When in American history was it a crime to criticize the president?

It was during the second half of John Adams’s administration, which has become known as the Federalist Reign of Terror, that it a crime to criticize the president.

Under the Alien and Sedition Acts, it became a crime to criticize the president or the government.

It got so bad that his vice president, Thomas Jefferson, stopped signing his letters, correctly assuming that government agents were reading his mail.

More than twenty newspaper editors and a member of the House of Representatives were jailed.

Representative Matthew Lyon got four months in jail and a $1,000 fine for writing an editorial in a Vermont newspaper; his constituents re-elected him while he was in jail and paid his fine.

The law finally expired after Jefferson became president.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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