Naturalization Act of 1798
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The Naturalization Act, passed by Congress on June 18, 1798 (1 Stat. 566), increased the amount of time necessary for immigrants to become naturalized citizens in the United States from five to fourteen years. Although it was passed under the guise of protecting national security, most historians conclude it was really intended to decrease the number of voters who disagreed with the Federalist political party. At the time, most immigrants (namely Irish and French) supported Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, the political opponents of the Federalists. This act was repealed in 1802 by the Naturalization Law of 1802.
A number of changes were made to the previous naturalization law:
|Act||Naturalization Act of 1790||Naturalization Act of 1795||Naturalization Act of 1798|
|Notice time||no notice required||3 years||5 years|
|Residence period||2 years||5 years||3 years|
The "notice time" refers to how long immigrants had to wait after declaring their intent to become a citizen. The "residence period" refers to how long they had to live in the United States before they could become a citizen. The Naturalization Act is considered one of the Alien and Sedition Acts passed contemporaneously in 1798. Like the Naturalization Acts of 1790 and 1795, this act also restricted citizenship to "free white persons".
Note the recognition of the distinction between native, citizen, denizen, or subject of any nation or state within the act. This act is the first to record immigration, maintain records of residence, and make certificates of residence for white immigrant aliens, for the purpose of establishing the date of arrival for subsequent qualification for naturalization.