Issues Of Sedition Essay, Research Paper
“The debate over the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 revealed bitter controversies on a number of issues.” Immigration was a major issue of debate in congress over the Alien Acts. The Nation was afraid of losing its culture to the pouring in of thousands of other nations. With the overwhelming number of immigrants many officials felt official action needed to be taken. The war between France and England created controversy because parties from the same nation sided with different countries. Nationalism was one thing that the United States had a great lack of and for the two major political parties of America to not side together tore our nation apart. Partisanship was heavily argued over in every issue and separately. The Democratic and Federalist Factions were both responsible for the Alien and Sedition Acts, neither side would ever back down no matter what was best for the country. The insecurity of the two political parties was a large result in the destructive force of the two factions. If the two parties were more focused on the nation than on each other the sedition acts would not have had to have been prescribed to control the disenfranchised. The Alien acts were an important factor in judging the true character of the Federalist Party. It was effortless to see what was important to the Federalist Party because they acted in their best interests instead of the countries.
Immigration was a primary component in the war between Federalists and Democrats.
The Alien Laws themselves required a fourteen-year period for aliens prior to naturalization as a citizen, gave the President power to deport “all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States” and allowed the restraint and removal in time of war of resident adult aliens of the hostile nation. The 1798 Acts passed by Congress were simply weapons of the Federalist Party. The true purpose of the Alien Sedition Acts was to secure the power of the Democratic opposition by controlling population growth of the Anti-Federalist Union (doc P). The Federalist Party had realized most immigrants were Jefferson supporters and wished to disenfranchise these new members of the Democratic Party. The Alien Laws took pro-Jeffersonian immigrants from the already minute Jeffersonians (the American Pageant). The Acts also gave the current Federalist president a monarchal power, it was the president which would have the only authority in removal of an immigrant whom “presented danger to safety” in the U. S. (Doc Q). Immigration was greatly feared by Washington because he saw his nation losing its culture (doc A); even Jefferson feared the large amounts of immigrants overwhelming the populace, despite this group being his main source of Jeffersonian members (doc B). Immigration played an important role in the fight for supremacy between the two parties, equally as important if not more than the fight between Britain and France.
The war between Britain and France was a major issue over the formation of the Alien Sedition Acts. Nationalism was a large problem during the late seventeen hundreds, the country was torn between England and the former American ally of France (The American Pageant). The two political parties that controlled the nation each supported different countries, the Democrats supporting France and the Federalist Party with England. Hamilton would try to manipulate the country by stating that it was unpatriotic to support France (Doc I). Hamilton was attempting to undermine Democratic authority by manipulating the guilt of the countries populace to support its mother country (England). When Hamilton stated that it was unpatriotic to support France he was saying that it was unpatriotic to support the Democratic Party. It was obvious that each party had taken its sides in the war and both unions would again attempt to undermine its opposition. James Madison would attempt to twist the views of John Adams by stating that because Adams did not support all of the views of the French Revolution that he supported the monarchal institution (Doc N). In 1792 Hamilton accused Jefferson of being a French supporter among other things, further separating the Democratic and Federalist Parties (Doc D). Each political union made attempts to overthrow their opposing parties. France was illustrated negatively to the American public, an American cartoon about the XYZ affair portrayed the French as irrational and prodigal (Doc M). France was seen dissentingly in the cartoon to more strongly affirm the American fatalistic view of the French nation. There were large attempts by the Federalist Party to undermine the Democratic Republicans through France. Warring between two European nations developed a large distinction among the two political parties when they each chose to support separate sides. Agreement of the Democratic and Federalist alliances over the European war was nonexistent and unlikely to ever change. The nation was caught in the crossfire in the war not only in the war between Britain and France but now it would also have to endure the battle between Federalists and Democrats.
