American democracy has a lineage of written records that we can trace to show the development of our nation, and how each document builds on those before it to make our foundation of freedom stronger. In this edition of America's Documents of Freedom, we look at the documents conceived in the very early years of our republic. Educators from noted American universities share their insights on:The Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) -- French privateers seizing American ships in the Caribbean led President John Adams and the Federalist Congress to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts, designed to deter those who would support activities against the U.S. government. Many saw these acts as contrary to first amendment rights, which led to The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions (1799). Louisiana Purchase (1803) -- This treaty between the United States and the French Republic was a diplomatic and political triumph for President Thomas Jefferson. It ended the threat of war with France and opened up for settlement the land west of the Mississippi - a vast area comprising portions of what would become thirteen states. By any measure, the purchase of the Louisiana Territory was Jefferson's most important action while president.Marbury v. Madison (1803) -- Called by many judicial scholars the most important U.S. Supreme Court decision, it established the principle of judicial review by giving the U.S. Supreme Court the power to examine decisions of other government bodies and to declare them unconstitutional if it found them to be so.Madison's Declaration of War (1812) -- On June 12, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain as a result of long-simmering disputes. Issues included the impressment's of American soldiers by the British and disputes over the Northwest Territories and the border with Canada.The Treaty of Ghent (1814) -- This treaty, signed in Belgium on December 24, ended the War of 1812. News of its signing did not reach American shores until after General Andrew Jackson led the decisive victory in the Battle of New Orleans, which that was thought to have brought the war to a close.Grade Level: 7+. 30 minutes.
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