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The Political Crisis of the 1790s, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 625

Essay

Throughout history, one factor has been consistent, when it comes to politics, conflict follows closely behind.  This is as relevant in current society, as it was with the political crisis of the 1790’s.  The American Revolution was described by George Washington as “’debauched’ and worse”. 1 This began a domino effect of war, political unrest; disgruntle citizens, and a government being shaped into what we know today.

The 1790’s had a vast amount of historical political significance.  This was the point where the two-party system emerged.  This is also the first instance where Presidential power was transferred and the constriction of personal freedom.  Economic growth was present, increasing finances and creating a higher need for agriculture and transportations.  The demands for internal and external trade, forced America to look at ways to improve this process.  This led to things like paved roads and a better way to export.

In1793, England and France went to war, leaving the United States, with the fragile experimental republican government, wondering if they should support the French.  The colonies had made a commitment to aid France in the event of an attack; however, Washington had since implemented the Policy of Neutrality.  This divided up the Americans, some felt they were honor-bound to support France, and others felt is was best to remain uninvolved.  Due to the U.S. continuation of trade, England decided retaliation was mandates, and took hundreds of American ships.  John Jay was sent to negotiate a treaty, if that was an option.  The treaty was long and complex, and after barely passing Congress, Jay’s treaty was established.  This treaty was far from sufficient to facilitate peace.   Shortly after Adams took office, the French began harassing American ships again, and hundreds of U.S. vessels were seized.  As a result, the unofficial, “Quasi-war with France broke out at sea, mostly in the Caribbean, with American ships seizing French merchant ships.”2

The civil war erupted, involving French, Spanish and Brittan along with the local inhabitants.  This was over slavery and the Americans quickly became fearful of a slave rebellion.   America was going through so many wars in such a short period of time, and when their political structure was weak from the experimental period.  Certain domestic ramifications from these wars were inevitable.  One of the most substantial was the Alien and Sedition Act.  This was the first time that the United States attempted to maintain national security by preventing entrance to individual from different countries.   Equivalent to today’s Homeland Security.   The sedition act was controversial because it violated the Constitution by repressing free speech.  Individuals and media, who criticized the government, were subject to jail time and fines.

The Alien Act imposed periods for Naturalization in order to check the potential danger that the foreigner may bring to the country. It also set the stage for deportation based on factors that were unfavorable. The intentions of this act were to almost harass France, and keep French immigrants from entering the United States.

American’s civil liberties were greatly challenged by 1798.  Adams and the Federalist Congress passed a series of laws that created limitations. Congressional leaders pushed Adams to heighten domestic repression.  The policies that Adams supported have since been used as an example of what unconstitutional consists of.   However, Adams was more worried about the political favors he would get instead of the morality of upholding the constitution.  These crisis’ may have taken place in a completely different era, however, there is still relevance in today’s political society to with these events that transpired in the 1790’s.

End Notes

Politics in Transition: Public Conflict in the 1790s., 19.

S. History: From the Colonial Period to 1877., 3.

Bibliography

“Politics in Transition: Public Conflict in the 1790s.”  U.S History. http://www.ushistory.org/us/19.asp

McKay, Dr. Edrene S.  U.S. History: From the Colonial Period to 1877.

http://historysources.tripod.com/us-  classnotes/Topic%208.2%20The%20Political%20Crisis%20of%20the%201790s.pdf

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