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The Alien and Sedition Acts

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• John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
George Washington
The Constitution
Federalist Party
Democratic-Republican Party
Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions


Definition: Four laws of Congress that restricted the rights of groups of people. The Naturalization Act increased from 5 to 14 the number of years a non-American had to be living in America before he or she could become an American citizen. The Alien Act allowed the President to force non-Americans he thought dangerous to leave the country. The Alien Deportation Act allowed for the arrest and deportation of any non-American during wartime. The Sedition Act made it a crime to do "any false, scandalous and malicious writing." This resulted in the jailing of 25 newspaper editors, most of them Democratic-Republicans. This was during the presidency of John Adams, a Federalist. The response to these acts was marked. Kentucky and Virginia passed resolutions opposing these acts.

Related Resources:
The New Nation
Find out more about the period between the signing of the Constitution and the year 1800.

Elsewhere on the Web:
The Alien and Sedition Acts
Brief discussion and full text of all the Acts.

Primary Version
Text of the Acts and a brief discussion, all easier to understand.

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