Signed into law by President John Adams in 1798, the Alien
and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws passed by the Federalist-controlled
Congress as America prepared for war with France. These acts
increased the residency requirement for American citizenship
from five to fourteen years, authorized the president to
imprison or deport aliens considered "dangerous to the
peace and safety of the United States" and restricted
speech critical of the government. These laws were designed
to silence and weaken the Democratic-Republican Party. Negative
reaction to the Alien and Sedition Acts helped contribute
to the Democratic-Republican victory in the 1800 elections.
Congress repealed the Naturalization Act in 1802, while the
other acts were allowed to expire.
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
The full-text of the Alien and Sedition Acts can be found
in the United
States Statutes at Large:
Debates contains a section on the response to the
Alien and Sedition Acts, including the text of the Virginia
Resolution, responses to the Virginia Resolution from
other states, the Kentucky Resolution, and James Madison's
report on the Virginia Resolution.
this collection on the words "alien sedition"
for additional Congressional information on the Alien
and Sedition Acts, including debate in the Annals
Resolutions of Virginia and Kentucky, Penned by Madison and Jefferson, in Relation to the Alien and Sedition Laws; and the Debates and Proceedings in the House of Delegates of Virginia, on the Same, in December, 1798. Richmond: R.I. Smith, 1835. [Catalog
Record] [Full Text]
The Virginia Report of 1799-1800, Touching the Alien and Sedition Laws; Together with the Virginia Resolutions of December 21, 1798, the Debate and Proceedings Thereon in the House of Delegates of Virginia, and Several Other Documents Illustrative of the Report and Resolutions. Richmond: J. W. Randolph, 1850. [Catalog
Record] [Full Text]
Bird, Wendell R. Press and Speech Under Assault: The Early Supreme Court Justices and the Sedition Act of 1798, and the Campaign Against Dissent. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. [Catalog
Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. The
Age of Federalism.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. [Catalog
Halperin, Terri Diane. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: When a Congressional Majority Assaulted Immigrants and Civil Liberties. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016. [Catalog Record]
Miller, John Chester. Crisis in Freedom:
The Alien and Sedition Acts. Boston: Little Brown,
Slack, Charles. Liberty's First Crisis: Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2015. [Catalog Record]
Smith, James Morton. Freedom's Fetters:
The Alien and Sedition Laws and American Civil Liberties.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1956. [Catalog
Watkins, William J., Jr. Reclaiming
the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
and Their Legacy.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. [Catalog