoer is omdat hulle die geringste twyfel oor die oorlog met Frankryk uitgespreek het-die Amerikaanse strawwe vir oproerige laster was mak (bl. 259)

Sowel die Federaliste as die Republikeine was baie bewus van die nuutheid van die Amerikaanse eksperiment, en albei was bang dat die geskiedenis leer dat republieke dikwels in tirannie verval. Die belangrikste ideologiese gevegte van die dag was oor watter omstandighede die republikeinse regering die beste kan behou. Die federaliste het geglo in 'n hiërargiese, geordende samelewing onder leiding van 'n natuurlike elite; hulle het gesien dat die Alien and Sedition optree as 'n steun wat die samelewing beveel het. Die Republikeine het die dade beskou as die vernietiging van vryheid. Uiteindelik het die Republikeine gewen, en hulle het die basiese politieke filosofiese raamwerk vasgestel waarbinne alle daaropvolgende politieke debatte sou plaasvind.


Bron: Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic


Die belangrikste ding om te weet is dat die uitvaardiging van die Wet op vreemdelinge en sedisie die 'hoogwatermerk' van die Federalistiese party verteenwoordig. Anders gestel, dit het gestyg en geval met hierdie twee dade.

Die federaliste het altyd die senaat beheer, en die kongresverkiesings in 1794 het hulle beheer oor die Huis van Verteenwoordigers gegee. Uiteindelik, in 1796, klop John Adams Thomas Jefferson vir die presidensie met drie verkiesingsstemme, met Adams wat die vyf New England State, New York, New Jersey, Maryland en Delaware kry, en Jefferson kry ses suidelike state plus Pennsylvania.

Die federaliste verteenwoordig die sake- en bankbelange van die noordooste van die Verenigde State, op die manier van Alexander Hamilton, terwyl Jefferson die suidelike agrariese belange verteenwoordig. Die federaliste regverdig die verloop van die wette deur Hamilton se leerstelling van 'geïmpliseerde magte' van die Grondwet. Laastens het die federaliste baat by buitelandse ontwikkelings; die Franse Revolusie en 'n naby-oorlog met Frankryk in 1797 versterk die hande van die pro-Britse, pro-sentrale regering, Federalist teen die pro-Franse, "state regte" Jeffersonians.

Die "kompenserende" koalisie van suidelike landbouers en noordelike immigrante verslaan Adams en die Federaliste in 1800; Die staat New York het 'van kant' verander en sy verkiesingsstemme aan Jefferson (en Aaron Burr) gegee, wat beteken dat Jefferson en Burr elk agt meer kiesstemme as Adams gehad het. Nadat hy deur die kongres as president aangewys is, het Jefferson in 1801 die grootste deel van die wet op vreemdeling en sedisie laat "sak" en die meeste mense (sy bondgenote) wat onder hulle beboet is of in die tronk gestop het, vergewe.

Waarom die Hooggeregshof niks gedoen het nie, was dit nie 'n volledige 'derde tak' van die regering ten tyde van die Wet op Vreemdeling en Sedisie nie; in werklikheid, eers nadat die beginsel van geregtelike hersiening in 1805 deur Marbury v. Madison vasgestel is. Onlangse beslissings van die Hooggeregshof oor vrye spraak dui daarop dat die Wet op vreemdeling en sedisie deur 'n ten volle bevoegde Hooggeregshof ongrondwetlik sou wees.


Wet op vreemdelinge en sedisie

Ons redakteurs gaan na wat u ingedien het, en bepaal of hulle die artikel moet hersien.

Wet op vreemdelinge en sedisie, (1798), vier interne veiligheidswette wat deur die Amerikaanse kongres aangeneem is, wat vreemdelinge beperk en die oormaat van 'n onbeperkte pers beperk, in afwagting van 'n verwagte oorlog met Frankryk.

Na die XYZ -saak (1797) het oorlog met Frankryk onvermydelik voorgekom. Federaliste, wat daarvan bewus was dat Franse militêre suksesse in Europa baie vergemaklik is deur politieke dissidente in binnegevalle lande, het probeer om so 'n ondergang in die Verenigde State te voorkom en het die Wet op vreemdeling en sedisie aanvaar as deel van 'n reeks militêre paraatheidsmaatreëls.

Die drie vreemdelingwette wat in Junie en Julie aangeneem is, was gemik op Franse en Ierse immigrante, wat meestal pro-Frans was. Hierdie wette het die wagtydperk vir naturalisasie van 5 tot 14 jaar verhoog, die aanhouding van onderdane van 'n vyandelike nasie moontlik gemaak en die uitvoerende hoof gemagtig om enige vreemdeling wat hy as gevaarlik beskou, te verdryf. Die Sedition Act (14 Julie) verbied die publisering van vals of kwaadwillige geskrifte teen die regering en die aanhitsing van opposisie teen enige optrede van die kongres of die president - praktyke wat in sommige gevalle reeds deur staatsbeledigingswetgewing en die gemenereg verbied is, maar nie deur federale wet. Die federale handeling het die onderdrukking van prosedures in die vervolging van sulke oortredings verminder, maar het voorsiening gemaak vir federale handhawing.

Die dade was sag in vergelyking met latere veiligheidsmaatreëls in die Verenigde State, en dit was op sommige plekke nie gewild nie. Jeffersoniese Republikeine het hulle egter kragtig teengestaan ​​as 'n drastiese beperking van die vryheid in die resolusies van Virginia en Kentucky, wat die ander staatswetgewers óf geïgnoreer het óf as subversief bestempel het. Geen vreemdelinge is gedeporteer nie, maar daar was 25 vervolgings, wat tot 10 skuldigbevindings gelei het, ingevolge die sedisiewet. Terwyl die oorlogsbedreiging verbygaan en die Republikeine in 1800 beheer oor die federale regering verkry het, het al die vreemdeling- en sedisiewette gedurende die volgende twee jaar verstryk of is dit herroep, behalwe die Wet op uitheemse vyande, wat van krag was en in 1918 gewysig is tot vroue insluit.


Amerikaanse kongres aanvaar sedisiewet

Op 16 Mei 1918 neem die Amerikaanse kongres die Sedition Act aan, 'n wetgewing wat ontwerp is om die deelname van Amerika aan die Eerste Wêreldoorlog te beskerm.

Saam met die Spionage Act van die vorige jaar, is die Sedition Act grotendeels georkestreer deur A. Mitchell Palmer, die Amerikaanse prokureur -generaal onder president Woodrow Wilson. Die Spioenasiewet, wat kort ná die Amerikaanse toetreding tot die oorlog vroeg in April 1917 aangeneem is, het dit vir enige persoon 'n misdaad gemaak om inligting oor te dra wat bedoel was om die Amerikaanse weermag in te meng en die oorlogspoging te vervolg of om die sukses van die oorlog te bevorder vyande van die land.

