I wanted to ask your opinion on them. I find them interesting since they were passed by the Founding Fathers, and supported by quite a few including Adams and Washington, while they were opposed by Jefferson and others.
Four separate laws constituted what is commonly referred to as the "Alien and Sedition Acts":
The Naturalization Act (officially An Act to Establish a Uniform Rule of Naturalization; ch. 54, 1 Stat. 566) extended the duration of residence required for aliens to become citizens of the United States from five years to fourteen years.
The Alien Act (officially An Act Concerning Aliens; ch. 58, 1 Stat. 570) authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States." It was activated June 25, 1798, with a two year expiration date.
The Alien Enemies Act (officially An Act Respecting Alien Enemies; ch. 66, 1 Stat. 577) authorized the president to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States of America. Enacted July 6, 1798, and providing no sunset provision, the act remains intact today as 50 U.S.C. §§ 21–24. At the time, war was considered likely between the U.S. and France.
The Sedition Act (officially An Act for the Punishment of Certain Crimes against the United States; ch. 74, 1 Stat. 596) made it a crime to publish "false, scandalous, and malicious writing" against the government or its officials. It was enacted July 14, 1798, with an expiration date of March 3, 1801 (the day before Adams' presidential term was to end).
Basically making it illegal to criticize the government. I read about one senator who was against the Sedition Act, and decided to test it by calling President Adams fat, and he was JAILED. I mean think about all the talk about Presidents Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama, and imagine if such a law was still in effect.
I think it's kind of amazing that guys who had just won a war against tyranny a little over ten years before were already passing laws which brought a form of tyranny. You can argue our relations were strained and nearly at war with France in that time but war is no excuse for legal tyranny.