The Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four bills that the government passed in 1798. The Acts were intended to protect Americans from their foreign enemies. The Acts made it harder for foreigner to become citizens, gave the president the power to deport or arrest suspicious people, and made malicious writing about the government illegal. The dispute over the Alien and Sedition Acts exposed bitter disagreements on a number of issues. Some of these important issues are immigration, concern of becoming a monarchy, and foreign policy.
One of the many underlying issues that brought about the debate over the Alien and sedition acts was immigration. The immigrants that came to America usually sided with the Democratic-Republican Party. Because of this, part of the Alien and Sedition Acts was the Naturalization Act. This increased the number of years required for immigrants to qualify for U.S citizens from 5 years to 14 years. The federalists adopted these laws because they wanted to stay in power, and since they were aware of the fact that many of the immigrants would vote for their opposing party, this act ensured that they couldn’t vote. George Washington thought that immigration could help unite the country as a whole if there was an intermixture of cultures. (Doc. A) What is ironic is that Jefferson, one of the men who was most apposed of the Alien and Sedition Acts, looked down on immigration. He believed that immigrants will bring in ideas from their previous government, and will cause the United States to slowly become an anarchy or a monarchy. (Doc. B) This leads in to another underlying concern with the Alien and Sedition Acts: the fear that the newly formed United States democracy would cave into a monarchy. The Sedition Act made it illegal to insult the federal government verbally or published in writing. This violated two aspects of the Bill of Rights: