The Alien and Sedition Acts were enacted by Federalists fearful of a violent overthrow of the government as French refugees fled to the United States from revolutions in France and Haiti. The acts restricted immigration and made strong criticism of public officials illegal. Several newspaper publishers and writers were imprisoned for seditious writings. Many Americans opposed a federal sedition law, arguing that it violated the Constitution and also unconstitutionally infringed on the right of states to regular free speech through slander laws. This petition to the United States Congress was part of a Republican Party effort to repeal the Alien and Sedition Acts.