Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions2018-10-27T11:26:25+00:00
Portrait of James Madison.

James Madison secretly authored the Virginia Resolution.

Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions External Links


External Links for Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

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Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript of the Virginia Resolution

Kentucky Resolutions

Transcript of the Kentucky Resolutions

Kentucky Resolution, Thomas Jefferson's Rough Draft

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

The Kentucky Resolutions of 1798

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

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

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

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.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions External Links
  • Coverage 1798–1799
  • Author
  • Keywords virginia and kentucky resolutions, thomas jefferson, james madison
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date June 26, 2019
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update October 27, 2018

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