us in the contest then devastating the Old World.
, and the Federal
magnates who surrounded him, were inflexibly averse to this, and baffled all attempts to involve us in a foreign war. This very naturally offended the European
refugees among us, who looked anxiously to this country for interference to reestablish them in power and prosperity in their own. Hence, they generally took the lead in reprobating and stigmatizing the negotiation and approval of Jay
with Great Britain
, whereby our past differences and misunderstandings with that power were adjusted.
They were in good part politicians and agitators by trade, instinctively hostile to a government so cold-blooded and unimpulsive as ours, and ardently desired a change.
Regarding them as dangerous and implacable enemies to the established policy of non-intervention, and to those who upheld it, the Alien law assumed to empower the President
to send out of the country any foreigner whose further stay among us should be deemed by him incompatible with the public safety or tranquillity.
The Sedition law provided for the prosecution and punishment of the authors of false, malicious, and wicked libels on the President
, and others high in authority.
The facts that no one ever was
sent away under the Alien act, and that the Sedition law was hardly more than the common law of libel applied specially to those who should venture to speak evil of dignities, proved rather the folly of such legislation than its necessity or its accordance with the Constitution
Party spirit and party feeling ran high.
It was far easier to libel a hated opponent than to refute his arguments.
The best newspapers of that day would hardly maintain a comparison, either for ability or decorum, with the third class of our time; and personalities largely supplied the place of learning and logic.
Hence, many prosecutions under tile Sedition law; some of them, doubtless, richly deserved ; but all tending to excite hostility to the act and its authors.
No other contributed half so palpably to the ultimate overthrow of the Federal
When John Adams
, in 1797, the South
had become the stronghold of the Opposition.
had dissolved his earlier association with the great body of the framers of the Constitution
, and become the lieutenant of Mr. Jefferson
--a Virginia colony and offset — was ardently and almost unanimously devoted to the ideas and the fortunes of Jefferson
; and he was privately solicited to draft the manifesto, through which the new State beyond the Alleghanies
proclaimed, in 1798, her intense hostility to Federal rule.
The famous “Resolutions of ‘98” were thus originated; Mr. Jefferson
's authorship, though suspected, was never established until lie avowed it in a letter more than twenty years afterward.
These resolutions are too long to be here quoted in full, but the first is as follows:
Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General Government, but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes — delegated