Differences Between The Virginia And Kentucky Resolutions Of 1798

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The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 were Democratic and Republican responses to the Alien and Sedition Acts passed earlier that same year by a Federalist Congress. Drafted in secret by future presidents: Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the resolutions stated the Alien and Sedition Acts as unconstitutional and claimed that because these acts overstepped federal authority under the Constitution, they were worthless.

The resolutions have a complicated history. They were an early defense of the Constitution’s protection of civil rights, especially freedom of speech and the press, however, because they argued that the acts illegally stole powers reserved for the states, they also became the founding documents in the states’ rights movement and were cited.

The resolutions were written in response to Alien and Sedition Acts, which were 4 separate laws passed during an undeclared war at sea with France. Among other things, the Alien Acts granted the president the power to detain, seize, and deport any noncitizen he deemed dangerous to the United States, even when the nation was at war. Accused aliens were given no right to a judicial hearing or to hear the specific charges against them. The Sedition Act made it a crime to print, write, publish, …show more content…

Jefferson and Madison kept their authorship of the resolutions secret because they feared arrest for sedition. When the Federalists gained control of all three branches of the federal government in 1798, Jefferson struck on the idea of getting state legislatures to pass resolutions as a way to respond to the acts. He hoped that more states would respond in like minded ways and that this would lead to more electoral victories over the Federalists. But Kentucky’s legislature passed the resolution that Jefferson had penned with little debate on November 11, 1798, and the Virginia legislature passed its more temperate resolution on Christmas Eve of the same

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