John Adams Presidency:
Alien and Sedition Acts
8th Grade Humanities
KIPP Impact Middle School
What does the map portray?
What do you know about the Electoral
Based on what you see on the
map, which states have the most
What is the Electoral College
John Adams was the first president elected through the electoral college.
The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers
established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the
president by vote in Congress and election of the President by popular
vote of qualified citizens.
The number of electors per state is based off of the individual states’
populations (= to representation)
When the framers of the Constitution created the Electoral
College, they imagined that the electors would simply chose the
two best leaders for president and vice president. That was how
the nation’s first two presidential elections worked. By the third
election in 1796, however it was clear that political parties had
become part of the electing process.
The Republicans supported Thomas Jefferson for president that
year. His support came mainly from the framers in the South and
The Federalists supported John Adams, who appealed to
lawyers, merchants, ship owners, and business people in the
North. When electoral votes were counted John Adams was
elected president by just three votes. Jefferson came in
second, making him vice president. The nation’s new top leaders
were political leaders from opposing parties.
Alien and Sedition Acts
There were two major acts during his
administration that were signed to
restore domestic tranquility and
preserve the Union, the Acts were
pushed through Congress by the
Federalist Party in 1798.
The goal of the legislation was to tighten
control over immigrants as well as those
who criticized the government.
It permitted the deportation of foreignborn residents and the indictment of
newspaper editors or writers who
published criticism against the
Alien Enemies Act
Specifically the act allowed
arrest, imprisonment and
deportation of any alien
subject to an enemy power.
The Alien Act was for the
expulsion of aliens (noncitizens) considered to be
dangerous to the
During wartime it caused
many immigrants to leave
Described as “An act for the
punishment of certain crimes against
the United States”.
The Act declared ant treasonable activity
as well as “any false, scandalous and
malicious writing” as punishable by
25 Republican newspaper writers were
actually arrested under enforcement of
this law and were forced to shut down.
One of them was actually Benjamin
Americans questions the constitutionality
of the laws and publicly protested over
Was Adams responsible?
Adams played no part in the
forming of the acts and also took
no steps to enforce
them, however he was held
responsible for the unpopular
He did nothing in terms of the Acts
Thomas Jefferson and James
Madison created the Republican
Party’s opposition to the Acts
using the Virginia and Kentucky