Question 2 - Problems

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by oliviagriffin98
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Social Studies
American History

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Question 2 - Problems

Problems During the Presidencies

ReactionsThe French and British at war brought turmoil to America. Most people felt that since France helped them throughout the war, they should repay them by taking their side. Washington’s reaction to this was very unpopular. He felt that the United States should remain neutral throughout this period of time. He therefore created the Proclamation of Neutrality. This was a formal announcement issued in May of 1793, declaring the nation would take a neutral position in the conflict between France and Great Britain. Because of Washington’s feeling about keeping the United States neutral, he reacted by signing Jay’s Treaty, which was created to keep peace between Great Britain and America.

What could have been done differently?In regards to the war between France and Great Britain, George Washington could have taken into consideration the opinions of his fellow citizens more than he did. France was an enormous ally to the colonists during the Revolutionary War and the outcome could have been significantly different without Frances’ presence. Washington should have looked at the situation from their perspective more than he did. On the other hand, the Proclamation of Neutrality was created keeping peace and trade open with both countries which was very clever on George Washington’s part. Although it did upset citizens, it settled issues with Britain which the United States had never accomplished lasting ten years.

Problems During PresidencyIn 1797, when Washington refused a third presidential term John Adams, an intelligent, patriotic, opinionated and blunt man, was elected to the office. Although Adams was a Federalist, a firm believer in a strong central government, he was an independent thinker. This quality put him at odds with many of his fellow party members. When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States. The neutrality of the United States strained relations with France and Britain. In an attempt to make amends, Adams sent three commissioners to France. However, in the spring of 1798 word arrived that the French Foreign Minister, Charles Talleyrand, and the Directory had refused to settle the dispute unless they would first pay a substantial amount of money. Adams reported the insult to Congress, and the Senate printed the correspondence in which the Frenchmen were referred to only as "X, Y, and Z." This became known as the XYZ Affair, a political and diplomatic episode that occurred between 1797 and 1798. This was one of Adams’ main struggles during his presidency. As a result of the XYZ Affair, the Federalists began to align with the British and the Democratic- Republicans began to align with the French. The separation of these political factions led to an undeclared war called the Quasi-War. Later a series of laws, known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, were passed by Congress in 1798 and signed as law by John Adams. The first of these four laws was the Naturalization Act, which mandated that foreigners who wanted to become citizens live in the United States for at least fourteen years. Second, the Alien Friends Act allowed the President to arrest and deport any person in the United States that was considered a threat. The Alien Enemies Act allowed the President of the United States to arrest and deport anyone who was living in the United States that was from another country in which we were at war. Last, the Sedition Act was a law that made it illegal for anyone to write anything negative about the government or anyone who had a government position.

Problems During Presidency George Washington took the oath of office April 30, 1789. A major issue during Washington's presidency was his struggle to get along with his vice president, John Adams, who was very opinionated about many issues. Additionally, the French Revolution was well-advanced at this point. The French was at war with the British; however the United States remained neutral during this time. Washington wanted to maintain peace with both countries although many people thought Washington actually favored the British. This caused a conflict because many Americans felt like the United States was betraying France since they had helped the Colonists during the American Revolution. On the other hand, the Colonists remained upset because Jay’s Treaty was ratified. On November 19, 1794, representatives of the United States and Great Britain signed Jay’s Treaty, which would put an end to the superior issues between the two countries that had been left unsettled since American independence. Jay’s Treaty was very unpopular with the American public; nevertheless, it did accomplish the goal of maintaining peace between the two nations and conserving U.S. neutrality.

Problems During Presidency?Thomas Jefferson was the first United States president to introduce the idea of a formal Indian Removal plan. Jefferson first tried to persuade Indians to adopt agriculture; the Indians were encouraged to sell their uncultivated land for 25 cents per acre. Additionally, Jefferson increased the number of government trading houses located near Native Indian villages announcing publicly that the establishments “allowed Indians to share in the fruits of white civilization." This was actually a scheme, however, because his real motive that he later confessed in 1803 was to lure Indians into spending themselves into debt and their burdens would be paid off by selling their tribal lands. Regarding foreign affairs, the major struggle dealing with Jefferson was the embargo against trade with both Great Britain and France and worsening relations with Britain as the United States tried to remain neutral throughout the Napoleonic Wars that consumed Europe. Although Jefferson did double the size of the United States, his decision to implement trade embargo against Great Britain and France had many negative effects. The neutrality of the United States was tested during the Napoleonic Wars because both Britain and France enforced trade restrictions in expectation of weakening one another’s economies. This direct effect was disruption of American trade and tested the United States' neutrality. As time went on, harassment by the British of American ships increased until finally Jefferson was faced with a decision to make regarding the situation at hand. Finally he chose an economic option which was the Embargo Act of 1807. The premise of the Embargo Act was to pressure England and France into treating the United States with more equality by preventing any American exports from going to France and Great Britain. Jefferson thought he could “strong-arm” them into ending their restrictions on American goods. Unfortunately, the whole plan backfired as Americans lost out on opportunities for international trade.

ReactionThomas Jefferson found the Indian culture extremely fascinating and spent much time studying different things about them. Jefferson’s attempt to take as much land as possible, however, was very selfish and did cause many conflicts with the Indians. Jefferson’s reaction to wanting to acquire more land resulted in creating a scheme to force the Indians out of their land. Additionally, Thomas Jefferson’s reaction to the Napoleonic Wars had a huge negative impact on the United States. His decision to prohibit American ships from trading in all foreign ports through the enforcement of the Embargo Act cause many conflicts for people in the United States. For example, the act caused a decrease in American exports, producers and merchants could not receive an income from their raw materials anymore, and many sailors lost their jobs.

What could have been done differently?Although Adams did attempt to make peace with the French, he should not have signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts caused much controversy due to the expression of free speech being stripped away causing political dissent and discussion in America. Adams could have found a better way to make peace with the citizens of his country without restricting their personal freedoms. The Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional. Although understandable as to why they were passed at this time, the Acts removed rights in the Constitution. Adams should have just ignored criticism of the government and continued doing what was best for this country. If a person became a national threat or was from a country the United States was at war with, they should be questioned or arrested, not automatically deported.

ReactionsJohn Adams’ reaction to the French and British was almost the same as George Washington’s thinking. Adams urged peace and for the army and navy to remain neutral. Due to the influence of the French Revolution, Congress passed and John Adams signed what came to be known as the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Alien and Sedition Acts were considered the most irrational and unconstitutional laws ever passed. These acts increased the residency requirement for American citizenship from five to fourteen years, authorized the President to imprison or deport aliens considered "dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States" and restricted speech critical of the government. These laws were designed to silence and weaken the Democratic-Republican Party. Many citizens were upset by these laws because they thought the laws were unfair and not like what the new United States of America was becoming. The people claimed that the laws violated the First Amendment and Tenth Amendments.

What could have been done differently?In regard to Indian conflict, Jefferson could have formed a better plan to acquire the lands desired. He should have offered the Indians a reasonable amount of money for their lands, rather than scamming them. Also, his decision to pass the Embargo Act was not well thought out. Jefferson could have tried sending ambassadors like Adams did to try to promote peace with both countries instead of cutting off all international trade. Then if making amends through ambassadors failed, he then could have considered alternative measures.

Thomas Jefferson

John Adams

George Washington


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