The Alien and sedition acts would not have existed if not for the role of partisanship in the American Political System. The Federalist and Democratic Parties were the cause of the Alien Sedition Acts because the 1798 Acts were simply weapons of the party in power stated Albert Gallatin in the House of Representatives (Doc P). Alexander Hamilton in a letter to Colonel Edward Carrington would attempt to convince the Colonel that Thomas Jefferson was an extremist and gain support of the military leader (Doc D). Jefferson had attempted to place himself in political ambiguity when he wrote a letter to French Minister Francis Hopkinson attempting to gain Hopkinsons trust (Doc C). Jefferson may have succeeded in convincing the French Minister of his non-partisanship but in the United States their was an entirely different view on politics. D. M. Erskine wrote a letter depicting how the American Political System was established (Doc S). In the U. S. a person was a member of one party or the another, it was black and white in the United States and no gray area for people to hide. Because the political leaders both realized that they could not hide in the safety of non-partisan politics each decided to portray themselves as the protagonists. Jefferson would attempt to portray himself as the hero when he wrote a letter to congressman William Branch (Doc F) stating how he was for unity of the nation but was in reality attempting to place himself on a pedestal. Jefferson wished to be viewed, as the lesser of two evils, wanting what America wanted. Jefferson would again attempt to gain trust with other nations in a letter to Phillip Mazzei (Doc G). In the letter Jefferson would attempt to portray himself as the victim in a dictatorship of a tyrannical Federalist Party. Hamilton would also attempt to be viewed as a saint in this political battle when he wrote a draft of George Washington’s Farewell Address. Hamilton would go over how partisanship was the undoing of the nation and that I was not ended it would be the death of the country. Jefferson would try to gain the trust of President Washington through a letter warning Washington of danger in his cabinet (Doc E). Hamilton would strive to achieve sympathy for his party but it would be to no avail when its deterioration began shortly after the end of the Alien Sedition Acts (the American Pageant). The XYZ affair papers in 1798 scribed that the end of political parties was soon at an end (Doc K) misleading many people. A letter from Jefferson to Madison (Doc L) showed the arrogance of the Democratic Party and the weakness that affected them the most. The American Political Parties would do anything to stop one another from securing power but the true fear of the political party leaders was overthrow by the disenfranchised.
The two major parties in the U. S. feared each other greatly but what was the greatest threat to power was the will of the disenfranchised. The two political leaders knew from first hand experience the thralls of revolution and neither party would allow it. The then future president Samuel Adams did not have faith in the lower classes and did not wish to permit them to partake in government (Doc J). Adams did not believe that the public was well educated enough, not even the exclusive few who had the right to vote, to know what it was that was best for them. Alexander Hamilton knew that if the Alien Sedition Acts were not carefully implemented a Civil War may result (Doc R). Hamilton wished to have the bill be both powerful enough to control the public and appear passive enough not to anger the public in sucession. The Sedition Act itself prohibited combination or conspiracy against the United States government and the publication of “scandalous and malicious” writings against the government or its officials, under penalty of fine or imprisonment. The fear that the press would spread malicious rumors against the government was a very serious threat to the power of it. John Allen when speaking in front of congress appealed to their more sensible side by threatening congress’s loss of power if the Sedition Law was not implemented. It was the government’s own fear of loss of power that drove the sedition laws into effect in June 1798. The governments own insecurities nearly incited a premature Civil War.
The Alien and Sedition Acts brought up many issues that greatly effected our nation. Immigration was the beginnings of our nation yet in the late seventeen hundreds it began to be seen as an enemy of our nation. Democratic political leaders relied on the growing population of immigrants but for Federalists it was a threat to their existent. For the most part immigrants could be considered Democratic and with their growing population Democrats began to rival the Federalist Party. With the war between the two European nations America was forced to side because of their close relationship with both of countries. Both political parties would side with opposing nations, making agreement even more difficult. Partisanship in this nation was the very root of the problem in the Alien Sedition Acts, inspecting each issue a person can see that partisanship was responsible for every aspect that was responsible for the 1798 Acts. If the two political parties were able to agree on the major issues of government there would have been no oppressive laws in 1798. Insecurity on both parties’ sides was a large issue in the Sedition Acts. The only reason for existence of the Sedition Acts was to control the lower classes and remove the threat of revolution if the government were to “go too far.” The Alien and Sedition Acts were simply weapons of the Federalist Party. These Acts were imposed because of arrogance and partisanship, no other reason.