Alien And Sedition Acts Dbq

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In the time leading up to the drafting of the Alien and Sedition Acts, distinct political parties were forming. The Federalists, who supported the act and were mainly elites, and the Democratic-Republicans, who did not and were mainly working class. The existence of these opposing political opinions led to rapid increase of tensions in the U.S. The government, which was majority Federalist. The Federalists had an unfair advantage and could pass laws to suppress the Democratic-Republicans from voicing their opinions, including the Alien and Sedition Acts that specifically targeted any dissent against them. President John Adams, a Federalist, drafted the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. This was caused largely by tensions with France. France …show more content…
Federalists thought the act was needed to secure the safety of the United States. Many believed that any dissent and conflict was dangerous, and Abigail Adams even believed that if dissenters were “not surpressd, we shall come to a civil war” (Abigail Adams 282). One of the Federalists ideals were that they needed a centralized government. The Sedition Act benefited them because it allowed them to weaken the Democratic-Republicans, making it even easier to shape the country to their views. They mainly wanted to stop resistance from agriculturalists and the working class, as they mainly consisted of and were supported by manufacturers, elites, and other influential people. They also viewed the dissenters as too radical, and feared they would become too much like the French Revolution. The people the Sedition Act controlled were the people the Federalists thought were too patriotic and had very radical democracy, and would become more dangerous without their …show more content…
They viewed it as an attempt to keep them out of politics and from voting, because they could not criticize the Federalists in any way (Hewitt and Lawson 231). They thought that the Federalists had too much power and were too elite, but their free speech was taken away and they could not do much about it. In the Virginia Resolution, a response the Sedition Act, James Madison talked about how the power the government was exercising was not only not granted by the constitution, but was also “expressly and positively forbidden by one of the amendments thereto” (James Madison 283). Essentially, the government went against their own constitution that allowed freedom of speech by making it things illegal. They also opposed the Sedition Act because it demonstrated “the political welfare swallowed up in a continual grasp for power” (Matthew Lyon 283). The Federalists were mainly elitists, and cared more about making money and power than about the working class. There was a disconnect between the two groups, and the Sedition Act only proved that further. The act was specifically negative for the working class and agriculturalists that generally did not agree with the Federalists. They legally could not fight back against policies that benefited the elite but hurt them, as their freedom of speech was unlawfully taken away. They feared that the government was becoming tyrannical and

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