John Adams


What series of laws passed by Congress and signed by President Adams caused great controversy?

The Alien and Seditions Act, passed in 1798, caused great controversy. This legislation consisted of four laws: (1) the Naturalization Act, which increased the required period of residence for would-be citizens from five to fourteen years; (2) the Alien Friends Act, which gave the president the power to remove from the country outsiders he deemed “dangerous”; (3) the Alien Enemies Act, which gave the president the power to deport those aliens who were from countries at war with the United States; and (4) the Sedition Act, which made it a crime to make “false, scandalous and malicious” writings against the government. Many—including Vice President Thomas Jefferson—opposed these laws as an invasion of state rights and a violation of individual freedoms. For example, many believed that the Sedition Act of 1798 violated the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and press.


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