Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The XYZ Affair and the Alien and Sedition Acts

1. The XYZ Affair increased tension between France and America dramatically. When Talleyrand refused to directly meet with the American representatives (Charles Pickney, John Marshal, and Elbridge Gerry), it was a direct insult that expressed a total lack of respect for not only the representatives, but also toward the country. However, as if this were not bad enough, the three agents he provided for them to meet with (Known now as X, Y, and Z) met Pinkney's group with contempt. They even went so far as to demand a $250,000 bribe and $12 Million loan to France before they would even begin negotiations. America refused, and many hoped the country would even go so far as to declare war. Adams, however, refused to take such drastic measures. He instead set to work building American armies. This is not to say they remained peaceful; but full-out war was not declared. It was this simple snobbish snub that led to the end of the Alliance of 1778, and this one insulting demand that would end the peaceful attitudes between France and America.

2. There was no justification in the Constitution for the Alien and Sedition Acts. While logically, the threat of foreigners can make sense as having been worrying (especially considering the tensions between France and America), the reality of the prejudice in such a decision is completely contradictary to the peace and acceptance preached in the Constitution. Rather than the liberty and justice for all implied by this beloved Constitution, these acts were simply enforcements of unfair judgements that had little provocation and were nothing more than an abuse of power. The Alien and Sedition Acts simply twisted people's rising fears of foreigners to manipulate the people who had made this country possible into having a single common enemy, whom they could feel reliant on the government to protectthem from.
Further than this, the Sedition acts directly contradicted te Bill of Righs. They directly prohibited any "free" speech that spoke against the government in any way, completely repealing the First Ammendment.

3. Kentucky and Virginia were completely justified in their responses to the Alien and Sedition Acts. Acknowledging the lies and abuses of these acts, they called on the power of individual states to protect their citizens from any abuse to their rights. The Constitution directly stated that the People had the right to freedom of speech, as well as equality, and Kentucky and Virginia simply spoke to stop the abuse of power on the part of the Adams administration.

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