Die Seditions Act, gemik op sosialiste, pasifiste en ander anti-oorlogsaktiviste, het strawwe strawwe opgelê aan iemand wat skuldig bevind is aan die maak van vals verklarings wat die vervolging van die oorlog belemmer of beledig of die Amerikaanse regering, die vlag, die Grondwet of die militêre agitasie beledig of misbruik. teen die vervaardiging van die nodige oorlogsmateriaal of voorspraak, onderrig of verdediging van enige van hierdie dade. Diegene wat skuldig bevind is aan sulke optrede, lui die daad, word gestraf met 'n boete van nie meer as $ 10 000 of gevangenisstraf van hoogstens twintig jaar, of albei. Dit was dieselfde straf wat in die vroeëre wetgewing opgelê is vir spioenasie.

Alhoewel Wilson en die kongres die oproepswet as van kardinale belang beskou het om die verspreiding van onenigheid in die land in die tyd van oorlog te stuit, beskou moderne regsgeleerdes die daad as in stryd met die letter en gees van die Amerikaanse grondwet, naamlik die eerste wysiging van die Handves van Regte. Een van die beroemdste vervolgings ingevolge die Seditions Act tydens die Eerste Wêreldoorlog was die van Eugene V. Debs, 'n pasifistiese arbeidsorganiseerder en stigter van die Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), wat in 1900 as 'n sosiaal -demokraat as president verkies het. in 1904, 1908 en 1912 op die Socialist Party of America -kaartjie.

Nadat Debs in Junie 1918 in Canton, Ohio, 'n anti-oorlogstoespraak gelewer het, is Debs in hegtenis geneem, verhoor en tot tien jaar gevangenisstraf gevonnis ingevolge die Sedition Act. Debs het appèl aangeteken teen die beslissing, en die saak het uiteindelik by die Amerikaanse hooggeregshof gekom, waar die hof beslis het dat Debs opgetree het met die doel om die oorlogspoging te belemmer en sy skuldigbevinding bekragtig het. In die beslissing het hoofregter Oliver Wendell Holmes verwys na die vroeëre landmerk -saak van Schenck teen die Verenigde State (1919), toe Charles Schenck, ook 'n sosialis, skuldig bevind is kragtens die Spioenasiewet nadat hy 'n strooibiljet versprei het waarin mans wat onlangs opgestel is, versoek word om die Amerikaanse dienspligbeleid teë te staan. In hierdie besluit het Holmes volgehou dat spraak- en persvryheid in sekere gevalle beperk kan word, en dat die vraag in elke geval is of die gebruikte woorde in sulke omstandighede gebruik word en van so 'n aard is dat dit 'n duidelike en huidige gevaar kan veroorsaak dat hulle die wesenlike euwels sal bewerkstellig wat die Kongres die reg het om te voorkom.

Debs ’ -vonnis is in 1921 verander toe die Seditions Act deur die kongres herroep is. Groot dele van die Spioenasiewet bly tot vandag toe deel van die Amerikaanse wetgewing, hoewel die misdaad van oproering grootliks uitgeskakel is deur die beroemde lastersaak Sullivan teen New York Times (1964), wat bepaal het dat die pers se kritiek op openbare amptenare tensy 'n eiser kan bewys dat die stellings kwaadwillig gemaak is of met roekelose minagting van die waarheid en beskermde toespraak was onder die eerste wysiging.


Oortreding van die Wet op vreemdeling en sedisie

Op 4 Julie 1798 het die burgers van die hoofstad Philadelphia in groot getalle opgedaag om die land se onafhanklikheidsdag te vier. Terwyl milisiegeselskappe deur die strate marsjeer, kerkklokke lui en artillerie -eenhede hulde bring, probeer lede van die Amerikaanse senaat 'n debat voer oor 'n kritieke wetsontwerp. Een senator het opgemerk dat die militêre parade so die aandag van die meerderheid getrek het dat 'n groot deel van hulle met hul liggame uit die vensters gestaan ​​het en nie aan die orde gehou kon word nie. Die federalistiese meerderheid het daarin geslaag om 'n onwaarskynlike wetsontwerp te kry, een wat vinnig deur die Huis van Verteenwoordigers goedgekeur is en op 14 Julie deur president John Adams onderteken is.

Ironies genoeg, aangesien senatore die vryheid wat hulle van Brittanje gewen het, gevier het, keur hulle 'n sedisie -wetsontwerp goed wat dit onwettig maak om enige verklarings oor die regering wat vals, skandalig en kwaadwillig was, te publiseer of uit te spreek met die bedoeling om te belaster. 8217 of om die kongres of die president tot minagting of oneer te bring. Jefferson, wat erken het dat hy bang was om te skryf wat ek dink. ’

Ondersteuning vir hierdie beperkende wetgewing het gegroei uit die federalistiese oortuiging dat die jong nasie nog met sy grootste krisis te kampe het, moontlik in die moontlikheid van oorlog met Frankryk en die verspreiding van anti-immigrantgevoel. Die nuwe wet skend die oortuigings van baie Republikeine, wat Federaliste beskou het as reaksionêre verdedigers van voorregte wat die monargie wou terugbring. Federaliste het hul Republikeinse teenoorgesteldes beskou as onverantwoordelike radikale wat gretig was om 'n sosiale revolusie so demokraties aan te wakker as dié wat deur Frankryk geskeur het.

Niks het die federalis van die Republikein meer verdeel as hul reaksie op die Franse rewolusie nie. Republikeine juig die revolusionêre toe en vernietig aristokratiese voorregte, die omverwerping van die monargie en die implementering van die konstitusionele regering. Tog sien federaliste dieselfde dramatiese veranderinge as die ontaarding van die wettige regering in skareheerskappy, veral tydens die bloedige Reign of Terror toe ‘ teenrevolusionêres ’ hul lewens op die guillotine verloor het.

Die federalistiese vrese het toegeneem toe hulle kyk hoe die nuwe Franse republikeinse regering bevrydings- en veroweringsoorloë in België, Switserland, Holland en die Italiaanse skiereiland aanmoedig. Gerugte het in 1798 hoogty gevier oor 'n moontlike Franse inval in Amerika, een wat na bewering ondersteun sou word deur Amerikaanse verraaiers en 'n bevolking van Franse emigrante wat tot meer as 20 000 gegroei het.

Die vinnig groeiende immigrantebevolking van die land het die Federaliste erg ontstel. Een koerant in Pennsylvania het aangevoer dat niemand, maar die mees gemene en waardelose, die land oorstroom. William Shaw, die neef van die president, en beweer dat al ons huidige probleme moontlik herlei kan word tot die hordes van buitelanders in die land, beweer Amerika behoort nie langer asiel te wees nie alle nasies. ’ Federaliste is bekommerd oor die 60 000 Ierse immigrante in die nuwe nasie, waarvan sommige in ballingskap gebring is weens die sameswering teen die Britse bewind. Hulle het saam met Franse immigrante en 'n besprenkeling van Britse radikale soos die liberale teoloog en wetenskaplike Joseph Priestley 'n ernstige uitdaging vir die land gelewer, het hulle aangevoer. Die federaliste het gevrees dat die ekstremistiese idees van die andersdenkendes die armes sou korrupteer en mobiliseer.

