Study Guide

Theodore Sedgwick in Alien and Sedition Acts

By Congress

Theodore Sedgwick

You know the one person in school who just has to serve in some office? Class president, treasurer, whatever? And they have a million extracurriculars and have a title for each one?

That was Theodore Sedgwick.

Sedgwick was the President pro tempore of the Senate—that's the leader of majority party of the Senate—when the Alien and Sedition Acts were made into law. He's fourth in line of succession too, meaning if the President, Vice President, and Speaker of the House all die in the same tragic go-cart accident, the President pro tempore (that's pronounced "pro-tem") of the Senate, gets to be leader of the free world.

Sedgwick is one of three people who signed the laws. As leader of the Federalists in the Senate, it's unlikely the Alien and Sedition Acts would have been passed without him.

If there was an important political job in the late 18th century in America, Sedgwick probably held it. He served in the Continental Army and later, his political career jumped back and forth between the House of Representatives and the Senate. He led both bodies at different times, too.

He lived a long life, never retiring from public service. Up until the day he died, he was serving on Massachusetts' Supreme Court. He probably would have liked to keel over right after hitting his gavel, but unfortunately life is seldom like a Will Ferrell movie.

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