Petition of the Subscribers

"The humble Petition of the Subscribers, Aliens residing in the County of Lancaster, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," January 26, 1802

National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives

When the Federalist Congress passed the laws aimed at aliens in 1798, it feared that immigrants sympathetic to the aims of the French Revolution might bring some of its revolutionary chaos to America. By the time this petition asking for repeal of a naturalization law was presented in 1802, passions had cooled considerably. However, its authors went out of their way to present themselves as productive members of the American community, stressing their loyalty to "your happy Forms of Government." Later that year, Congress repealed the act, re-establishing a 5-year limit that an alien had to wait for citizenship.