Die Britse regering, wat nog meer bang was as die Amerikaners dat idees van die radikale Franse regime sou kon versprei, was al vyf jaar in oorlog met Frankryk en probeer dit onderdruk. Beide lande het neutrale Amerikaanse skepe in beslag geneem wat na hul vyandelike hawens gegaan het. President Adams het 'n tweeledige plan begin om te keer dat die Franse beslag lê op verdere skepe. Hy het drie afgevaardigdes gestuur om met die Franse regering te onderhandel, en hy het gewerk om wetsontwerpe deur die kongres te stoot om die grootte van die vloot en weermag te vergroot. Federalistiese weersin in alles wat met Frankryk verband hou, bereik 'n hoogtepunt in die lente van 1798 toe die berig in Philadelphia aankom dat drie Franse agente, slegs geïdentifiseer as X, Y en Z, omkoopgeld van die Amerikaanse diplomate geëis het voordat hulle met onderhandelinge sou begin.

Beledig deur die Franse regering, oortuig dat oorlog onvermydelik is en angstig is oor 'n gevaarlike vreemdeling in hul midde, was federaliste in Philadelphia gereed om enige gerug te glo. Hulle sien geen rede om aan die waarskuwing te twyfel nie, in 'n brief wat einde April buite die president se woning gevind is. Dit bevat vermoedelik inligting oor 'n komplot van 'n groep Fransmanne om die stad in verskillende dele te vuur en die inwoners te vermoor. wag is by die president se huis aangewys. John Adams het bevel gegee om wapens van die oorlogskantoor af te gee, en hy was vasbeslote om my huis ten koste van my lewe te verdedig.

In so 'n krisisatmosfeer het federaliste aksie geneem om binnelandse ondermyning te voorkom. Hulle ondersteun vier wette wat in Junie en Julie 1798 aangeneem is om die bedreigings wat hulle meen buitelanders vir die veiligheid van die nasie inhou, te beheer en om die opposisieparty te straf vir sy oproerige laster.

Twee van hierdie wette verteenwoordig die federalistiese poging om die bedreigings van die immigrantegroepe van die land aan te spreek. Die Alien Enemies Act het die deportasie van vreemdelinge wat afkomstig was van 'n nasie waarmee die Verenigde State in oorlog was, toegelaat, terwyl die Alien Friends Act die president in vredestyd gemagtig het om enige vreemdeling wat hy as gevaarlik beskou het, te deporteer.

Alhoewel sommige historici erken dat daar wettige kommer oor nasionale veiligheid betrokke was by die verloop van die twee uitheemse dade, kom ander tot die gevolgtrekking dat die twee bykomende wetgewing blatante pogings was om die Republikeinse Party, wat baie immigrante -ondersteuners gekry het, te vernietig.

Die Wet op Naturalisasie het die verblyfvereiste vir burgerskap van vyf na 14 jaar verleng. Vir 'n paar politici, soos kongreslede Robert Goodloe Harper en Harrison Gray Otis, was selfs hierdie daad onvoldoende. Hulle was van mening dat burgerskap beperk moet word tot diegene wat in die Verenigde State gebore is.

Afgesien van die beperkinge in spraak, het die Seditions Act, die laaste van die vier wette, dit onwettig gemaak om onwettig saam te smelt of saam te werk, met die doel om enige maatreël of maatreëls van die regering teen te staan. ’ Terwyl die eerste wysiging van die Amerikaanse Grondwet het vasgestel dat die kongres nie wette kon aanneem nie en die vryheid van spraak, pers of die reg van die mense op vreedsame wyse kon verset, en daar was min bespreking oor die presiese betekenis van die wysiging sedert die aanneming sewe jaar tevore.

In 1798 het baie federaliste daarop gereageer Kommentaar op die wette van Engeland geskryf deur sir William Blackstone – die man wat deur die opstellers van die Grondwet beskou word as die orakel van die gemenereg – vir hul definisie van persvryheid. Blackstone het geskryf, ‘liberte van die pers. . . bestaan ​​daarin dat daar geen vorige beperkings op publikasies is nie. ’ As iemand egter wat onbehoorlik, ondeugend of onwettig is, publiseer, moet hy die gevolge van sy eie tydelikheid neem. Met ander woorde, as iemand praat of opmerkings geskryf het wat as oproerige laster beskou kan word, was hulle nie geregtig op vrye spraakbeskerming nie.

Volgens die federaliste, as oproerige laster enige poging beteken om die regering te kwaad of te verswak, was die Republikeinse pers herhaaldelik skuldig. Republikeinse koerante, beweer die Federaliste, soos die Philadelphia Aurora, die New York Argus, die Richmond Eksaminator, en Boston ’s Onafhanklike kroniek het die mooiste stellings, leuens en wanvoorstellings oor president Adams en die Federalistiese party gedruk.

Die vrou van die president, Abigail, het bitter gekla oor joernalistieke misbruik, bedrog en valsheid. Die kenmerke van haar man in die redakteur Benjamin Bache het veral 'n hekel aan haar gehad. Aurora. In April 1798 noem Bache die president, oud, eienaardig, kaal, blind, kreupel, tandlose Adams. Bache, het sy aangevoer, was 'n ellendige ellende wat aan die mees brutale en beledigende taal gegee is. . Hy het geskryf met die ‘malice ’ van Satan. Die presidentsvrou het herhaaldelik geëis dat iets gedoen moet word om te keer dat hierdie mishandelde en basiese, gewelddadige en verlammende mishandeling teen die regering gelei word. in 'n burgeroorlog gedompel word. ’

Terselfdertyd was federaliste skaars modelle van dekor wanneer hulle Republikeine beskryf. Een teenstander was, het 'n federalis geskryf, demokrate, mobokrate en alle ander soorte rotte. ’ Federalist Noah Webster beskryf Republikeine as die afval, die uitvee van die mees verdorwe deel van die mensdom uit die mees korrupte nasies op aarde . ’

Alhoewel president Adams nie die sedisiewet opgestel het nie, het hy dit ook nie aangemoedig nie. Hy het baie openbare verklarings uitgereik oor die euwels van die opposisiepers. Adams het geglo dat joernaliste wat die nuus doelbewus verdraai het om die mense te mislei, 'n verteenwoordigende demokrasie groot skade kan berokken.

