Reclaiming the American Revolution: The Kentucky and Virgina Resolutions and Their Legacy

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Reclaiming the American Revolution examines the struggles for political ascendancy between Federalists and the Republicans in the early days of the American Republic. Watkins views the struggle through the lens of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, charters written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison respectively, that were responses to the Alien and Sedition Acts passed by Federalists that, among other things, made criticism of the federal government a crime. Viewing those acts as a threat to states' rights, as well as indicative of a national government that sought supreme power, the Resolutions restated the principles of the American Revolution and sought to return the nation to the tenets of the Constitution, in which rights for all were protected by checking the power of the national government.