North American Immigration
Naturalization Act (United States) (1802)
When Thomas Jefferson became president, there was a relaxation of the hostility toward immigrants that had prevailed during the administration of John Adams (1797–1801). The Alien and Sedition Acts
were repealed or allowed to expire, and Jefferson campaigned for a more lenient naturalization law, observing that, under the “ordinary chances of human life, a denial of citizenship, under a residence of fourteen years, is a denial to a great proportion of those who ask it.” On April 14, 1802, a new naturalization measure was enacted, reducing the period of residence required for naturalization from 14 to five years. In addition, the new law required that prospective citizens give three years’ notice of intent to renounce previous citizenship, swear or affirm support of the Constitution, renounce all titles of nobility, and demonstrate themselves to be of “good moral character.” The Naturalization Act was supplemented on March 26, 1804, by exempting aliens who had entered the United States between 1798 and 1802 from the declaration of intention. The threeyear notice was reduced to two years on May 26, 1824.