Briewe en opmerkings van John en Abigail Adams het die verloop van 'n sedisie -rekening vergemaklik, maar die taak om dit deur die kongres te stoot, val op senator James Lloyd van Maryland en kongreslede Robert Goodloe Harper en Harrison Gray Otis. Alhoewel die wetsontwerp in die senaat met 'n groot marge geslaag het, het die wetsontwerp skaars goedkeuring gekry in die Huis van Verteenwoordigers, waar die stemming 44 tot 41 was. Om selfs die klein meerderheid te wen, moes Harper en Otis die oorspronklike wetsontwerp op beduidende maniere verander. Aanklaers sou kwaadwillige opset moes bewys, en waarheid sou as verweer toegelaat word. Juries, nie regters nie, sou bepaal of 'n verklaring lasterlik was. Om sy politieke doel te beklemtoon, was die wet om op 3 Maart 1801, die laaste dag van die ampstermyn van president Adams, te verstryk.

Vervolgings het vinnig begin. Op 26 Junie, nog voordat die oproeringswet aanvaar is, het regter Richard Peters, hooggeregshof, 'n lasbrief uitgereik vir die arrestasie van Benjamin Bache. Bache, die magtigste van al die Republikeinse koerantredakteurs, is daarvan beskuldig dat hy die president en die uitvoerende regering lewenslank gepresteer het op 'n manier wat oproering en opposisie teen die wette opgewonde maak. ’ Minder as twee weke later het federale marshals John gearresteer Daly Burk, redakteur van die New York -koerant Tydstuk, vir die maak van 'n opstandige en lasterlike uitspraak teen die president. Nie een van hulle is egter verhoor nie. Bache is tydens die geelkoors -epidemie van September 1798 in Philadelphia oorlede, en Burk, wat nie 'n burger was nie, het ingestem tot die deportasie as die aanklagte verlaag word. Daarna vlug hy na Virginia om onder 'n veronderstelde naam te woon.

Gedurende die volgende twee jaar is 17 mense ingevolge die sedisiewet aangekla, en 10 is skuldig bevind. Die meeste was joernaliste. Onder hulle was William Duane, wat Benjamin Bache opgevolg het as redakteur van die Aurora Thomas Cooper, 'n Britse radikaal wat 'n klein koerant in Pennsylvania, Charles Holt, redakteur van 'n New London, Connecticut, koerant en James Callender, wat aan die Aurora voordat hy na Richmond in Virginia verhuis het Eksaminator. Net soos Benjamin Bache, was Callender verheug om die president te veroordeel.

Die federaliste het nie net joernaliste geteiken nie. Hulle het agter ander persone aan geloop, waaronder David Brown van Dedham, Massachusetts, wat retoriek teen die regering uitgespreek het, oral waar 'n skare vergader het. Brown is in April 1799 gearresteer, daarvan beskuldig dat hy oproerige stukke gesweer het en gehelp het om 'n vryheidspaal op te rig met 'n plakkaat waarop 'n vinnige aftrede vir die president gelees is. Geen sedisierekening, geen rekening vir vreemdelinge, ondergang na die tiranne van Amerika. ’

Ongelooflik, selfs 'n besope Republikein, Luther Baldwin van Newark, New Jersey, het 'n slagoffer geword. Na die uitstel van die kongres in Julie 1798, reis president Adams en sy vrou deur Newark op pad na hul huis in Quincy, Massachusetts. Inwoners het in die strate geloop terwyl kerkklokke lui, en seremoniële kanonvuur het die partytjie begroet. Terwyl die optog verby 'n plaaslike taverne in besit van John Burnet kom, het een van die beskermhere opgemerk: 'Daar gaan die president en hulle skiet op sy a __. ’ Volgens die Newark Centinel of Freedom, Het Baldwin bygevoeg dat, ‘, hy gee nie om as hulle deur sy a __ afgeskiet word nie. Burnet het die uitruil gehoor en uitgeroep: "Dit is oproerig." neig om die president en regering van die Verenigde State te belaster. ’ Hy is 'n boete van $ 150 opgelê, hofkoste en uitgawes beoordeel en tronk toe gestuur totdat hy die boete en gelde betaal het.

Die mees verregaande saak was egter kongreslid Matthew Lyon, 'n Republikein van Vermont. Hierdie vurige Ier was een van die skerpste kritici van president Adams en die federaliste. Hy het selfs 'n bakleiery op die vloer van die huis gehad met die federalis Roger Griswold. Oortuig dat die federaliste van plan was om die sedisiewet te gebruik om hul opposisie in die kongres te stil, het Lyon aan 'n kollega vertrou dat dit waarskynlik die eerste slagoffer van almal sou wees. ’

Lyon was nie die aanvanklike slagoffer nie, maar het vinnig die toorn van die meerderheidsparty gevoel. In die somer van 1798 skryf hy 'n artikel waarin hy kritiseer op president Adams ’ ‘ deurlopende greep op mag en sy ‘ onbegrensde dors na belaglike pomp, dwase bewondering en selfsugtige gierigheid. ’ Tydens sy herverkiesingsveldtog , Het Lyon ook aangehaal uit 'n brief wat voorstel dat die kongres die president na 'n huis moet stuur vir sy hantering van die Franse krisis. In Oktober het 'n federale groot jurie Lyon aangekla omdat hy oproerigheid opgewek het en die president en die regering van die Verenigde State in minagting gebring het. ’

Die regters van die Hooggeregshof in die Verenigde State, wat as rondgaande hofregters sit, was die voorsitter van die sedisieverhore. Hierdie regters, almal federaliste, verwerp die pogings van verweerders en hul advokate om die grondwetlikheid van die wet te betwis. Samuel Chase, wat in drie van die sake was, was duidelik op 'n missie. ‘Daar is niks wat ons meer moet vrees nie, ’ het hy aangevoer, ‘ as die losbandigheid van die pers. ’

Chase en die ander regters het strawwe vonnisse opgelê. Alhoewel niemand die maksimum boete van 'n boete van $ 2,000 of 'n gevangenisstraf van twee jaar opgelê het nie, het hulle die skuldiges dikwels tronk toe gestuur. Die meeste van die veroordeelde het drie- of vier maande tronkstraf opgelê. James Callender dien egter nege maande en David Brown twee keer so lank. Die gemiddelde boetes was ongeveer $ 300, hoewel die boete van Luther Baldwin $ 150 $ en Matthew Lyon $ 1,000 was.

Namate die verhore gevorder het, het twee leiers van die Republikeinse Party, Thomas Jefferson en James Madison, probeer om die sedisiewet om te keer. Die gevolgtrekking dat die Handves van Regte nie magsmisbruik deur die federale regering kon voorkom nie, het die twee mans saamgewerk aan 'n reeks protesbesluite wat beweer dat die regering 'n kompak is wat deur die state geskep is en dat burgers, wat deur hul staatswetgewers gepraat het, die reg om die grondwetlikheid van optrede deur die regering te beoordeel. In hierdie geval het hulle 'n beroep op die state gedoen om saam met hulle te verklaar dat die wette op vreemdelinge en sedisie ongeldig en sonder krag is. ’

Terwyl slegs Kentucky en Virginia die resolusies onderskryf het, het die pogings van Jefferson en Madison Republikeine aangemoedig om die vreemdeling- en sedisie -wette in die veldtog van 1800 tot groot kwessies te maak. Die woede van die kiesers oor hierdie wetsontwerpe, saam met hoër belasting en die stygende federale skuld as gevolg van verhoogde verdedigingsbesteding, het die Republikeine 'n meerderheid in die Huis van Verteenwoordigers gegee. Die federaliste het bykans 40 setels verloor, wat die nuwe kongres met 66 Republikeine en slegs 40 federaliste gelaat het.

