Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (1798-1799) (1798-1799)

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (or Resolves), also known as the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, were passed by the state legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia in response to the Alien and Sedition Acts enacted by Congress in 1798. Secretly written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the resolutions challenged the Alien and Sedition Acts on the grounds that they went beyond the powers specifically given to the federal government by the U.S. Constitution. The resolutions introduced the idea that individual states could declare federal legislation null and void when such legislation went beyond the powers given to the federal government when the states joined together to form a compact. Although all of the other states rejected Kentucky and Virginia's call to join their challenge of federal authority at the time, the concept of nullification was invoked in later disputes involving states rights, most notably those centered on the issue of slavery.

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Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Source: Absolute Astronomy.com

The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (or Resolves) were important political statements in favor of states' rights written secretly by Vice President Thomas Jefferson ,who would later become president, and James Madison in 1798, respectively. They were passed by the two states in opposition to the federal Alien and Sedition Acts. 

Acts, Bills, and Laws, 1798: Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

Source: u-s-history.com

Since Congress was firmly controlled by the Federalists, the fight against the Alien and Sedition Acts moved to the state legislatures in late 1798. James Madisonprepared the Virginia Resolutions and Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions. Both followed a similar argument: The states had the duty to nullify within their borders those laws that were unconstitutional.

Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Source: Infoplease.com

Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, in U.S. history, resolutions passed in opposition to theAlien and Sedition Acts, 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.

Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

Source: Answers.com

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 raised the question of states rights' andnullification. They were drafted in response to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 but were concerned with a larger and more deep-rooted problem. How was power to be divided between the federal government and the states, and who was to settle disputes between the two?

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions: A Constitutional Argument Regarding the Role of the States

Source: suite101.com

When the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed there were many who supported the actions of John Adams administration while others were profoundly opposed to the measures. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were among those who found the acts egregious. They undertook to write responses for the states of Virginia and Kentucky. In Kentucky Thomas Jefferson’s resolve was sponsored by John Breckenridge, in Virginia Madison’s was sponsored by John Taylor. In both cases the authorship was secret to the public.

Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

Source: History.com

Resolutions adopted in 1798 by the legislatures of Kentucky and Virginia to protest the enactment by the federal government of the ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS, (q.v.). The Kentucky Resolutions, drafted by then Vice-President Thomas Jefferson, argued that the government was formed by a compact among the states and that the federal powers were limited to those delegated to it in the Constitution. In addition, the validity of laws passed by the government under supposedly unauthorized powers should be determined by the members of the compact, the states. Another resolution, passed by the Kentucky legislature in 1799, called for a formal nullification by the states of any law deemed objectionable.

Virginia Resolution

Source: The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy

Transcript of the Virginia Resolution 

Kentucky Resolutions

Source: The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy

Transcript of the Kentucky Resolutions

Kentucky Resolution, Thomas Jefferson's Rough Draft

Source: The Library of Congress

Transcript of the Kentucky Resolutions, written by Thomas Jefferson, dated November 16, 1798

The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798

Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Princeton University

For all the significance of the Kentucky Resolutions, Jefferson's papers reveal little about their composition. This is due in part to his caution about what he revealed in his letters at the time he wrote the resolutions. Too, for the remainder of his life he showed little interest in avowing or explaining his original authorship of the document. He did not seem displeased with the changes made to the resolutions after they left his hands and was content to have the attribution of authorship lie elsewhere.

The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions: Guideposts of Limited Government

Source: constitution.org

Hoary and forgotten by most, the Resolves mark the path to limited government. 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 Resolves point to the states as the natural depository of the power to check the national government.

Kentucky Resolutions Redux

Source: Tenth Amendment Center

For those history buffs out there, Kentucky was at the forefront in asserting the principles of State Sovereignty in the early days of the Republic. The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 took what some consider to be the strongest position on this issue in our history.For those history buffs out there, Kentucky was at the forefront in asserting the principles of State Sovereignty in the early days of the Republic. The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 took what some consider to be the strongest position on this issue in our history.

Virginia and Kentucky Resolves

Source: law.jrank.org

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolves were expressions of opposition by the Jeffersonian Republicans against the Federalist-sponsored Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. Besides opposing these particular measures, the legislative resolutions proposed a "compact" theory of the U.S. Constitution that contended that state legislatures possessed all powers not specifically granted to the federal government and gave the states the right to rule upon the constitutionality of federal legislation. The resolutions became the basis for nineteenth-century STATES' RIGHTS doctrines, which were employed by Southern states to defend the institution of SLAVERY.

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