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Free Expression and Democracy in AmericaA History$
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Stephen M. Feldman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226240664

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226240749.001.0001

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The Sedition Act Controversy

The Sedition Act Controversy

(p.70) Chapter 4 The Sedition Act Controversy
Free Expression and Democracy in America
University of Chicago Press

As President George Washington and his administration tackled the problems confronting the young nation, they began implementing and testing the structures of the new constitutional system. The Constitution, they learned, was not a smooth-running machine. The framers had hoped that a qualified elite would be elected and appointed to national offices, and would coalesce around a common good. While the framers had expected factionalism, they had not foreseen the imbroglios of the 1790s. These disputes became so ferocious that the Federalists, so recently united in support of constitutional ratification, were rent apart into two opposed “protoparties,” the Republicans and the Federalists. This chapter discusses republican democracy in the 1970s; the Alien and Sedition acts; and consequences of the Sedition Act prosecutions.

Keywords:   Constitution, constitutional system, Republicans, Federalists, republican democracy, Alien Laws, Sedition Act

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