This chapter focuses on the Alien and Sedition Acts. The present chapter and the previous chapter on the Eleventh Amendment illustrate something generally missed—or misrepresented—about republican constitutional theory in the early republic. The so-called compact theory of the Constitution, the idea that the Constitution represents a compact between the states and the national government, is often presented as having emerged out of the proslavery ideology of the 1830s and viewed in opposition to the (entirely) more reasonable theories of Chief Justice John Marshall. This school of constitutional history places the initial seeds of southern secessionist theory in the naive hands of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who embraced the inflammatory language of states' rights and interposition in their Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. According to this view, compact theory is a post hoc political invention that departs from the original understanding of the Constitution and that arose years after the founding as part of a political effort to displace the Federalist Party in the election of 1800.
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