Alien and Sedition Acts
Signed into law by President John Adams in 1798, the Alien
and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws passed by the Federalist-controlled
Congress as America prepared for war with France. These acts
increased the residency requirement for American citizenship
from five to fourteen years, authorized the president to
imprison or deport aliens considered "dangerous to the
peace and safety of the United States" and restricted
speech critical of the government. These laws were designed
to silence and weaken the Democratic-Republican Party. Negative
reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts helped contribute
to the Democratic-Republican victory in the 1800 elections.
Congress repealed the Naturalization Act in 1802, while the
other acts were allowed to expire.
Congress Web Site | External Web
Sites | Selected
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
The full-text of the Alien and Sedition Acts can be found
in the United
States Statutes at Large:
Debates contains a section on the response to the
Alien and Sedition Acts, including the text of the Virginia
Resolution, responses to the Virginia Resolution from
other states, the Kentucky Resolution, and James Madison's
report on the Virginia Resolution.
this collection on the words "alien sedition"
for additional Congressional information on the Alien
and Sedition Acts, including debate in the Annals
American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and
Other Printed Ephemera
Contains a copy of a petition
submitted to Congress in 1798 objecting to the Alien
and Sedition Acts.
Search this collection to locate additional broadsides and printed
ephemera related to this topic.
First American West: The Ohio River Valley, 1750-1820
Representative John Breckinridge introduced the Kentucky
Resolution to the Kentucky Legislature in response
to the Alien and Sedition Acts.
James Madison Papers
On May 20, 1798, James
Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson that the "Alien
bill proposed in the Senate is a monster that must forever
disgrace its parents."
Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Library of Congress
Kentucky Resolution was secretly authored by Thomas
Jefferson in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Along with the Virginia Resolution, which was written
by James Madison, the Kentucky Resolution argued that
state legislatures had the right to nullify Federal statutes.
The text in the first column is from the rough draft,
and that in the second from a fair copy. The facsimile
is the text actually adopted by the Kentucky legislature
and sent to the other state legislatures.
Jefferson's Papers for additional documents related
to the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Creating the United States
This online exhibition offers insights into how the nation’s founding documents were forged and the role that imagination and vision played in the unprecedented creative act of forming a self–governing country.
Alien and Sedition Acts, Avalon Project at Yale Law
with Documents: United States v. Thomas Cooper - A Violation
of the Sedition Law, National Archives and Records Administration
Documents, Alien and Sedition Acts, National Archives
and Records Administration
of Congress - The Formation of Political Parties: The Alien
and Sedition Acts, National Archives and Records Administration
Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. The
Age of Federalism.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. [Catalog
Miller, John Chester. Crisis in Freedom:
The Alien and Sedition Acts. Boston: Little Brown,
Smith, James Morton. Freedom's Fetters:
The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1956. [Catalog
Watkins, William J., Jr. Reclaiming
the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
and Their Legacy.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. [Catalog