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What Were They Thinking?: The Alien and Sedition Acts By Ellie DePastino
Objective You will be able to describe the Alien and Sedition acts and the controversy surrounding them. You will also decide if they were fair and be able to support your decision.
Background Information The XYZ affair caused a war fever in the United States. The gap between the Federalists and Republicans widened because of the war fever. Federalists became afraid of revolutionary France. This lead to a fear of dangerous immigrants.
Alien Act There were actually three separate laws in the Alien Act: Naturalization Act Alien Act Alien Enemies Act Increased the amount of time a person must live in the U.S. to become a citizen from 5 to 14 years. Gave the president the right to expel any alien that may be dangerous to the United States’ peace and safety Gave the president the right to expel any alien that may be dangerous during wartime.
Alien Act (cont.) The Alien Act was never strongly enforced. Caused many French immigrants to leave the United States.
Sedition Act Made it a crime to say anything critical or false about the government and its officials. “Any false, scandalous and malicious writing," about the government could result in fines or imprisonment. Twenty-five men, mostly Republican newspaper editors, were arrested under this law. Benjamin Franklin’s grandson was arrested under this law.
Were the Alien and Sedition Acts Fair? Many Americans responded negatively to the new laws. Republicans thought they were overall unconstitutional. YOU DECIDE!
Alien and Sedition Acts: RESOLVED! In 1798, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were passed. Let states declare if a law was unconstitutional.
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