AmericanHistory: Chapter 8: Securing the Republic, 1790 -1815
In1798, the United States ratified the Alien and Sedition Acts as aresult of the Quasi War. Most historians see this was as a warbetween Britain and France. However, it needs to be pointed out thatthe United States also played a role in the war. For instance, itactively engaged France in naval battles. Due to these activities, itwas feared that the war could lead to a big war. The Alien Act wasratified to give the President of the United States power to deportany immigrant as he wished (Foner 317). The government of the daythought that many of these immigrants were against President JohnAdams. On the other hand, the Sedition Act was passed to illegalizecriticism towards the government (Foner 318). Anybody who criticizedthe administration of President Adams risked being prosecuted andjailed. Despite the important role they played in strengtheningnational security, I generally feel that the two acts were not sucheffective. Adam’s administration used them as instruments withwhich to deal with the opposition that was led by Thomas Jefferson.The acts actually violated Americans’ personal liberties andfreedoms. They thus interfered with the principle of democracy.
Theintroduction of the new U.S. Constitution led to the democratizationof public life in the 1790s. During this period, America wasdominated by intense political debates (Foner 324). According to myunderstanding, this was not what the Founding Fathers of the nationmeant. However, there was nothing that could prevent such debatesfrom taking place. As time went by, two dominant political partiesemerged (Foner 229). Like in any other country, the parties tookdifferent stands in terms of political, social and economic policies.It is also important to note that the French Revolution which tookplace during this period also gained both sympathizers and opponentsin the United States. Debates concerning the revolution occurred inthe public realm.
Theexpanding public sphere of the late eighteenth century enabled womento gain presence. As far as I am concerned, it made it possible forsome of them to play active political roles in the society. Duringthis period, women in many states of America were not allowed tovote. Many of them could not access formal education. They wereconfined in their homes and their lives were defined by theobligations of their families. However, it is important to note thatdespite all these, some educated women of this period becamepolitical commentators (Foner 336). Some of them like Judith Sergeantand Mercy Otis Warren wrote important political essays. It is mybelief that it is these women who became important political figuresand participated in public political debates of the era.
Inthe last years of the eighteenth century, President Washington andother politicians felt that the American Indians had not been treatedin the right way. Of course that was true. The Indians had beenaffected by frequent wars and massacres. Their lands had been seized(Foner 340). I think that it is these instances of injustice thatprompted the government to think of a friendly policy towards theIndians. Despite this, the new policy did not work. Hungry settlerscontinued pressing to the lands of the Indians. As a result, theconflict between the settlers and the Indians continued throughoutthe last decade of the eighteen century (Foner 344). Therefore, Ithink that the main problem which caused the conflict was the whiteexpansion. There was no effective solution to this problem.
Theeighteenth century also led to the introduction of the phrase “empireof liberty” by President Jefferson. According to my understanding,an empire is a large territorial power. Jefferson was a supporter ofthe westward expansion (Foner 349). He believed that by opening upnew regions of settlement in the western region and encouragingagricultural activities, the United States would become as powerfulas an empire. Unlike European empires, Jefferson’s version of theempire would have the new areas being treated as equal states (Foner353). Since all states were going to have equal rights in the Union,it meant that an empire of liberty was going to be created in theUnited States.
Foner,Eric. GiveMe Liberty!: An American History.Chapter 8: “Securing the Republic, 1790-1815.” New York: W.W.Norton & Company, 2014. Print.