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The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 : testing the Constitution / Terri Diane Halperin.

By: Halperin, Terri Diane, 1966- [author.].
Material type: TextTextSeries: Witness to history (Baltimore, Md.): Publisher: Baltimore, MD ; Johns Hopkins Univeristy Press , 2016Description: 155 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781421419688; 1421419688; 9781421419695; 1421419696.Subject(s): United States. Sedition Act of 1798 | 1700-1799 | Alien and Sedition laws, 1798 | Seditious libel -- Law and legislation -- United States -- History -- 18th century | Freedom of expression -- United States -- History -- 18th century | HISTORY -- United States -- General | POLITICAL SCIENCE -- Government -- General | LAW -- Constitutional | Alien and Sedition laws, 1798 | Freedom of expression | Seditious libel -- Law and legislation | United StatesGenre/Form: History.DDC classification: 324.73/0231 Other classification: HIS036000 | POL040000 | LAW018000
Contents:
Prologue -- Governing a Republic -- Extreme revolution, vexing immigration -- Partisan solutions -- Self-inflicted wounds -- Equal and opposite reaction -- Epilogue.
Summary: "In May 1798, after Congress released the XYZ Affair dispatches to the public, a raucous crowd took to the streets of Philadelphia. Some gathered to pledge their support for the government of President John Adams, others to express their disdain for his policies. Violence, both physical and political, threatened the safety of the city and the Union itself. To combat the chaos and protect the nation from both external and internal threats, the Federalists swiftly enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts. Oppressive pieces of legislation aimed at separating so-called genuine patriots from objects of suspicion, these acts sought to restrict political speech, whether spoken or written, soberly planned or drunkenly off-the-cuff. Little more than twenty years after Americans declared independence and less than ten since they ratified both a new constitution and a bill of rights, the acts gravely limited some of the very rights those bold documents had promised to protect. In The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Terri Diane Halperin discusses the passage of these laws and the furor over them, as well as the difficulties of enforcement. She describes in vivid detail the heated debates and tempestuous altercations that erupted between partisan opponents: one man pulled a gun on a supporter of the act in a churchyard; congressmen were threatened with arrest for expressing their opinions; and printers were viciously beaten for distributing suspect material. She also introduces readers to the fraught political divisions of the late 1790s, explores the effect of immigration on the new republic, and reveals the dangers of partisan excess throughout history. Touching on the major sedition trials while expanding the discussion beyond the usual focus on freedom of speech and the press to include the treatment of immigrants, Halperin's book provides a window through which readers can explore the meaning of freedom of speech, immigration, citizenship, the public sphere, the Constitution, and the Union"--Summary: "A blatantly partisan new immigration law. Legislation aimed to separate genuine patriots from objects of suspicion by restricting political speech--whether spoken or written and including both public remarks on a raised platform and drunken references outside a tavern. Fights on the floor of Congress, in one case involving a man who whipped fireplace tongs over his head as he went after an adversary. One may think of frenzied reaction to the September 2011 terrorist attacks or recent congressional quarrels over undocumented workers, health-care reform, or the budget deficit. But these things took place in 1798, when the new republic faced possible war with France over neutral rights on the high seas and the party of George Washington and President John Adams tried to crush the ungodly opposition of Madison, Jefferson, and the Irish. The Federalist-imposed Alien and Sedition acts threw into bright relief the forces that divided the country even in its early years, when most founders hoped and expected that the republic would escape factional (read party) strife. Halperin discusses passage of these acts and the furor over them in a way that introduces undergraduates to the situation at the time, the dangers of partisan excess at any time, and the impossibility of self-government without civil liberties. What do these legislative acts teach us about republican democracy?"--
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
KF9397.A3281798 H35 2016 (Browse shelf) Available 0000002336394

Includes bibliographical references (pages 133-144) and index.

Prologue -- Governing a Republic -- Extreme revolution, vexing immigration -- Partisan solutions -- Self-inflicted wounds -- Equal and opposite reaction -- Epilogue.

"In May 1798, after Congress released the XYZ Affair dispatches to the public, a raucous crowd took to the streets of Philadelphia. Some gathered to pledge their support for the government of President John Adams, others to express their disdain for his policies. Violence, both physical and political, threatened the safety of the city and the Union itself. To combat the chaos and protect the nation from both external and internal threats, the Federalists swiftly enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts. Oppressive pieces of legislation aimed at separating so-called genuine patriots from objects of suspicion, these acts sought to restrict political speech, whether spoken or written, soberly planned or drunkenly off-the-cuff. Little more than twenty years after Americans declared independence and less than ten since they ratified both a new constitution and a bill of rights, the acts gravely limited some of the very rights those bold documents had promised to protect. In The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, Terri Diane Halperin discusses the passage of these laws and the furor over them, as well as the difficulties of enforcement. She describes in vivid detail the heated debates and tempestuous altercations that erupted between partisan opponents: one man pulled a gun on a supporter of the act in a churchyard; congressmen were threatened with arrest for expressing their opinions; and printers were viciously beaten for distributing suspect material. She also introduces readers to the fraught political divisions of the late 1790s, explores the effect of immigration on the new republic, and reveals the dangers of partisan excess throughout history. Touching on the major sedition trials while expanding the discussion beyond the usual focus on freedom of speech and the press to include the treatment of immigrants, Halperin's book provides a window through which readers can explore the meaning of freedom of speech, immigration, citizenship, the public sphere, the Constitution, and the Union"--

"A blatantly partisan new immigration law. Legislation aimed to separate genuine patriots from objects of suspicion by restricting political speech--whether spoken or written and including both public remarks on a raised platform and drunken references outside a tavern. Fights on the floor of Congress, in one case involving a man who whipped fireplace tongs over his head as he went after an adversary. One may think of frenzied reaction to the September 2011 terrorist attacks or recent congressional quarrels over undocumented workers, health-care reform, or the budget deficit. But these things took place in 1798, when the new republic faced possible war with France over neutral rights on the high seas and the party of George Washington and President John Adams tried to crush the ungodly opposition of Madison, Jefferson, and the Irish. The Federalist-imposed Alien and Sedition acts threw into bright relief the forces that divided the country even in its early years, when most founders hoped and expected that the republic would escape factional (read party) strife. Halperin discusses passage of these acts and the furor over them in a way that introduces undergraduates to the situation at the time, the dangers of partisan excess at any time, and the impossibility of self-government without civil liberties. What do these legislative acts teach us about republican democracy?"--

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

Historian Halperin's volume on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 is a fine summary and analysis of one of the US's first political and constitutional crises. Most readers will not remember the complexity of the legislation or its very important history, which is presented very clearly here. Halperin (Univ. of Richmond) touches on all the major issues: the meaning and implementation of the First Amendment, the origin of political parties and political factionalism, freedom of the press, domestic rebellion, struggles over citizenship and immigration, the relationship of foreign affairs to domestic policy--all in 129 pages of text. The book is well researched and extremely well written. And it is teachable--one of the best short texts this reviewer knows of for undergraduate courses in early US history. There are flaws. The author treats several important concepts too casually and broadly--"the people," "the government," "freedom of the press," "nullification." Much more could be said about each concept, but Halperin and her editors have put a premium on telling a good, brief (and accurate) story. The result is an accessible scholarly volume that is both a good read and a good teaching assignment. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. --Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University

Author notes provided by Syndetics

<p> Terri Diane Halperin is a member of the history department at the University of Richmond.</p>

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