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Published byLily Cain Modified over 7 years ago
The Presidency of John Adams
Election of 1796 John Adams (Federalist Party) won 71 electoral votes for President. Thomas Jefferson (Democratic-Republican) won 68 electoral votes for President. According to the Constitution at that time, whoever received the most electoral votes became President and whoever came in 2 nd became Vice President. This was unusual because they were from 2 different political parties.
Abigail Adams Had strong opinions about government and politics because she was an avid reader. Advised her husband to “Remember the Ladies” in the new form of government that was being formed. John and Abigail Adams were the first President and First Lady to live in the White House
XYZ Affair The French regarded Jay’s Treaty as an American attempt to help the British in their war with France. To punish the US, France began to seize American ships. President Adams sent Pinckney, Gerry, and Marshall to France to negotiate a treaty to stop France from attacking American ships.
The Insult The 3 Americans were to speak to the French foreign minister Charles de Talleyrand. However, they were kept waiting in Paris for weeks. Then they were approached by 3 of Talleyrand’s agents, later referred to as X, Y, and Z. They told them that Talleyrand would speak to them if the U.S. would “lend” France $12 million and pay Talleyrand a bribe of $250 thousand. Pinckney answered, “No, no, not a sixpence!” What do you think he meant by that? They would not get a penny from the US!
The Reaction The 3 Americans told Pres. Adams who then told Congress about the “XYZ Affair.” “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute!” was a popular slogan that rang out around the country. What do you think that means? We will put our money in defending our nation not paying bribes!
Americans Fight Back Congress cancelled the treaties between the U.S. and France. It also began to recruit an army and prepare for war. Fighting broke out at sea. The 22 ships of the American navy attacked and sank 84 French ships in a period of 3 years.
War Protests Democratic-Republicans opposed the new taxes, the expanded army & navy, and the fighting against France. They accused President Adams as being “the blasted tyrant of America.” Federalists called Democratic-Republicans “democrats, mobocrats, and all other kinds of rats.”
Adams Fights Back Pres. Adams blamed the Democratic- Republican newspapers and the thousands of new immigrants. Most of the new immigrants were joining the Democratic-Republican party. These aliens, or foreigners had to wait 5 years before they could become citizens. When they became citizens, the aliens would be able to vote. Federalists feared that these new citizens would vote the Federalists out of office.
The Alien Acts The Federalist Congress passed laws stating that immigrants would have to wait 14 years before becoming citizens. In this way, Congress hoped to keep Federalists in power. The fewer immigrants who could become citizens, the fewer votes the Democratic-Republicans were likely to get in the next election.
The Sedition Acts These acts outlawed sedition, which they defined as false or critical speech about the government. Federalists used this law to silence their critics by arresting about 25 Democratic-Republican newspaper editors and sending 10 to jail. One Congressman was locked up for criticizing the President. Which basic rights were being violated by these laws? 1 st amendment rights – freedom of speech and press
Republicans’ Response Believed that liberty itself was at stake. Jefferson and James Madison used a theory known as “states’ rights” to challenge the new laws. The theory of states’ rights claims that states had the right to judge whether a law passed by Congress was constitutional. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions declared that the Alien and Sedition Acts had no legal force because they violated the Bill of Rights. They were written by Jefferson and Madison.
Peace With France The Federalists continued to call for war against France. Then in 1799 the French, now led by Napoleon Bonaparte, stopped attacking American ships and declared that American representatives would be welcome in France. In the Convention of 1800, the 2 countries signed an agreement to stop all naval attacks. Adams broke with the Federalists Pres. Adams was proud of saving the country from unnecessary bloodshed.
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