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Alien and Sedition Acts



These acts were passed during John Adams time as president in response to criticisms against the government and specifically the Federalists. The backlash to these acts was probably the main reason why John Adams was not elected to a second term as president. The Acts consist of four measures designed to limit immigration and free speech. They include:

The Naturalization Act - The residence requirement for citizenship moved from five to fourteen years.

The Alien Act - The President could deport "dangerous" aliens at will.

The Alien Enemy Act - The president could expel or imprison enemy aliens during times of declared war.

The Sedition Act - Any conspiracy against the government including riots and interference with officers would result in a high misdemeanor. This went so far as to stop people from speaking in a "false, scandalous and malicious" manner against the government.

Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would issue the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in response to these acts.

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