Daar was ander onverwagte resultate uit die verloop van die Seditions Act. Dit is duidelik dat federaliste gehoop het om die invloed van die minder as 20 Republikeinse koerante wat in 1798 gepubliseer is, te versmoor. Sommige, soos John Daly Burk ’s Tydstuk, het die publikasie gestaak, terwyl ander die operasie opgeskort het terwyl hul redakteurs in die tronk was. Sirkulasie het egter toegeneem vir die meerderheid van die tydskrifte. Die ontmoedigendste vir die federaliste, veral toe die veldtogte vir die 1800 -verkiesing begin het, was die feit dat meer as 30 nuwe Republikeinse koerante begin werk het ná die verordening van die sedisie.

Selfs die gevangenis het die Republikeinse kongreslid Matthew Lyon nie gestop nie. Die sigbaarste doelwit van die federaliste, Lyon het sy herverkiesingsveldtog vanuit sy gevangenis in Vergennes, Vermont, gevoer. Lyon, wat deur sy ondersteuners as 'n martelaar beskou word, het gereeld deur middel van briewe en koerantberigte tot hierdie beeld bygedra. Dit is nogal 'n nuwe soort jargon om 'n verteenwoordiger van die volk 'n teenstander van die regering te noem, omdat hy as wetgewer nie in elke voorstel wat deur die uitvoerende gesag kom, hom voorstaan ​​en aanvaar nie, en dat hy geskryf het. In 'n verkiesings in Desember het Lyon maklik gewen.

Teen 1802, in die nasleep van die federalistiese verkiesingsnederlaag, het die Wet op Alien Vriende, die Sedition Act en die Naturalisasiewet verstryk of is dit herroep. Die Wet op uitheemse vyande bly van krag, maar niemand is vervolg onder die bepalings daarvan nie, want die Verenigde State het Frankryk nie oorlog verklaar nie, 'n noodsaaklike voorwaarde vir die implementering van die wet. Nadat hy die presidentskap in die 1800 -verkiesing gewen het, vergewe Thomas Jefferson almal wat skuldig bevind is aan die oortreding van die sedisiewet wat in die gevangenis gebly het.

Byna elke maatreël het die federalistiese poging om 'n eenpartypers en 'n eenparty-regering op die jong land op te lê, misluk. Ironies genoeg het die Seditions Act die opposisie aangespoor om sy siening van vrye spraak en persvryheid uit te brei. In 'n reeks opstelle, traktate en boeke het die Republikeine begin argumenteer dat die eerste wysiging burgers beskerm teen enige federale beperking op die pers of toespraak. Opvallend onder hulle was 'n pamflet getiteld 'N Opstel oor die vryheid van die pers, gepubliseer in 1799 deur George Hay, 'n lid van die Virginia House of Delegates. Hay argued ‘that if the words freedom of the press have any meaning at all they mean a total exemption from any law making any publication whatever criminal.’ In his 1801 inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson echoed Hay’s sentiments, stressing the necessity of preserving the right of citizens ‘to think freely and to speak and to write what they think.’

For most, the arguments of Hay and Jefferson have prevailed, although even the Republicans were willing to acknowledge that states could and should impose speech restrictions under certain conditions. Moreover, there have been occasions, most notably during World War I, when the federal government declared that free expression was secondary to military necessity. In an effort to suppress dissent and anti-war activity in 1917, Congress passed the Espionage Act, a law that made it a felony to try to cause insubordination in the armed forces or to convey false statements with intent to interfere with military operations. It was followed by the Sedition Act of 1918, which banned treasonable or seditious material from the mail. Under this provision the mailing of many publications, including the New York Times as well as radical and dissident newspapers, was temporarily halted.

In the 200 years since the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, each generation of Americans has struggled to determine the limits of free speech and freedom of the press. In large part, it has been a dilemma of reconciling freedom and security with liberty and order. For the Federalist Party in 1798, however, the answer was simple order and security had to prevail.

This article was written by Larry Gragg and originally published in the October 1998 issue of American History Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to American History magazine today!


A series of laws known collectively as the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed by the Federalist 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 Alien and Sedition Acts were acts targeted towards the aliens. The Alien Act increased the waiting period to become a U.S. citizen from 5 to 14 years. The Sedition act gave the president the power to arrest disloyal aliens. They were controversial because many people believed that it was unconstitutional.20 កញ្ញា 2017


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The Federalists' fear of the opposing Democratic-Republican Party reached new heights with the Democratic-Republicans' support of France in the midst of the French Revolution. Some appeared to desire a similar revolution in the United States to overthrow the government and social structure. [9] Newspapers sympathizing with each side exacerbated the tensions by accusing the other side's leaders of corruption, incompetence, and treason. [10] As the unrest sweeping Europe threatened to spread to the United States, calls for secession started to rise, and the fledgling nation seemed ready to tear itself apart. [11] Some of this agitation was seen by Federalists as having been caused by French and French-sympathizing immigrants. [11] The Alien Act and the Sedition Act were meant to guard against this perceived threat of anarchy.

The Acts were highly controversial at the time, especially the Sedition Act. The Sedition Act, which was signed into law by Adams on July 14, 1798, [12] was hotly debated in the Federalist-controlled Congress and passed only after multiple amendments softening its terms, such as enabling defendants to argue in their defense that their statements had been true. Still, it passed the House only after three votes and another amendment causing it to automatically expire in March 1801. [10] They continued to be loudly protested and were a major political issue in the election of 1800. Opposition to them resulted in the also-controversial Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, authored by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Prominent prosecutions under the Sedition Act include:

