In the last two years of the 18th Century, the new country of America faced threats to its shipping by pirates, threats to its trade from tariffs, occupied forts on its frontier, and the possibility of a war with revolutionary France. President John Adams wanted to be prepared to fight but preferred a diplomatic approach. War hawks in his emerging Federalist Party were eager for war and seemed equally intent on crushing domestic opposition from Jefferson's Republicans. In 1798, the Federalist Congress passed four laws that became to be called The Alien and Sedition Acts. These measures became a source of domestic turmoil and an example of runaway partisanship. They eventually changed the course of history.
Richard Jay Arthur, M.A., is a native of Pittsburgh. A 23-year veteran Army
officer, he has a lifelong interest in history with particular focus on the American
Colonial period. He has given talks on the Founding Fathers and the Continental
Army and lectured on the role of Pennsylvanians on the planning and actions of
D-Day, including stories based on interviews with participants. A website features
stories from his Butler County youth at www.butlercountyboyhood.com. He earned his
bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College, and his master’s from George Washington
University. He and his wife, Mary Lou, live in rural Erie County, where they operate
Winter’s End, an environment that supports bees and butterflies.