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Monday, October 4, 2010

Virginia & Kentucky Resolutions

Kentucky Resolution
Virginia Resolution
Responses to the resolutions...

25 comments:

jessalves10 said...

I think Jefferson is a little too extreame and doesnt get to the point fast enough. Hes wrote the resolution well, but hes too extreme when he says all powers not gauranteed to the government by the constitution is to be given to the states. Madison's resolution is easier to understand and more to the point. It's easy to see that the government had passed unconstitutional laws because Jefferson has shown quotes to back up his isde of the argument.
The responce to the resolutions seems to be written by someone who would benefit from those unfair acts. Although I don't agree with some of Jefferson's and Madison's ideas like states having more power and a strict interpretation of the constitution, I think the responder is more in the wrong. If the government can pass laws like those, it really isnt a republic anymore. It's like a monarch, like Jefferson says.

cvalenti2 said...

- Sorry if any of my comments are wrong because I had trouble reading and understanding these passages-
In Mr. Jefferson's Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 he quoted from the constitution in several paragraphs, an amendment that stated "the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states, respectively, or to the people," and this was used as support for many of his arguments throughout the resolution. This amendment in the constitution basically says that if a power is not listed in the constitution, nor is it forbidden to be used by the state, then it is allowed to be used by the state or people with in it. Therefore, Jefferson utilizes this amendment several times in the Kentucky resolution to show that acts and laws set in place by congress were not void because the acts (for example paragraph 4 -"An Act Concerning Aliens")were not delegated by the constitution- and Jefferson uses this as his support against the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by the federal government.
In regard to Madison's Virginia Resolution, he also seemed to be in a similar agreement with Jefferson as shown in paragraph 5. This is because Madison says that the recently made acts created by congress were no where near the power delegated by the federal government or rights granted by the constitution which is similar to how Jefferson said that the acts were unconstitutional and void. So, it seems that in both the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jefferson and Madison-(clearly states in second to last paragraph)- both believed that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional and that the commonwealth in Virginia and of Kentucky also declare it to be so.
In addition, the last document basically states all the liberties and essentials of the U.S. and what it takes to maintain a Republican Government, and after reading all of this wiki writing I was really excited to read at the bottom of the response to the resolutions that the senate would testify in apology against the doctrines and acts passed (or at least that is what I think it says).
-In response to Jessica's comment, I agree that Madison's resolution was a lot easier to understand.
~Mr./Coach Pagliaro requested me to ask a question so here it is: What potentially would have happened if Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison did not right these resolutions claiming that the recently passed alien and sedition acts were unconstitutional? Also, in this time period, were there any other resolutions against these acts?

SilentStrike254 said...

When Jefferson wrote of the Kentucky Resolutions, like Jess had said, he just draws out the whole process completely. Jefferson states that if the constitution does not forbid it in some way, then that right is given to the states so handle. This is basically making the central government weak and providing the states with a lot of power. Madison is on the same boat with Jefferson. Both of them believe that the Alien and Sedation acts were unconstitutional. In the response to both of the resolutions, it seems they thought that the senate, although incompetent, had a duty to revise the general government, however not doing a good job for passing the Alien and Sedition Acts. If these laws were passed without much consent and a lot of hatred, we aren't really together with the whole central government, and it is more so just one person ruling over everyone else. (I don't think I was fully accurate, as they were very dense and difficult to read) -Mike Espinell

Psh iitsMichelle said...

Wow these articles were so hard to understand and boring. I agree with Jess though that Madison's response was a lot easier to understand and more concise. Jefferson's response seems like an attack on people who don't view the Constitution with strict interpretation. Madison's response on the other hand has a sense of an apology to it. "That the General Assembly doth also express its deep regret, that a spirit has, in sundry instances, been manifested by the federal government to enlarge its powers" It seems like hes apologizing for the government's mistakes. I dont really understand the third article either but it just seems like it's saying the same thing that the federal government has no right of power to make these acts under the Constitution.

mrowl12345 said...

I agree with Michelle on that these articles were extremely difficult to comprehend. And although it took me a very long time to read these articles i did get some of the messages that Jefferson was trying to convey. It is a fact that Tommy J had a very strict interpretation of the constitution and in the past i have always felt that this was a tad ridiculous and that in certain cases the constitution should be bent. But after reading these passages i am now in better understanding of what Jefferson meant on how the constitution should be interpreted and that if interpreted wrongly the constitution can be swayed to do terrible things, such as the alien and sedation acts. It is in my opinion that the alien and sedation acts were terrible and tyrannical acts that show the flaws when the central Government hold too much power, and i feel that T.J. feels the same way. These acts were so unconstitutional they allowed the government to imprison, deport, and prevent the coming of new immigrants in ways similar to a monarchy. It seems as though in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions T Jeffs goes out of his way to state every single way that the Acts violated the constitution, like Mike and Jess said.