    , a British subject, had been expelled from Great Britain for his political writings. Living first in Philadelphia, then seeking refuge close by in Virginia, he wrote a book titled The Prospect Before Us (read and approved by Vice President Jefferson before publication) in which he called the Adams administration a "continual tempest of malignant passions" and the President a "repulsive pedant, a gross hypocrite and an unprincipled oppressor." Callender, already residing in Virginia and writing for the Richmond Examiner, was indicted in mid-1800 under the Sedition Act and convicted, fined $200, and sentenced to nine months in jail. [13] : 211–20 was a Democratic-Republican congressman from Vermont. He was the first individual to be placed on trial under the Alien and Sedition Acts. [1] He was indicted in 1800 for an essay he had written in the Vermont Journal accusing the administration of "ridiculous pomp, foolish adulation, and selfish avarice." While awaiting trial, Lyon commenced publication of Lyon's Republican Magazine, subtitled "The Scourge of Aristocracy". At trial, he was fined $1,000 and sentenced to four months in jail. After his release, he returned to Congress. [14][13] : 102–08 was editor of the Philadelphia Aurora, a Democratic-Republican newspaper. Bache had accused George Washington of incompetence and financial irregularities, and "the blind, bald, crippled, toothless, querulous Adams" of nepotism and monarchical ambition. He was arrested in 1798 under the Sedition Act, but he died of yellow fever before trial. [13] : 27–29, 65, 96 was an English immigrant and a printer of the Jeffersonian Vermont Gazette. [15] Haswell had reprinted from the Aurora Bache's claim that the federal government employed Tories, also publishing an advertisement from Lyon's sons for a lottery to raise money for his fine that decried Lyon's oppression by jailers exercising "usurped powers". [16] Haswell was found guilty of seditious libel by judge William Paterson, and sentenced to a two-month imprisonment and a $200 fine. [17]
  • Luther Baldwin was indicted, convicted, and fined $100 for a drunken incident that occurred during a visit by President Adams to Newark, New Jersey. Upon hearing a gun report during a parade, he yelled "I hope it hit Adams in the arse." [18][13] : 112–14
  • In November 1798, David Brown led a group in Dedham, Massachusetts, including Benjamin Fairbanks, in setting up a liberty pole with the words, "No Stamp Act, No Sedition Act, No Alien Bills, No Land Tax, downfall to the Tyrants of America peace and retirement to the President Long Live the Vice President." [17][19][20] Brown was arrested in Andover, Massachusetts, but because he could not afford the $4,000 bail, he was taken to Salem for trial. [19] Brown was tried in June 1799. [17] Brown pleaded guilty, but Justice Samuel Chase asked him to name others who had assisted him. [17] Brown refused, was fined $480 (equivalent to $7,300 in 2020), [19][21] and sentenced to eighteen months in prison, the most severe sentence imposed under the Sedition Act. [17][19]

After the passage of the highly unpopular Alien and Sedition Acts, protests occurred across the country, [22] with some of the largest being seen in Kentucky, where the crowds were so large they filled the streets and the entire town square. [23] Noting the outrage among the populace, the Democratic-Republicans made the Alien and Sedition Acts an important issue in the 1800 election campaign. Upon assuming the Presidency, Thomas Jefferson pardoned those still serving sentences under the Sedition Act, [13] : 231 and Congress soon repaid their fines. [24] It has been said that the Alien Acts were aimed at Albert Gallatin, and the Sedition Act aimed at Benjamin Bache's Aurora. [25] [ better source needed ] While government authorities prepared lists of aliens for deportation, many aliens fled the country during the debate over the Alien and Sedition Acts, and Adams never signed a deportation order. [13] : 187–93

The Virginia and Kentucky state legislatures also passed the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, secretly authored by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, denouncing the federal legislation. [26] [27] [28] While the eventual resolutions followed Madison in advocating "interposition", Jefferson's initial draft would have nullified the Acts and even threatened secession. [29] Jefferson's biographer Dumas Malone argued that this might have gotten Jefferson impeached for treason, had his actions become known at the time. [30] In writing the Kentucky Resolutions, Jefferson warned that, "unless arrested at the threshold", the Alien and Sedition Acts would "necessarily drive these states into revolution and blood". [ This quote needs a citation ]

The Alien and Sedition Acts were never appealed to the Supreme Court, whose power of judicial review was not clearly established until Marbury v. Madison in 1803. Subsequent mentions in Supreme Court opinions beginning in the mid-20th century have assumed that the Sedition Act would today be found unconstitutional. [31] [32]

The Alien Enemies Acts remained in effect at the outset of World War I and remains U.S. law today. [8] It was recodified to be part of the US war and national defense statutes (50 USC 21–24). [8]

On December 7, 1941, responding to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the authority of the revised Alien Enemies Act to issue presidential proclamations 2525 (Alien Enemies – Japanese), 2526 (Alien Enemies – German), and 2527 (Alien Enemies – Italian), to apprehend, restrain, secure and remove Japanese, German, and Italian non-citizens. [8] On February 19, 1942, citing authority of the wartime powers of the president and commander in chief, Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, authorizing the Secretary of War to prescribe military areas and giving him authority that superseded the authority of other executives under Proclamations 2525–7. EO 9066 led to the internment of Japanese Americans, whereby over 110,000 people of Japanese ancestry, 62% of whom were United States citizens, not aliens, living on the Pacific coast were forcibly relocated and forced to live in camps in the interior of the country. [33] [34]

Hostilities with Germany and Italy ended in May 1945, and with Japan that August. Alien enemies, and U.S. citizens, continued to be interned. On July 14, 1945, President Harry S. Truman issued Presidential Proclamation 2655, titled "Removal of Alien Enemies". The proclamation gave the Attorney General authority regarding enemy aliens within the continental United States, to decide whether they are "dangerous to the public peace and safety of the United States", to order them removed, and to create regulations governing their removal. The proclamation cited the revised Alien Enemies Act (50 U.S.C. 21–24) as to powers of the President to make public proclamation regarding "subjects of the hostile nation" more than fourteen years old and living inside the United States but not naturalized, to remove them as alien enemies, and to determine the means of removal.

On September 8, 1945, Truman issued Presidential Proclamation 2662, titled "Removal of Alien Enemies". The revised Alien Enemies Act (50 U.S.C. 21–24) was cited as to removal of alien enemies in the interest of the public safety. The United States had agreed, at a conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1942, to assume responsibility for the restraint and repatriation of dangerous alien enemies to be sent to the United States from Latin American republics. In another inter-American conference in Mexico City on March 8, 1945, North and South American governments resolved to recommended adoption of measures to prevent aliens of hostile nations who were deemed to be security threats or threats to welfare from remaining in North or South America. Truman gave authority to the Secretary of State to determine if alien enemies in the United States who were sent to the United States from Latin America, or who were in the United States illegally, endangered the welfare or security of the country. The Secretary of State was given power to remove them "to destinations outside the limits of the Western Hemisphere", to the former enemy territory of the governments to whose "principles of which (the alien enemies) have adhered". The Department of Justice was directed to assist the Secretary of State in their prompt removal.

On April 10, 1946, Truman issued Presidential Proclamation 2685, titled "Removal of Alien Enemies", citing the revised Alien Enemies Act (50 U.S.C. 21–24) as to its provision for the "removal from the United States of alien enemies in the interest of the public safety". Truman proclaimed regulations that were in addition to and supplemented other "regulations affecting the restraint and removal of alien enemies". As to alien enemies who had been brought into the continental United States from Latin America after December 1941, the proclamation gave the Secretary of State authority to decide if their presence was "prejudicial to the future security or welfare of the Americas", and to make regulations for their removal. 30 days was set as the reasonable time for them to "effect the recovery, disposal, and removal of (their) goods and effects, and for (their) departure".

