ECU Libraries Catalog

Criminal dissent : prosecutions under the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 / Wendell Bird.

Author/creator Bird, Wendell R. author.
Format Book and Print
Publication Info Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2020.
Copyright Notice ©2020
Descriptionviii, 546 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents Introduction -- Federalist and Republican views of government -- Passing laws against internal enemies -- The Sedition Act first campaign: "The suppression of the Whig presses": Common law sedition prosecutions -- Targeting opposition members of Congress -- Keeping the North safe from sedition -- Failed prosecutions -- The Virginia and Kentucky resolutions -- The Sedition Act second campaign: The rebellion the army could not find -- The Fries Rebellion and sedition -- The army and the Sedition Act -- The Sedition Act Third campaign: The "reign of witches" and the election of 1800 -- A new round of enforcement -- New York prosecutions -- New England prosecutions -- Prowling the circuit stalking sedition -- The Alien Act: "Worthy of the 8th. or 9th. Century" -- French intriguers and hordes of wild Irishmen -- At the mercy of one man -- Epilogue.
Abstract "The campaign to prosecute dissenting Americans under the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 ignited the first battle over the Bill of Rights. Fearing destructive criticism and "domestic treachery" by Republicans, the administration of John Adams led a determined effort to safeguard the young republic by suppressing the opposition. The acts gave the president unlimited discretion to deport noncitizens and made it a crime to criticize the president, Congress, or the federal government. In this definitive account, Wendell Bird goes back to the original federal court records and the papers of Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and finds that the administration's zeal was far greater than historians have recognized. Indeed, there were twice as many prosecutions and planned deportations as previously believed. The government went after local politicians, raisers of liberty poles, and even tavern drunks but most often targeted Republican newspaper editors, including Benjamin Franklin's grandson. Those found guilty were sent to prison or fined and sometimes forced to sell their property to survive. The Alien and Sedition Acts launched a foundational debate on press freedom, freedom of speech, and the legitimacy of opposition politics. The result was widespread revulsion over the government's attempt to deprive Americans of their hard-won liberties. Criminal Dissent is a potent reminder of just how fundamental those rights are to a stable democracy"-- Provided by publisher.
Bibliography noteIncludes bibliographical references and index.
LCCN 2019028694
ISBN0674976134 hardcover

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