Directions: The following question requires you to construct an essay that integrates your interpretation of Documents A-R and your knowledge of the period referred to in the question. In the essay you should strive to support your assertions both by citing key pieces of evidence from the documents and by drawing on your knowledge of the period.
The debate over the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 revealed bitter controversies on a number of issues. Discuss the issues involved and explain why these controversies developed.
Historical Setting: During June and July, 1798, Congress passed four bills, together known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. Granting the federal government extensive powers to deal with internal subversion, these acts did the following:
(1) required a fourteen-year residency period for aliens prior to naturalization as a citizen
(2) gave the President power to deport "all such aliens as he shall judge dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States"
(3) allowed the restraint and removal in time of war of resident adult aliens of the hostile nation
(4) prohibited combination or conspiracy against the United States government and the publication of "scandalous and malicious" writings against the government or its officials, under penalty of fine or imprisonment
These Acts capped a decade of domestic turmoil and of international crisis, beginning with the outbreak of the French Revolution in the summer of 1789 and culminating in the notorious "XYZ Affair" of October, 1797. At that time, three American commissioners seeking a treaty of commerce and friendship with France received demands from "Monsieurs X, Y, and Z," three representatives of the "Directory" which ruled France. These demands were for a United States loan, a bribe, and an apology from President Adams for some anti-French remarks.
The Alien and Sedition Acts of the following year immediately became the subject of vigorous controversy. Historians, likewise, continue to debate the reasons for their passage and their significance for understanding American society in the 1790's.]
"My opinion, with respect to [immigration] is, that except of useful mechanics and some particular descriptions of men or professions, there is no need of encouragement, while the policy or advantage of its taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, habits and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them-Whereas by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, measures and laws:-in a word, soon become one people."
George Washington, President of the United States, letter to John Adams, Vice-President
(November 15, 1794)
"The present desire of America is to produce rapid population by as great importations of foreigners as possible. But is this founded in good policy?
“Every species of government has its specific principles. Ours perhaps are more peculiar than those of any other in the universe. It is a composition of the freest principles of the English constitution, with others derived from natural right and natural reason. To these nothing can be more opposed than the maxims of absolute monarchies. Yet from such we are to expect the-greatest number of emigrants. They will bring with them the principles of the governments they leave, imbibed in their early youth; or, if able to throw them off, it will be in exchange for an unbounded licentiousness, passing, as is usual, from one extreme to another. It would be a miracle were they to stop precisely at the point of temper@ ate liberty. These principles, with their language, they will transmit to their children. In proportion to their numbers, they will share with us the legislation. They will infuse into it their spirit, warp and bias its directions, and render it a…