Diana said...

When reading these articles, I also agree with Jess that Madison's response was easier to understand and it had a clearer point on what he was trying to say. When Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolution, you can tell that he is very strict on how the Constitution should be read, which is by following it word by word. Jefferson states, "That the several states composing the United States of America are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by compact, under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes", which means that he feels the states should be governed primarily on the basis and ideas of the Constitution, not by the normal government and their actions, such as passing the Alien and Sedition Acts. Madison and Jefferson both strongly oppose these acts and feels that they are unconstitutional like what Sarah and Mike said. I agree with Michelle that Madison's resolution does sound like he is apologizing for the acts that the federal government had imposed on the citizens and violating the rights of the people and the Constitution. The last article basically sums up Madison's and Jefferson's Resolutions stating how the Alien and Sedition Acts destroy the principles of the union and gave no rights for the people, in which they have gained from the Constitution.

Becky said...

First I wouldlike to say, I know these are boring, but they weren't writing them with the intent of entertaining teenagers 300 years later. Any way I love the part of the Kentucky Resolution when Jefferson says that all he is looking for is "a repeal of the aforesaid unconstitutional and obnoxious acts." This is straight to the point. I think this was right because the first amendment grants freedom of speech and the Sedition and Alien Acts allowsthe governemnt to "venture to reclaim the constitutional rights and liberties of the states and people, or who for other causes, good or bad, may be obnoxious to the view, or marked by the suspicions, of the President, or be thought dangerous to his or their elections, or other interests, public or personal." That's just rediculous just because a President doesn't like what an individual is saying he could deport them. I really like what the kentucky Resolution says and the way it is stated. I don't think the Virginia Resolution makes as much of an impact. It also says that the laws are unconstitutional, but in a much more boring and mundane way. I just really didn't understand what the third article was saying. What I got was that Sente doesnt think state's rights are being violated so they aren't going to do anything, but I don' know how this expresses the veiw of New York...

Krista said...

I personally felt like the Kentucky Resolution sounded like it was not as concerned about the unity of the country as the Virginia Resolution was. I also felt, like many of the others, that Jefferson was far to repetitive but still made the clear point that the federal government did not have the power to pass the Alien and Sedation Acts. The most powerful line in Jefferson's resolution was, " the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press, insomuch that whatever violated either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others" I found this so powerful because it sums up that if one freedom is taken away there's nothing stopping the others from also being revoked, I think that was something Americans greatly feared. When it comes to the Virginia Resolution written by Madison I completely agree with Michelle when she said, "Madison's response on the other hand has a sense of an apology to it". It made me feel that Madison had a better understanding of how important keeping the country united was, that's why he didn't want to make the Virginia resolution to harsh.

amanda said...

First off I love this comment: "I know these are boring, but they weren't writing them with the intent of entertaining teenagers 300 years later." We need to keep this in mind when reading and digesting these articles.

I think the reason why everyone is saying that Jefferson is “extreme” was because he left no loop holes in his words. Sure he drew things out and used details but if you want to be understood you need to do these things. Jefferson used strict interpretation, thus he’d want others to see his words and have no way around it. His ideas were detailed covering all possibilities of someone changing or misinterpreting his concepts. It surprises me that only two states found these laws unconstitutional. I had thought most the states would be on the same wavelength by now and be more able to agree on laws since the constitution was put into play. What’s more surprising to me was that people were upset (“the general government, cannot forbear to express the anxiety and regret with which they observe the inflammatory and pernicious sentiments and doctrines which are contained in the resolutions of the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky”) over Kentucky and Virginia have different views. They had every right to disagree and I had expected the other states to realize their mistake and remove the act.
-amanda

Yazan said...

i agree with amanda, after maybe 150 years in living in co-existance, they had just ratified a constitution in which they pledged to form a new nation. but why did only 2 states find the alien and sedition acts unconstitutional. there must be more forces at play than what the book and these articles present.

jennaaxrae18 said...

Am I the only one that feels like each sentence of these articles goes on for miles? It makes it hard to even get the point across sometimes without losing track of what you're reading. But in all, I'd have to agree with several of you when I say that Madison's was easier to comprehend compared to Jefferson's obvious strict interpretation of the Constitution. I agree with Krista that the Virginia Resolution definitely seemed more concerned about keeping the unity of the United States, rather than the way Jefferson was so set on rules and acts that must be followed by his strict way of looking at things. I apologize for the unusually short length of my response but I had a bit of trouble really getting the gist of these texts, though my fellow classmates' responses have made it more clear.
-Jenna

C.Slotter said...

