Download Alien and Sedition Acts (1798)

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What Is the Proper Balance Between National Security and Individual
Background: Under the threat of war with France in the late 1790s, the U.S. Congress
passed a series of laws in 1798 to strengthen the Federal government. President John
Adams signed the bill into law. These laws were known as the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Some in the government believed that the federal government had to be stronger to face
the challenges the country faced. Although some supported these laws, others opposed
them, including Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson believed these acts violated, or went
against, what the Constitution stated.
Meaning of the Alien and Sedition Act
An Act Concerning Aliens.-June 25, 1798.
Bill of Rights, Sixth Amendment
It is lawful for the President of the
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused
United States to order all enemy aliens
shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public
(Immigrants) he judges dangerous to the peace trial, by an impartial jury of the State…..
and safety of the United States, or shall have
strong reasons to suspect are plotting against
the government, to leave the United States
Can we deny people right to a fair trial in
order to protect the nation?
An Act Respecting Alien Enemies-July 6,
Bill of Rights, Fifth Amendment
No person shall be held to answer for any
Whenever there shall be a declared war capital, or otherwise infamous crime,
between the United States and any foreign
unless on a presentment or indictment of a
nation, all natives, citizens, or subjects of the
Grand Jury.
enemy nation who are males of the age of
fourteen and upwards within the United States
and not actually citizens, shall be likely to be
arrested, restrained, secured and removed, as
An Act for the Punishment of Certain
Crimes Against the United States-July 14,
If any person writes, prints, states or
publishes any false, mean, or nasty writing
against the government of the United States, or
either house of the Congress of the United
States, or the President of the United States,
they shall be punished by a fine not exceeding
two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not
exceeding two years.
Can we arrest people and deny them a fair
trial in order to protect the nation ?
Bill of Rights, First Amendment
Congress shall make no law…. abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press.
Can we ban free speech in order to protect
the nation?
Article I of the U.S. Constitution-powers of the U.S. Congress:
“(The U.S. Congress shall have the power) to make all laws which shall be
necessary and proper for carrying into effect the protection of our nation…”
Virginia and Kentucky Resolution:
“The General Assembly of Virginia…..does declare that it views the powers
of the federal government, from the Constitution, as limited…..and that in
case of a dangerous use of other powers, the states have the right and a duty
to step in. They have the right to protest against the alarming violation of
the Constitution, in the cases of the ‘Alien and Sedition Acts,’ the first of
which exercises a power no where delegated to the federal government. The
other of which gives a power not delegated by the constitution, but on the
contrary, forbidden by one of the amendments: a power against that right of
free communication among the people.”
Joseph Hopkinson:
“I will say that the greatest evils this country has ever endured have arisen
from the ready admission to foreigners to a participation in the government
and internal arrangements of the country.”
Article I of the Constitution
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions
Joseph Hopkinson
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