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Editors Imprisoned Under Alien And Sedition Acts


A U.S. peace treaty with Britain angers France, which strikes back by seizing U.S. ships. On the verge of war, the Federalist-controlled Congress enacts four bills collectively known as the Alien and Sedition Acts to silence pro-French sentiment in the U.S. These acts make it a crime to criticize the federal government and its policies. Under this law, critical newspaper publishers are convicted and imprisoned. In 1800, the Democratic-Republicans win the presidency and majorities in Congress. The new majority lets the Sedition Act expire, and President Thomas Jefferson pardons all those who had been convicted under it.