Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions


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Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions,

in U.S. history, resolutions passed in opposition to the Alien and Sedition ActsAlien and Sedition Acts,
1798, four laws enacted by the Federalist-controlled U.S. Congress, allegedly in response to the hostile actions of the French Revolutionary government on the seas and in the councils of diplomacy (see XYZ Affair), but actually designed to destroy Thomas
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, which were enacted by the Federalists in 1798. The Jeffersonian Republicans first replied in the Kentucky Resolutions, adopted by the Kentucky legislature in Nov., 1798. Written by Thomas Jefferson himself, they were a severe attack on the Federalists' broad interpretation of the Constitution, which would have extended the powers of the national government over the states. The resolutions declared that the Constitution merely established a compact between the states and that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it under the terms of the compact; should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them would be unauthoritative and therefore void. It was the right of the states and not the federal government to decide as to the constitutionality of such acts. A further resolution, adopted in Feb., 1799, provided a means by which the states could enforce their decisions by formal nullification of the objectionable laws. A similar set of resolutions was adopted in Virginia in Dec., 1798, but these Virginia Resolutions, written by James Madison, were a somewhat milder expression of the strict construction of the Constitution and the compact theory of the Union. The resolutions were submitted to the other states for approval with no real result; their chief importance lies in the fact that they were later considered to be the first notable statements of the states' rightsstates' rights,
in U.S. history, doctrine based on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, "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.
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 theory of government, a theory that opened the way for the nullificationnullification,
in U.S. history, a doctrine expounded by the advocates of extreme states' rights. It held that states have the right to declare null and void any federal law that they deem unconstitutional.
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 controversy and ultimately for secessionsecession,
in political science, formal withdrawal from an association by a group discontented with the actions or decisions of that association. The term is generally used to refer to withdrawal from a political entity; such withdrawal usually occurs when a territory or state
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.

Bibliography

See E. D. Warfield, The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 (1887, repr. 1969); J. C. Miller, Crisis in Freedom (1951, repr. 1964).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Nowhere is the concept and application of nullification more firmly secured to sure footings of constitutionality and morality than in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799.
The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were terse statements written in 1798 and 1799 proposing the proper response by states to the passage by the federal government of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
After their distribution among the various state governments, it was revealed that the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were in truth the product of a collaboration by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
However, conspicuously absent from the list of universally revered charters are Thomas Jefferson's and James Madison's Kentucky and Virginia resolutions. For their lucid reasoning and peerless prose, they merit inclusion as much as the Constitution itself.
Though much has changed since Jefferson and Madison penned the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions, the nature of power remains the same--power can be checked only by power.
The state responses to the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions disappointed the Republicans.
They treat enumerated and implied powers; checks and balances; delegated powers; economic rights and powers; claims of sexual and reproductive autonomy; and the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. Proceeding topically, rather than chronologically, Moore's presentation analyzes the text of the Constitution, court cases, and the writings of Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson.
In supporting this view, he melds together lessons from the concept of delegated government, reserve rights under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and the analysis of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions condemning the Alien and Sedition Acts to argue that "[c]onstitutional theory and practice should.., embrace the core principle of state interpretative autonomy..." (274).
The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, along with drafts and responses to them, are especially valuable because they demonstrate how problems of interpretive authority cut across other forms of normative disagreement.
Ten of the existing sixteen states' legislatures formally or informally rejected the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798.(33) Seven states responded directly by returning formal resolutions.
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