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The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798

Uploaded by Brittany on Oct 09, 2001

The debate of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 revealed bitter controversies on a number of issues. Most of the controversies had, however, arose even before these acts; as far back as the penning of the Constitution. The writers of the Constitution knew that as time proceeded, the needs and demands of the nation and of the people would change, leading to controversy. By not assigning specific powers to specific groups/parties, governments, they unintentionally created a vast problem in the years to come.

Subsequently following the ratification of the constitution, two leading groups formed; the Federalists and the Antifederalists, each believing in exact opposite interpretations of the Constitution. The Federalist Party was headed by the newly appointed Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who thought the interpretation of the Constitution should be very loose. Hamilton believed the Constitution encompassed powers other than those authorized or enumerated. These hidden powers, claimed Hamilton, were implied powers. Hamilton stated it would be essential that the federal government should gain control over any later added account to the nation. Significantly, Hamilton aspired to put these implied powers to use in requisition to build a powerful and domineering central government.

In opposition to Hamilton?s Federalist Party, Jefferson who believed in strict interpretation of the Constitution. Jefferson anticipated that everything should be done through strict evaluation and a laws should abide by what is written. Although Jefferson was not a Federalist, he was also not an Antifederalist; he was a Democratic-Republican, a composite of the two. Jefferson vindicated that all powers not enumerated by the Constitution are obtained by the States. Issues between the two groups lead to the imperative question: should a strong central government be established or should each individual state have control? The attacks of the succeeding debate and public scurrility led to the Sedition Act. This act prohibited intermingling and conspiracy against the America government and the correspondence of scandalous and malicious writings against the government or its officials, under penalty of a fine or imprisonment. Succeeding the Sedition Act, the Republicans turned to the states arguing that federal government had strode past their powers; the powers delegated to it by the states through the Constitution. Therefore the states acquired the right to repeal the act.

Another issue was what to do about the problem of immigration that rapidly increased after the Revolution. President Washington at the time had addressed this issue, but nine...

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Uploaded by:   Brittany

Date:   10/09/2001

Category:   American History

Length:   3 pages (741 words)

Views:   1511

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