The Alien and Sedition Acts consisted of four laws enacted by the United States government in 1798. The United States passed these laws during a time of great uncertainty, a time when many Americans feared for the very survival for their nation.
But why did Americans fear for the United States’ existence and why did they think four laws that limited citizenship and freedom of speech would protect and secure their young republic?
Terri Halperin, an instructor at the University of Richmond and author of The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Testing the Constitution, will help us find answers to these questions by taking us through the Alien and Sedition Acts and how they came to be.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Terri Halperin, an instructor at the University of Richmond and author of The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Testing the Constitution, helps us explore the Alien and Sedition Acts and their origins.
During our conversation, Terri reveals information about the political climate in and around the United States during the 1790s; The beliefs of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties and why there was such animosity between them; And, details about the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 and the debates they sparked.
What You’ll Discover
- The political climate in the United States around 1798
- Where the United States fit into the world in the 1790s
- Federalists and Democratic-Republicans
- Animosity between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans
- Newspapers and their function in the early republic
- Ideas about American citizenship during the 1790s
- The Naturalization debates
- Immigration to the United States during the 1790s
- XYZ Affair
- Blount Affair
- The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798
- Americans’ response to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts
- Support and opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts
- Enforcement of the Alien and Sedition Acts
- The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Terri Halperin
- Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798: Testing the Constitution
- E-mail Liz your questions about early American history
- Episode 007: John Adams and the Adams Papers Documentary Editing Project
- Episode 017: François Furstenberg, When the United States Spoke French
- Episode 052: Ronald Johnson, Early United States-Haitian Diplomacy
- Episode 076: Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution
- Episode 165: The Age of Revolutions
- Episode 167: Eberhard Faber, The Early History of New Orleans
In your opinion, what might have happened if President John Adams had never signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into law?
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