In 1947 New York's Ellis Island continued to incarcerate hundreds of ethnic Germans. Fort Lincoln was a large internment camp still holding internees in North Dakota. North Dakota was represented by controversial Senator William "Wild Bill" Langer. Langer introduced a bill (S. 1749) "for the relief of all persons detained as enemy aliens", and directing the U.S. Attorney General to cancel "outstanding warrants of arrest, removal, or deportation" for many German aliens still interned, listing many by name, and all of those detained by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which was under the Department of Justice. It directed the INS not to issue any more warrants or orders, if their only basis was the original warrants of arrest. The bill never passed. The Attorney General gave up plenary jurisdiction over the last internee on Ellis Island late in 1948.

In Ludecke v. Watkins (1948), the Supreme Court interpreted the time of release under the Alien Enemies Act. German alien Kurt G. W. Ludecke was detained in 1941, under Proclamation 2526. and continued to be held after cessation of hostilities. In 1947, Ludecke petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus to order his release, after the Attorney General ordered him deported. The court ruled 5–4 to release Ludecke, but also found that the Alien Enemies Act allowed for detainment beyond the time hostilities ceased, until an actual treaty was signed with the hostile nation or government.


The resolutions argued that the federal government had no authority to exercise power not specifically delegated to it in the Constitution. The Kentucky Resolutions, authored by Jefferson, went further than Madison’s Virginia Resolution and asserted that states had the power to nullify unconstitutional federal laws.

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were political statements drafted in 1798 and 1799 in which the Kentucky and Virginia legislatures took the position that the federal Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional.


Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798

Congress enacted deportation laws targeting persons deemed political threats to the United States in response to conflicts in Europe.

Resources

Discussion Questions

What groups were potentially targeted for deportation under the Alien and Sedition Acts?

How might supporters of these laws have justified their provisions?

What might some of the potential long-term implication be of the law targeting “Alien Enemies”?

Opsomming

In response to fears of war with France, President John Adams and Congress pushed through four laws– known as the Alien and Sedition Acts– that limited the freedom of speech and of the press and represented some of the first federal deportation laws. The Alien and Sedition Acts authorized the detention or deportation of persons seen as posing political threats to the United States and those who emigrated from “hostile” nations and imposed more demanding requirements for naturalization. While the Sedition Act led to the prosecution and conviction of several newspaper owners, the deportation laws were generally not actively enforced at the time. The Adams administration also faced widespread criticism for these harsh laws. Nevertheless, the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, which authorized the President to detain, relocate, or deport immigrants from hostile countries in a time of war, is still in force in modified form.

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An Act Concerning Aliens.

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States at any time during the continuance of this act, to order all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, or shall have reasonable grounds to suspect are concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the government thereof, to depart out of the territory of the United States . . . And in case any alien, so ordered to depart, shall be found at large within the United States after the time limited in such order for his departure, and not having obtained a license from the President to reside therein, or having obtained such license shall not have conformed thereto, every such alien shall, on conviction thereof, be imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years, and shall never after be admitted to become a citizen of the United States.

An Act Respecting Alien Enemies

SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That whenever there shall be a declared war between the United States and any foreign nation or government, or any invasion or predatory incursion shall be perpetrated, attempted, or threatened against the territory of the United States, by any foreign nation or government, and the President of the United States shall make public proclamation of the event, all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects of the hostile nation or government, being males of the age of fourteen years and upwards, who shall be within the United States, and not actually naturalized, shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies.


The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Interview with Terri Halperin

The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 were four laws that were passed by the predominantly Federalist Congress and signed by John Adams to strengthen the national security of the United States. These acts not only restricted the ability of an immigrant to become a citizen, but made it easier to deport non-citizens who were either deemed dangerous or were citizens of hostile countries. Perhaps the most contentious aspect of the new laws criminalized the printing or speaking allegedly false statements about the federal government. Not surprisingly, these laws were incredibly controversial and strongly opposed by Thomas Jefferson's opposition Democratic-Republican party.

Terri Halperin's new book The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 published by Johns Hopkins University Press lays bear the deep divisions in the United States that potentially threatened the survival of the young nation. She examines the passage and strident debate that around these laws along with their problematic an uneven enforcement. Her book is excellent introduction to both the immigration laws of the new country and its interpretation of freedom of speech.

Terri Halperin is a member of the University of Richmond History Department and an adjunct professor of the James Madison Memorial Foundation Summer Institute. She is an United States historian and her focus is on the Early Republic.

Here is our interview with Terri Halperin.

How did you become interested in the Early Republic?

After college, I worked as a legislative aide for a congressman. Part of my job was to help him with his whip duties by taking an initial poll of members. Having this small role in the leadership made me think about how Congress worked at its beginnings. My dissertation was a history of the United States Senate from 1789 to 1821.

Why did you want to write about the Alien and Sedition acts?

I have been teaching a class exploring the issues of debate and dissent in America from Colonial times through the Civil War for several years. The Alien and Sedition Acts are a major focus. I have been thinking about these issues for a while and was excited by the opportunity to write about them.

The XYZ Affair was the trigger for the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Why had the relationship between the French government and the United States soured? What was the XYZ affair?

The Franco-American relationship soured in 1795 when the United States signed the Jay Treaty with Great Britain. France believed that the Jay Treaty violated its own treaties with America signed in 1778 during the American Revolution. In the summer of 1796, the French government issued a secret decree authorizing the capture of neutral ships. These actions set off the Quasi-War between the United States and France. President Adams sent envoys to France to try to resolve the conflict. The French demanded bribes and other payments before they would negotiate with the Americans. The Americans refused and in their dispatches back to the American government, they identified the representatives of the French government as X, Y, and Z. Thus the incident was called the XYZ Affair. After the diplomatic mission failed, the Federalist-controlled government moved to shore up the country’s defenses. Federalists saw the Alien and Sedition Acts as defense measures.

Did the outbreak of violence and protests after the XYZ affair threaten the survival of the republic? How serious a threat did they truly represent?

It depends on your perspective. Federalists certainly believed that the republic was under threat, both from citizens and foreigners who were bringing radical ideas from Europe to the United States. Democratic-Republicans did not believe the same level of danger existed. They saw the danger coming from the Federalists who controlled the government and threatened people’s rights. It is hard from our perspective to gauge how serious the threat really was considering we know how it turned it out and that the republic survived the 1790s. I do think that we have to take the Federalists concerns as sincere to understand why they acted as they did and not simply dismiss them as paranoid.

I remember I was stunned when I first learned that John Adams had advocated the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. How did Adams justify the passage of the laws? Did he understand that they undermined the principles set down in the Bill of Rights?

