French ships began attacking American merchant ships to stop them from trading with the British, their enemies. The French looted up the 300 ships.
John Adams sent Charles Pinckney, Elbridge Gerry, and John Marshall to Paris to talk to the French minister of foreign affairs. These 3 French agents later named x, y, and x rejected them unless they paid $10 million and the minister a bribe of $250,000.
Pay us if you want to see the French Minister of foreign affairs.
John Adams received news of the affair and did not want to pay that much to just get a meeting without certainty they will listen. John Adams canceled treaties with France and allowed U.S ships to seize French vessels.
The conflict with France made Adams and the Federalists popular with the public. Many Democratic-Republicans, however, were sympathetic to France. One Democratic-Republican newspaper called Adams “the blasted tyrant of America.” John Adams was angry from the criticism. To silence their critics, the Federalist Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798.
blasted tyrant of America
The Alien and Sedition acts banned saying or writing anything false or harmful about the government. With these acts, the Federalists clamped down on freedom of speech and the press. About 25 Democratic-Republican newspaper editors were charged and 10 were convicted of expressing opinions damaging to the government. Matthew Lyon was locked up for saying that the president should be sent “to a madhouse.”
No more press for you.
The Democratic-Republicans looked for a way to fight the Alien and Sedition Acts. In a theory called States' Rights, it stated states had rights that the federal government could not violate. In the Virginia Resolutions, Madison said a state could place itself between the federal government and its citizens. These resolutions declared that the Alien and Sedition Acts violated the Constitution. Within two years, the Democratic-Republicans won control of Congress, and they either repealed the Acts or let them expire between 1800 and 1802.
Down with Adams!! Thomas Jefferson for president!!
We have rights in a theory called states’ rights!!
States have rights that the federal government can't violate!!