What conditions provided the impetus for the Sedition Act? Partisan animosity was strong during Adams's presidency. The first two political parties in the U.S. were in their infancy—the Federalists, to which the majority of members of Congress belonged, and the Democratic-Republicans, led by former vice-president Thomas Jefferson and four-term Congressman James Madison, who had left the House in 1796.
What provisions in the U.S. Constitution are relevant to the debate over the Sedition Act? For this lesson, students will read brief excerpts from actual debates in the House of Representatives as the legislators attempted to work with the version of the bill "Punishment of Crime" (later known as the Sedition Act) already passed by the Senate.
What arguments were offered in support of the Sedition Act? Washington's favorable attitude toward the Sedition Act illustrates that reasonable men in 1798 could support what most modern Americans would regard as an unjust law.
What arguments were put forth in objection to the Sedition Act? Supporters of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison believed the Sedition Act was designed to repress political opposition to President John Adams and the Federalists.