The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 : testing the Constitution / Terri Diane Halperin.Material type: TextSeries: 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
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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?"--