This Day in History: Kentucky Resolutions Passed on Nov. 10, 1798

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Would the proposed Constitution create the limited federal government promised?

That was the central question facing the ratifying conventions as America considered adopting the new Constitution. Those in favor of ratification swore it would. But many remained skeptical, arguing that the new general government would undoubtedly try to expand its power and that the Constitution would not sufficiently restrain it.

It only took a decade for the federal government to prove the anti-federalists right.

During the summer of 1798, Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law, four acts together known as the Alien and Sedition Acts. With winds of war blowing across the Atlantic, the Federalist Party majority wrote the laws to prevent “seditious” acts from weakening the U.S. government. Federalists utilized fear of the French to stir up support for these draconian laws, expanding federal power, concentrating authority in the executive branch and severely restricting freedom ...