Chapter 9 Section 4
John Adams was an honest and able leader.
In 1797, French ships began to seize American ships in the West Indies, as the British had done.
To avoid war, Adams sent diplomats to Paris to discuss the right of neutral nations.
The XYZ Affair
The French foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleygrand, sent three agents to offer the Americans a deal which was:
Talleygrand would not meet with the Americans until Talleygrand was
paid $250,000 and a $10 million dollar loan was granted to France.
The American diplomats informed Adams who then told Congress.
Adams did not reveal the names of the French agents but instead called
them X,Y, and Z.
Many Americans were outraged. They were willing to spend money for the defense of the nation but would not pay bribes to another country.
Adams did not ask Congress to declare war on France. He also believed like Washington, that the U.S. should stay out of European affairs.
Adams decided to fight the French attacks on American ships by building frigates
which were fast sailing ships with many guns.
Federalist Party Splits – PRESIDENT Adams resists war.
Many Federalists criticized Adams for not going to war with France. Led by Hamilton some Federalists felt that a war would increase federal power.
Adams resisted Hamilton’s call for war. The disagreement between the two men caused a split in the Federalist Party. By continuing diplomatic talks with France
Adams sent diplomats to France who met Napoleon Bonaparte who was planning a war against several European nations. Since Bonaparte did not have time for a war with the U.S. he signed an agreement to stop seizing American ships.
Alien and Sedition Acts
In 1798, the Federalists passed several laws in Congress. These laws were known as the Alien and Sedition acts stated:
The president could expel any alien, or foreigner, thought to be dangerous to the country.
Another law made it harder to become a citizen. Prior to 1798, white immigrants could become citizens after living in the U.S. For 5 years. The new law made immigrants wait 14 years. This was done because many immigrants supported Jefferson and the Republicans. As a result, the immigrants could not vote for years.
Republicans became even more upset with the Federalists because of the Sedition Act. Sedition means stirring up rebellion against a government. As a result of this law citizens could be fined or jailed if they criticize the government or its officials.
The Republicans said the Sedition Act violated the first amendment which protected
freedom of speech and the press.
The Rights of the States
Jefferson opposed the Alien and .Sedition acts.
He urged the states to fight the acts.
Jefferson said the states had the right to nullify, or cancel, a law passed by the federal government.
The Kentucky and Virginia resolutions stated that each state has an equal right to judge for itself whether a law is constitutional. If a state rules a law as unconstitutional, it has the power to nullify the law in its borders. JEFFERSON SUPPORTED THE STATES.
The Kentucky and Virginia resolutions raised the question of states’ rights.
Election of 1800
The election resulted in a tie between Jefferson and Burr. The tie was broken after 4 days and 36 votes.
Result: The house chose Jefferson as President and Burr as Vice President. (HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES)
In 1804- the 12th amendment was passed which required electors to vote separately for President and Vice President.
After 1800, the Federalist Party was weakened after Alexander Hamilton was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.