I agree with everyone who said that Madison's resolution was easier to understand and more to the point, while Jefferson's was more drawn out and exaggerated - but I think that was the point. I like how Jefferson took the time to explain exactly why each of the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional. This was important, because it gave the Americans a better understanding of how their rights were being ignored, and helped them understand exactly what they were agreeing to.
Before reading these resolutions, I thought the states should not have more power, because then the country would not be united. However, I now see that it was important for the states to have some power, because too much government power could "transform the present republican system of the United States, into an absolute, or, at best, a mixed monarchy."

cvalenti2 said...

Jenna- if I ever write a document that I know will last for another 200 years then I'll make it easier to read for some ap student like us :D. Though, I do agree with Becky that they probably weren't considering that some kids would be reading it for a homework assignment 200 years later. P.S. I think this is cool so I have to share- :) I'm posting this from my phone :D brilliant!

matthew said...

After reading what was resolved in the virginia and kentucky resolutions, it amazes me that these were the only two states that were opposed to the clearly unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts which took away rights guarenteed in the Bill of Rights, like freedom of speech for example. I agree to what Yazan said because Jefferson and Hamilton both had strong arguements against them, but were the only two states to come up with these disagreements. I believe that if they were really that bad, then other states would have come up with the same type of idea.

Ross said...

Following suit, i do feel that these documents were particularly hard to read and overall comprehend, but i have also, thanks to these resolutions, been made aware of one of the brilliant advantages to this blog. Which is the simple fact that we can all debate, compare, contrast, and also learn a great deal from each other's comments. With that being said, throughout my years as a student i have never really agreed with Thomas Jefferson in any respect. I believe that a strict interpretation of the Constitution is a completely absurd notion, and also that without the adoption of the Hamiltonian Program and the consequential national debt, that our country would have failed to progress in any way shape or form. But, upon reading his resolution i have found one aspect that me and Thomas Jefferson agree one. In the first section of his Kentucky Resolution he states, and i quote, "whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force; that to this compact each state acceded as a state, and is an integral party; that this government, created by this compact, was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself." Here he plainly states that the Central Government is put in place to work for the unified states of America, and, if the government were to take powers and liberties not granted to it under the rule of the Constitution that the aforementioned states have the right to simply ignore the authority of this government. Now, i found the Virginia Resolution much more clear, concise, and to the point. But, it had no real integral information not states by Thomas Jefferson in his resolution. I also, in agreement with Jessica, believe that the statements the responder made concerning the resolutions were simply ignorant and that without the writing of the Kentucky and Virignia resolutions we very well might have been driven into tyranny by the overwhelming authority of the federal goverment.

BigBri said...

Based on the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, I believe that Jefferson just rambles about the same topic and gets the same point across as madison does(and today we get bad grades on essays if we just ramble on about the same topic, thought I'd metion that). The Virginia Resolution is well written and is much easier to understand than the kentucky Resolution. But all together they both are saying the same thing of that followers argue that the individual states can judge the constitutionality of central government laws, and can refuse to enforce laws deemed unconstitutional. I also would like to know is why the 5th United States Congress would even create the Alien and Sedition Acts, when based on what they did to citizens, when citizens would most likely revolt and put an end to the Acts? Therefore I believe that the Alien and Sedition Acts were useless decrees that never made a difference except forwhen they were being obided by.

smurftastic44 said...

I agree with Sarah, the documents were very hard to comprehend because of the older writing style. That being said, some of my responses may not be accurate.
I agree with Jess, Jefferson was far too extreme and his idea of giving almost all power to the states was radical and would have been ineffective. His belief in a strict interpretation of the Constitution would have led to many problems in America, since it would take away many rights that we have today. However, I do agree with judging people in the state that they are in, rather than judging them in the state they originally came from. I think this is fair, especially since many states have the same general laws, just different punishments for breaking those laws. In the closing Jefferson recaps all of his points, emphasizing his ideas. I found that while it was a bit long-winded, it did help me understand the rest of the Kentucky Resolution.
As many other people said, Madison was much more straightforward with what he was trying to get across to the government. I found that what he wrote was much easier to understand, and Madison’s ideas were much more reasonable.
I admit that I wasn’t quite sure what the person responding to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions was trying to say until I looked over other people’s responses to it. It seems like it was recognizing the states’ complaints, and apologizing for creating the Sedition and Alien Acts.
~Christine Murphy

Jeanette said...

First of all, I agree with what Jenna said about the run-on sentences; that's what makes these so hard to understand.
Jefferson really had a lot to say, huh? I found it refreshing that he called the aliens "friends", because it shows how opposed he is to the Alien Act, and that he accepts them in the American society. I especially like his argument in paragraph 6, as he states that the Constitution does not deprive anyone of liberty, and that goes for aliens as well. (This is an example of how he interprets the Constitution in a strict fashion.)
Madison's Virginia Resolution was very similar to what Jefferson had to say; that the Constitution says we have certain rights, and therefore that cannot be changed. An example that he uses is the "liberty of conscience and the press cannot be cancelled.." This showed Madison's opposition to the Sedition Act; that the people should be allowed to express themselves about the government, or else it is demoralizing.
I agree with Amanda; that it was surprising only two states found these laws unconstitutional, and that they should have similar thoughts on things like this.

