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Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions were passed in opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts by the Kentucky legislature on November 16, 1798, written by Thomas Jefferson and by the Virginia legislature on December 24, 1798 written by James Madison.

The resolutions attacked the Federalists' interpretation of the Constitution, which extended the powers of the national government over the states. The resolutions declared that the Constitution only established an agreement and that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it; should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them would be void. It was the right of the states to decide as to the constitutionality of such acts.

The resolutions were submitted to other states for approval but with no real result. Their importance lies in that they were later considered to be the first statements of the States' Rights theory.