The Alien and Sedition Acts: A First Amendment Travesty

The First Amendment prohibits the Congress from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion”, impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech and infringing on the freedom of the press. However, “the man” attempted to infringe upon these rights with the Alien and Seditions Act.

Four bills were signed by John Adams when France was threatening the US with war. In particular, the Sedition Act, made it illegal to speak out against the government. Many newspaper owners, including Benjamin Franklin’s son, were arrested for violating the Sedition Act.

Once members of the then-Democratic-Republican party declared these laws to be unconstitutional, the public outcry against these acts continued to grow. There were many political rallies based on the Alien and Sedition Acts during the election of 1800, and once Thomas Jefferson won the presidency, most of the Alien and Sedition Acts were repealed.

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