Caitlin said...

I was thinking about the same thing that Jeanette pointed out how BIG JEFF called the aliens "friends." I thought that was very appropriate. When you think about it, no one wants to be called an alien. The word makes people totally turned off to foreigners in our country which helps cause a lot of discrimination.
Contrary to what everyone else thought, I found BIG JEFF's resolution easier to comprehend. He would say all of the issues being resolved which is what I wanted to know. At the end of each section he would say the act, what is would normally do, and state how it is now void and without force. I thought the structure was much simpler to understand than Madison's where his just went on and on. Jeffy's has a good format.
I'm not saying I like BIG JEFF's strict interpretation policy because I believe the elastic clause is essential to the constitution in our modern society so do not agree on that aspect. In Madison's resolution, it seemed like he was apologizing for any mistakes the government made, which made it seem more friendly towards the American people to show this kind of sympathy for them. I feel like Madison's resolution was probably liked more by the American people in this regard.

sukhmeetkohli said...

These articles were very hard to read and boring. I found Madison's response a lot easier to read than Jefferson's. I don't agree with Jefferson's strict interpretation on the constitution. I also disagree with the alien and sedition acts because it gave central government too much power, and Jefferson feels the same way and thats why he tries to explain to the states how these acts disobey the constitution.

smurftastic44 said...

In addition to what Jeanette said, I realized that if you look at semi-colons as the end of a sentence, then it helps to break down each section into smaller parts. Once I started using that technique, it was much easier to pick out the main ideas.

mike51095 said...

I strongly agree with what Ross said about how Jefferson's strict interpretation of the constitution is an absurd notion. I believe that with a strict interpretation of the constitution you will never be able to get anything done politically because you will always have some loop hole in the constitution that will prevent you from doing something. In the Kentucky resolution Jefferson frequently quotes the constitution in order to make his point about the alien and sedition acts. Although I do think his points are valid, Jefferson’s frequent quoting of the constitution shows how strict of an interpretation he has of it and this might work against Jefferson since there were so many people in favor of a loose interpretation. A question I have about all three documents is how come before almost every paragraph there is the word “Resolved”. If anyone can clarify this for me it would be very helpful. –Mike Signore

jlchacho said...

Honestly, I found that this was really difficult to understand, and I had to re-read it quite a few times. What I did get out of it was, like many above have mentioned, that Jefferson was very harsh on the Constitution. It seemed almost as though Jefferson was more politically concerned than concerned wholly about the country, as though the Constitution wasn't an importnat part of America's development. I mean, I agree with Mike S. about how Jefferson basically saw it as there are loop holes that will make it almost too difficult to work out in the government. I found that frusturating, because Jefferson is a huge part of US history, but he seems to be putting down the only real structure for stable government in the Us... I have to agree with alot of the people above about how Jeffrerson had quite the strict interpretation of the document, even though I'm still not entirely sure WHY he had such a strict interpretation.
Also, I was curious, too, why all the documents began with "Resolved." I was thinking maybe because they were considering things that could be resolved? But I'm not sure about this, either.

C said...

Jess said (about Jefferson), " hes too extreme when he says all powers not gauranteed to the government by the constitution is to be given to the states." There, he's only quoting the Constitution, so it's not so extreme. He does write with a flourish, though.

I agree with Jeanette and Caitlin on their view of "aliens" vs. "friends." Additionally, Jeanette, you brought up an excellent point in Jefferson's Kentucky Resolution. The Constitution does not deprive anyone of liberty. In our own time, with the Patriot Act and Freedom of Information Act, one may not necessarily agree with that. It would be interesting to see how you all feel about these current acts...Especially with the tactics of the Patriot Act (even when used in relation to citizens): "Title II established three very controversial provisions: "sneak and peek" warrants, roving wiretaps and the ability of the FBI to gain access to documents that reveal the patterns of U.S. citizens."* The Freedom of Information Act works in almost the exact opposite way, but can be used for both legitimate and less scrupulous reasons.**

Finally, JLC, the documents began as "Resolved" because they are all legal resolutions passed by state legislatures. Legal resolutions are defined as "The official expression of the opinion or will of a legislative body." Stating "Resolved..." is a lot easier than stating "It is of the opinion of the legislature of Kentucky that such..."

*See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_PATRIOT_Act#Title_II:_Surveillance_procedures
** See http://epic.org/open_gov/foiagallery.html

C said...

Example of unconstructive commenting: "These articles were very hard to read and boring." That's not saying much at all aside from, "I really didn't understand these documents" or "I don't really understand the context of these documents."