I think that Adams’s role and his views are more ambiguous. For passage of the laws, I focused on the debate in the House of Representatives. For me the more interesting story involved arguments for and against the bills and how the bills evolved during the debate. As was typical of that time, Adams did not involve himself in congressional debates. While Adams supported the laws when passed, his enthusiasm waned when it came to enforcement. By the end of his presidency, he was at odds with many members of his party who remained staunch believers in the laws.

The interpretation of the First Amendment has changed over time. Was there more than one interpretation of the freedom of speech at the time? How did Americans react to the Alien and Sedition acts?

When the Bill of Rights was ratified, I do not think anyone really knew what its scope or impact would be. The Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government and not to the states. Many states had sedition laws, even states whose declarations of rights protected speech and the press. There was no consensus about what freedom of speech meant. That was part of what was debated in 1789-1800 and after. Although all agreed the government could not control speech before the fact (for example, require printers to get a license), they did not agree what could happen after the fact. Federalists argued that printers and others should be held responsible for what they said or wrote and could be prosecuted. For many, the constant agitation against their policies undermined the legitimacy of the whole government and thus threatened to destabilize the United States. They did not believe that the Sedition Act violated the First Amendment. Democratic-Republicans embraced a more modern definition of the First Amendment.

Americans reacted in different ways to the laws. Certainly, many backed the laws others exercised caution about what they said and wrote. Some people resorted to violence against printers in support of the Federalist government and the Sedition law others used violence to oppose the laws. Some Americans wrote newspaper pieces and pamphlets, organized and attended public meetings, and wrote and signed petitions. Many people were actively involved in the debate about whether the Sedition Act in particular was a good law.

Who was prosecuted under the Alien and Sedition acts? Were these trials seen as legitimate?

Between 1797 and 1801, there were 17 indictments for seditious speech by the federal government: 14 under the Sedition Act and 3 under common law, which had been initiated before the Sedition law was passed. Twelve of the people indicted for sedition were printers or somehow connected to that business. Adams’s administration specifically targeted the major Democratic-Republican newspapers and successfully brought indictments against four of the five of them. Most of the trials occurred in the spring or even fall of 1800, in the midst of the presidential campaign, which certainly added to the tensions and the drama. Even though the outcomes of the trials were pretty much foregone conclusions, the proceedings were legitimate and accepted in the legal arena even if not in the political. I think you have to recognize that the Judiciary cannot be completely separate from the political and that judges play a political role. This certainly was the case in these sedition trials.

What surprised you the most when you were researching this project?

I was surprised by how much the debates of 1798-1800 resonated today, especially with regard to immigrants and the role of the press. Just as politicians today grumble about misrepresentations of their views and events in the press, congressmen and others made the same complaints in the 1798. Although there was no such thing as illegal immigration during the 18th century, Federalists urged that naturalization rules be tightened to discourage immigration. They believed the recent immigrants would politically destabilize the country. On the other hand, Democratic-Republicans believed that immigrants' knowledge and skills would contribute to America’s prosperity and wanted more liberal policies. The late 17900s debate had similar fault lines as today.

Did the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts and the outcry change the understanding of the Bill of Rights? Did this incident strengthen the First Amendment?

The legacy of the Alien and Sedition Acts is ambiguous. The Federalists’ defeat in the Election of 1800 in many ways was the beginning of the end of the Federalists as a national party. However, the debate did not stop states from enacting sedition laws or prosecuting people for sedition. The federal government passed sedition laws and anti-immigrant laws during World Wars I and II. In fact, the Alien Enemies Act, which passed in 1798 and never expired, was used during War World II to force Germans, Italians, and Japanese to register with the federal government. The Alien and Sedition Acts controversy was the first time there was a national debate about these issues. These issues would be debated many more times –some are still being debated today.

How would you recommend using your book for a US history class?

While its focus is on the period of 1798 to 1800, I do discuss most of the 1790s. So, a teacher could use it in an American History survey class or a class on the Early American Republic. It could also be used in a legal or constitutional history class.


The Alien and Sedition Acts and 19th Century Developments

The founders, contrary to some of their own expectations, soon divided into rival political parties under the new governing system. It is one of the great historical ironies that many who had helped to ratify the powerful language of the First Amendment ignored its principles in seeking to silence political speakers with whom they disagreed.

Few milestones were more important in this development than the Federalists&rsquo adoption of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 during the United States&rsquo undeclared war with France: The Alien Act made it more difficult for immigrants to become citizens, and the Sedition Act made it a crime to criticize the president or the government of the United States. Although the Supreme Court did not have occasion to rule on the constitutionality of these laws at the time they were adopted, scholarly consensus today recognizes the Sedition Act as a betrayal of revolutionary ideals and First Amendment freedoms. As Justice William J. Brennan Jr. wrote years later in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964), &ldquoAlthough the Sedition Act was never tested in this Court, the attack upon its validity has carried the day in the court of history.&rdquo The law provided fodder for a host of speeches and publications that pushed interpretations of the First Amendment in an increasingly libertarian direction. As Brennan noted, the Sedition Act &ldquofirst crystallized a national awareness of the central meaning of the First Amendment.&rdquo

Jefferson and Madison may have unwisely sown the seeds for future disunion when they argued in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 for state &ldquointerposition&rdquo against federal legislation that interfered with First Amendment rights, but they were on target in questioning the source from which Congress derived authority for such legislation. Madison elaborated further on these arguments in his Report of 1800, in which he argued that a law that would permit congressional regulation of speech and press might also be interpreted to deny religious freedom. The so-called Revolution of 1800 was not achieved through physical force but through the ballot box. When elected president, Jefferson pardoned individuals who had been convicted under the Sedition Act, and despite some arrests during the Civil War, the national slate remained relatively free of such legislation until World War I again stirred sentiments against possible espionage and sedition.

Although the Bill of Rights did not provide normative law for the states, it set a standard that increasing numbers of states would emulate over time. In 1833 Massachusetts became the last state to abolish state support for an established church. At about the same time, however, Alexis de Tocqueville observed that public opinion in the United States was so powerful that it sometimes enforced a &ldquotyranny of the majority.&rdquo This was especially evident in the incorporation of religious teaching within the increasingly universalized public education systems that states provided. While southern European and Roman Catholic immigrants well recognized that public schools reflected the dominant Protestant Weltanschauung, those in the majority seemed almost oblivious to their own presuppositions. In Boston, a judge ruled in Commonwealth v. Cooke (1859) that a schoolteacher was justified in beating a Roman Catholic student who had refused to recite the Lord&rsquos Prayer and the Ten Commandments from the King James Version of the Bible. Much like fundamentalist Protestants would do in the 20th century, Roman Catholics often withdrew their children from public schools and established their own institutions of learning.

On another front, however, religion flourished without state sponsorship, providing much of the moral impetus for the anti-slavery movement and later for a national prohibition of alcohol and for woman&rsquos suffrage. The nation&rsquos diversity increased as more immigrants arrived and spawned a number of homegrown religions. Among them were the Latter-day Saints, whose beliefs forced courts to re-examine the lines between religious belief, advocacy, and practice.