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Major Events of John Adams Presidency. Conflict with France XYZ Affair Split in the Federalist Party Alien and Sedition Acts States Rights Election of 1800. Federalist.

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Major Events of John Adams Presidency

  • Conflict with France
  • XYZ Affair
  • Split in the Federalist Party
  • Alien and Sedition Acts
  • States Rights
  • Election of 1800


“It's simply a matter of doing what you do best and not worrying about what the other fellow is going to do.” – John Adams

conflict with france
Conflict with France
  • As soon as Adams took office, he faced the conflict with France.
  • The French did not like Jay’s Treaty and began to seize American ships in the West Indies just like the British had done.
  • To avoid war, Adams sent diplomats to France.
xyz affair
XYZ Affair
  • The French in return sent diplomats to America.
  • XYZ Affair-French attempt to make the United States pay money before discussing French seizure of neutral American ships.
  • Adams told Congress about the proposal but did not name the agents, instead he called them X,Y, and Z.
  • After this, the people were outraged and demanded war with France but Adams refused and wanted to keep the U.S. out of foreign affairs.
    • As a result he built frigates – fast-sailing ships with many guns- to convince France to stop attacking.
federalist split
Federalist Split
  • Federalists, led by Hamilton, criticized Adams because they wanted a war.
    • This would weaken the Republicans, who supported France.
    • Plus, a war would lead to a build up of the military which would increase federal power and was a key goal of the Federalists.
  • Adams resisted pressure for war and instead sent diplomats.
    • The diplomats met the new leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, who wanted to wage war in Europe.
    • He wanted nothing to do with a war with the United States and agreed to stop seizing American ships.
alien and sedition acts
Alien and Sedition Acts
  • Passed in 1798 – domestic policies
  • Alien Act – the President could expel any alien, or foreigner, thought to be dangerous to the country. It also made it harder for immigrants to become citizens (wait 14 years).
  • Sedition Act – citizens could be fined or jailed if they criticized the government or its officials.
  • Republicans protested both of these acts.
states rights
States Rights
  • Jefferson opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts.
  • He urged states to take action against the acts by nullifying (canceling) the law passed by the federal government.
  • Kentucky and Virginia Resolution – claimed each state has a right to judge whether or not a law is constitutional.
  • Raised the issue of states rights (does the state have the power to declare federal law unconstitutional?)
election of 1800
Election of 1800
  • Republicans focused on attacking Federalists and on the Alien and Sedition Acts.
    • Republicans nominated Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr
    • Federalists nominated John Adams
  • Republicans won the popular vote but Jefferson and Burr tied for the electoral college
    • The House of Representatives made the final vote and chose Jefferson as president
    • It also set up the 12th Amendment – the House would determine the presidency if there was no majority of electoral votes
  • Declined the power of Federalists