Unformatted text preview: The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions Chapter 7: Launching the New Republic, 17891800
Presented By: Trevor Grabhorn
Presented By: Trevor Grabhorn Authors/Purpose (1798 and 1799), were measures passed by
the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky as
a protest against the Federalist Alien and
The resolutions were written by James
Madison and Thomas Jefferson (then vice
president in the administration of John
Adams), but the role of those statesmen
remained unknown to the public for almost
Generally, the resolutions argued that
because the federal government was the
outcome of a compact between the states,
all powers not specifically granted to the
central authority were retained by the
individual states or by the people. Alien and Sedition Acts In 1798, the Federalist-controlled Congress passed a series of
laws which, on the surface, were designed to control the
activities of foreigners in the United States during a time of
Beneath the surface, however, the real intent of these laws was
to destroy Jeffersonian Republicanism.
The laws, known collectively as the "Alien and Sedition Acts,"
The Naturalization Act, which extended the residency period
from 5 to 14 years for those aliens seeking citizenship; this law
was aimed at Irish and French immigrants who were often
active in Republican politics
The Alien Act, which allowed the expulsion of aliens deemed
dangerous during peacetime
The Alien Enemies Act, which allowed the expulsion or
imprisonment of aliens deemed dangerous during wartime. This
was never enforced, but it did prompt numerous Frenchmen to
The Sedition Act, which provided for fines or imprisonment
for individuals who criticized the government, Congress, or
president in speech or print. Alien and Sedition Acts cont. The Alien Acts were never enforced, but the
Sedition Act was. A number of Republican
newspaper publishers were convicted under the
terms of this law.
The Jeffersonians argued quite rightly that the
Sedition Act violated the terms of the First
Amendment and offered a remedy in the
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.
While these laws were either repealed or allowed
to expire in the next administration, they were
significant as rallying points for the
The heavy-handed Federalist policies worked to
the advantage of the Republicans as they
prepared for the Election of 1800.
prepared Conclusion Since Congress was firmly controlled by
the Federalists, the fight against the Alien
and Sedition Acts moved to the state
legislatures in late 1798.
James Madison prepared the Virginia
Resolutions and Thomas Jefferson wrote
the Kentucky Resolutions.
Both followed a similar argument: The
states had the duty to nullify within their
borders those laws that were
Nothing concrete resulted from the passage
of these resolutions; no other states
followed with similar actions.
The death of George Washington in 1799
helped to quiet tempers, and the Alien and
Sedition Acts soon expired or were
repealed. However, the issue of
nullification had been put on the table.
nullification Works Citied
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This note was uploaded on 07/29/2011 for the course ECON 101 taught by Professor Smith during the Spring '10 term at Baltimore City.
- Spring '10