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The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed in 1798 The Naturalization Act raised the number of years of United States residency required for naturalization from 5 to 14 The Alien Act empowered the president to arrest and deport aliens considered dangerous The Alien Enemies Act provided for the deportation of subjects of foreign powers at war with the United States The Sedition Act made it illegal to publish certain statements against the government oppose lawful acts of the Congress of the United States or aid a foreign power in plotting against the United States These laws were in response to the harsh criticism that was drawn by the administration of John Adams by newspaper editors and public speakers The Alien and Sedition Acts were enacted by a Congress dominated by the Federalist Party and signed by President John Adams during a crisis with France Though the acts were allegedly in response to the hostile actions of the French Revolutionary government on the seas and in the councils of diplomacy They were designed to destroy Thomas Jeffersons Republican party which had openly expressed its sympathies for the French Revolutionaries Depending on recent immigrants from Europe for much of their voting strength the Republicans were adversely affected by the Naturalization Act It postponed citizenship and thus voting privileges until the completion of 14 rather than 5 years of residence The Alien Act and the Alien Enemies Act gave the President the power to imprison or deport aliens suspected of activities posing a threat to the national government President John Adams made no use of the alien acts Most controversial however was the Sedition Act It was devised to silence Republican criticism of the Federalists Its broad proscription of spoken or written criticism of the government the Congress or the President virtually nullified the First Amendment freedoms of speech and the press Prominent Jeffersonians most of them journalists were arrested under these laws Thomas Cooper 1759-1839
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