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Content Reading: The Antebellum Era: The New Nation of the USA Part 2
After the French Revolution, France and Britain went to war. Democratic-Republicans supported the French. Federalists supported the British. Washington declared the USA neutral in the matter. In 1794, Jay’s Treaty involved Chief Justice John Jay. He got Britain to relinquish western lands bordering the USA. Britain was allowed to stay in various areas for fur trading and kept control of the Caribbean. In 1795, a diplomat named Thomas Pinckney got Spain to sign a treaty called Pinckney’s Treaty. Spain gave up all land claims east of the Mississippi, except Florida.
George Washington set a precedent and did not run for a third term. In the presidential elections, the winner became President and the runner up Vice-President. In the election of 1796, Federalists nominated the Vice-President John Adams. The Democratic-Republicans nominated Thomas Jefferson. After the election, John Adams, supported by the Northerners, was elected President. Thomas Jefferson, supported by Southerners, was elected Vice-President.
France was angry that the USA signed Jay’s Treaty with Britain and started seizing ships that belonged to the United States. Chief Justice John Marshal met with French agents referred to as “X, Y, & Z.” The men tried to get the USA to bribe them to stop seizing ships. They asked for $250,000.00. This was the X, Y, Z Affair and angered America. In 1798, Congress made a navy department and started ceasing French ships. Eventually, the situation died down through diplomacy.
The USA passed the The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 & 1799 in this era. The Federalists feared foreigners who supported the Democratic Republicans, so they took steps to limit the power of immigrants. The USA was a nation of those who descended from immigrants. Despite this, momentum was gaining to restrict future immigrants. For instance, in Congress, they raised the citizenship requirement to 14 years residency in the USA. They also gave the President power to deport or jail any foreigner considered “undesirable” to the USA. The new laws also allowed people to be arrested for, “…false, scandalous, and malicious statements.” Many felt these laws were unfair and treated immigrants in unnecessary, negative ways.
Kentucky and Virginia did not believe they had to follow these rules because they believed them to be unconstitutional. With the creation of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, the states refused to follow the new laws. This process of refusal is called nullification. This created a debate concerning how the states must cooperate with the Federal Government.