Alien And Sedition Acts Essay, Research Paper
As far as a new nation is concerned, everything is a factor in developing the personality and character of its politics. Whether negative or positive events occur does not matter, for in the capricious nature of the new nation any event is a big event for the people taking charge for the first time. These affairs can be grouped into two loose categories: domestic and foreign. Both of these played a significant role in the shaping of American politics. However, because it was occurring within the country and could not be ignored, domestic affairs were the greater of the two sculptors. Three such events that helped to shape American politics towards the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century were Shay?s Rebellion, the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase.
Shay?s Rebellion was an event that showed how weak the central government was and how little the people cared for the policies that governed them. To raise money to pay off debts from the Revolution, states had to collect taxes from their citizens. Farmers, especially those in Massachusetts, were outraged by this decree. They took measures into their own hands, forming groups to overthrow courts and protesting the government. George Washington feared for the security of the new nation and sent troops to deal with Shay?s men. When the rebels were caught after trying to take an arsenal, it was clear that the Articles of Confederation were unclear as to how these men should be handled. The different parties saw the issues in different light, with everything from trail by jury to hanging to a general pardon favored. The central government was unable to help, the compromise that was a basis of American politics was of no use. Something needed to change, so the policies were redrafted under the new name of the Constitution. Thus Shay?s Rebellion led to a change in politics.
The Alien and Sedition Acts were yet another event that molded American politics. Under the Acts, power was given to the Federal government to control immigration and free speech. The Republicans were outraged with these Acts because it gave the Federal government too much power. The Federalists saw the Acts as a way of keeping peace in a nation that must be ready for war. The separations between the two parties were already severe, with brawls in the streets and mean-spirited writings floating around. The Acts gave another distinction between the groups. The Acts were not favored by most of the people and therefore they supported the efforts to get rid of them by supporting the Republicans. By the time the Acts came to an end the Federalist Party had lost support from the public. The loss was so severe that the party faded away, changing the parties and the ways politics were viewed. These Acts played a huge part in the formation of the United States by changing the set political parties.
The Samuel Chase trial set the precedent in American politics for impeachment issues in the Supreme Court. Chase was a very vocal Federalist who upheld the Sedition Act very strongly. Since Supreme Court judges served for life, the only way for the Republicans to get their own into the court was to impeach the Federalist judges and replace them with their own. Once the Act was ended, he was the Republicans? target for impeachment because of his support for the Act and a Republican could fill the spot. The cycle could continue until the Republicans had impeached all Federal Justices, and they could fill the Supreme Court with all Republican Justices. This would give the Republicans ultimate power in the government and put their initiatives at the top of the priorities. Since Chase was not found guilty, this chain of events never occurred, setting a higher precedent for impeachment violations. Politics was given a new set of standards because of this event.
Shay?s Rebellion, the Alien and Sedition Acts, and the trial of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase were all domestic affairs that shaped American politics. Although international affairs also effected the budding nation, domestic affairs were the true test of the nation?s ability to handle problems for themselves for the first time. No longer were decisions made by a country an ocean away but by a people united, and sometimes separated, by their ideals for the new country. Only then was America capable of being a truly independent nation, one that could govern their own people and take part in world issues. The political changes that came out of these events were necessary to test and see if the government could stand the test of time and change. Only a few centuries have passed since those changes were made. In the test of time it is too soon to tell if the personality and character changes of the government were developed for the best.