An Early Constitutional Crisis: An Act Concerning Aliens – by Daniel Sheridan

#OTD, June 25, 1798, An Act Concerning Aliens is by Daniel Sheridan

It’s the 1790s. Trouble is brewing in France. Meanwhile, we were having trouble at home. Many American newspapers favored France, and the editors viciously attacked President Adams and Great Britain. In 1798, Congress tried to check these offenses by passing two laws:

1. The Alien Law authorized the President to banish any foreigner he considered dangerous to the peace and safety of America. The law read in part: “Confers power on the President to order aliens to depart…Such as the President shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, or shall have reasonable grounds to suspect of treasonable or secret machinations against the government.”
Adams never enforced it.

2. The Sedition Law provided for the punishment of persons who spoke or wrote maliciously about the Federal Government. Under this law, several people were punished, leading to a Constitutional crisis. Virginia and Kentucky passed Nullification Resolutions claiming these laws transferred too much power to the Federal

Even in those early days, the people faced Constitutional issues. We meet them today. So let’s get to know our Constitution and engage in intelligent and honorable debate.




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