Thomas Jefferson and Defiance to Tyrants: An Anniversary worth Celebrating
Most Americans know that Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of “The Declaration of Independence.” Yet few of them have ever even heard of another document that I would say might be the second most important one he ever wrote – The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, which were adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly on November 10, 1798.
Jefferson drafted these resolutions – in secret – while he was serving as vice president. It was written in response to the hated Alien and Sedition Acts which were passed under the John Adams administration.
The acts authorized the president to deport any resident alien considered “dangerous to the peace and safety” of the United States, to apprehend and deport resident aliens if their home countries were at war with the United States, and criminalized any speech which might “defame” Congress, the President, or bring either of them into “contempt or disrepute.”
Interestingly enough, while it was illegal to, in essence, speak out against the president, congress and the federal government in general, it was not illegal to do so towards the opposition, in this case the sitting vice-president, a Mr. Thomas Jefferson.
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