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 time that a little plain truth should be promulgated. The country, in 1798, was vehemently agitated by the struggles of the domestic parties, which about equally divided it, and these struggles were urged to unwonted and extreme bitterness, by the preparations made and making for a war with France. By an act of Congress, passed in the summer of that year, the President of the United States was clothed with power to send from the country any alien whom he might judge dangerous to the public peace and safety, or who should be concerned in any treasonable or secret machinations against the Government of the United States. This act was passed as a war measure; it was to be in force two years, and it expired by its own limitation on the 25th of June, 1800. War, it is true, had not been formally declared; but hostilities on the ocean had taken place on both sides, and the army of the United States had been placed upon a war footing. The measure was certainly within the war power, and one which no prudent commander, even without the authority of a statute, would hesitate to execute in an urgent case within his own district. Congress thought fit to provide for and regulate its exercise by law. Two or three weeks later (14th July, 1798) another law was enacted, making it penal to combine or conspire with intent to oppose any lawful measure of the Government of the United States, or to write, print, or publish any false and scandalous writing against the Government, either House of Congress, or the President of the United States. In prosecutions under this law, it was provided that the Truth might be pleaded in justification, and that the Jury should be judges of the law as well as of the fact. This law was by its own limitation to expire at the close of the then current Presidential term. Such are the famous alien and sedition laws, passed under the Administration of that noble and true-hearted revolutionary patriot, John Adams, though not recommended by him officially or privately; adjudged to be constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States; distinctly approved by Washington, Patrick Henry, and Marshall; and, whatever else may be said of them, certainly preferable to the laws which, throughout the Seceding States, Judge Lynch would not fail to enforce at the lamp-post and tar-bucket against any person guilty of the offences against which these statutes were aimed. It suited, however, the purposes of party at that time, to raise a formidable clamor against these laws. It was in vain that their Constitutionality was affirmed by the Judiciary of the United States. “Nothing,” said Washington, alluding to these laws, “will produce the least change in the conduct of the leaders of the opposition to the measures of the General Government. They have points to carry from which no reasoning, no inconsistency of conduct, no absurdity can divert them.” Such, in the opinion of Washington, was the object for which the Legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky passed their famous resolutions of 1798, the former drafted by Mr. Madison, and the latter by Mr. Jefferson, and sent to a friend in Kentucky to be brought forward. These resolutions were transmitted to the other States for their concurrence. The replies from the States which made any response were referred the following year to committees in Virginia and Kentucky. In the Legislature of Virginia, an elaborate report was made by Mr. Madison, explaining and defending the resolutions; in Kentucky another resolve reaffirming those of the preceding year was drafted by Mr. Wilson Cary Nicholas, not by Mr. Jefferson, as stated by General McDuffie. Our respect for the distinguished
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