Legislation and Persecution

  • William J. WatkinsJr.

Abstract

The crisis of the Alien and Sedition Acts capped off the turmoil of the 1790s. Crafted in the summer of 1798, the Acts were the most illiberal legislation passed during the early national period. Ostensibly aimed at securing the home front as the Federalists braced for French invasion, the Acts served the much broader purpose of Federalist political hegemony. Through this legislation, the Federalists sought to restrain democratic-minded foreigners and silence all criticism of the national government. Procrustean conformity became the cardinal principle of Federalist politics.

Keywords

Migration Europe Assure Expense Dine 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    For a comparison of the British and American laws, see Manning J. Dauer, The Adams Federalists (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1953) pp. 157–9.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See 1 Stat. 566 (1798). The Naturalization Act as well as the other three Acts discussed in this chapter are reprinted in full in James Morton Smith, Freedoms Fetters: The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties (New York: Cornell University Press, 1956) pp. 435–42.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    This reaction to the sudden rise in immigration supports the conclusion that the American tradition has not been immigration, but intermittent immigration. See Peter Brimelow, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster (New York: Random House, 1995) pp. 30–1.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    TJ to JM, April 26, 1798, WTJ 8:412. Though much of this book focuses on the efforts of Jefferson and Madison, “the survival of Republicanism at the seat of government” was in large part due to the efforts of Gallatin in the House of Representatives. See Dumas Malone, Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty (Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown and Company, 1962) p. 359.Google Scholar
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© The Independent Institute 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. WatkinsJr.

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