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Encyclopedia > Know Nothing
American Party (Official)
Years active 1845 - 1860
Political Ideology Nativism
Political Position N/A
International Affiliation None
Preceded by Whig Party
Native American Party
Succeeded by Republican Party
Colors N/A
See also Politics of the U.S.

Political parties
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Fillmore/Donelson campaign poster
Fillmore/Donelson campaign poster

The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to American values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854–56, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery, most often joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election.[1][2] Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (896x1988, 538 KB) 1856 US political poster for American (Known Nothing) party; Source: scanned from paper copy This image is in the public domain in the United States. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (896x1988, 538 KB) 1856 US political poster for American (Known Nothing) party; Source: scanned from paper copy This image is in the public domain in the United States. ... The term Nativism is used in both politics and psychology in two fundamentally different ways. ... // Production of steel revolutionized by invention of the Bessemer process Benjamin Silliman fractionates petroleum by distillation for the first time First transatlantic telegraph cable laid First safety elevator installed by Elisha Otis Railroads begin to supplant canals in the United States as a primary means of transporting goods. ... For other uses, see Pope (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Rome (disambiguation). ... A judge swears in a new citizen. ... The Republican Party of the United States was established in 1854 and is one of the two dominant parties today. ... The United States presidential election of 1860 set the stage for the American Civil War. ...


The movement originated in New York in 1843 as the American Republican Party. It spread to other states as the Native American Party and became a national party in 1845. In 1855 it renamed itself the American Party. The origin of the "Know Nothing" term was in the semi-secret organization of the party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, "I know nothing." The American Republican Party was a minor nativist political organization that was launched in New York in June, 1843, largely as a protest against immigrant voters and officeholders. ...

Contents

History

The immigration of large numbers of Irish and German Catholics to the U.S. in the 1830–60 period made religious differences between Catholics and Protestants a political issue. The tensions echoed European conflicts between Catholics and Protestants. Violence occasionally erupted over elections. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest religious denomination of Christianity with over one billion members. ...


Although Catholics asserted that they were politically independent of priests, Protestants alleged that Pope Pius IX had put down the failed liberal Revolutions of 1848 and that he was an opponent of liberty, democracy and Protestantism. These concerns encouraged conspiracy theories regarding the Pope's purported plans to subjugate the United States through a continuing influx of Catholics controlled by Irish bishops obedient to and personally selected by the Pope. In 1849, an oath-bound secret society, The Order of the Star Spangled Banner, was created by Charles Allen in New York City. It became the nucleus of some units of the American Party. The Blessed Pope Pius IX, born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, ( May 13, 1792 – February 7, 1878) was pope for a record pontificate of over 31 years, from June 16, 1846 until his death. ... The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations or the Year of Revolution, were a revolutionary wave which erupted in Sicily and then, further triggered by the revolutions of 1848 in France, soon spread to the rest of Europe and as far afield as... A conspiracy theory is a theory that defies common historical or current understanding of events, under the claim that those events are the result of manipulations by two or more individuals or various secretive powers or conspiracies. ... For the Europe album, see Secret Society (Europe album). ... The Order of the Star Spangled Banner was an oath-bound secret society in New York City. ... Charles Allen can refer to: Charles Allen (athlete) (b. ... New York, New York and NYC redirect here. ...


Fear of Catholic immigration led to a dissatisfaction with the Democratic party, whose prominent membership included many Irish-American Catholics. Activists formed secret groups, coordinating their votes and throwing their weight behind candidates sympathetic to their cause. When asked about these secret organizations, members were to reply "I know nothing," which led to their popularly being called Know Nothings. This movement won elections in major cities from Chicago to Boston in 1855, and carried the Massachusetts legislature and governorship. For other uses, see Chicago (disambiguation). ... Nickname: City on the Hill, Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe)1, Athens of America, The Cradle of Revolution, Puritan City, Americas Walking City Location in Massachusetts, USA Counties Suffolk County Mayor Thomas M. Menino(D) Area    - City 232. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ...


In spring 1854, the Know Nothings carried Boston, Salem, and other New England cities. They swept the state of Massachusetts in the fall 1854 elections — their biggest victory. The Whig candidate in Philadelphia was editor Robert Conrad, soon revealed as a Know Nothing; he promised to crack down on crime, close saloons on Sundays, and to appoint only native-born Americans to office. He won by a landslide. In Washington, D.C., Know-Nothing candidate John T. Towers defeated incumbent Mayor John Walker Maury, causing opposition of such proportion that the Democrats, Whigs, and Freesoilers in the capital united as the "Anti-Know-Nothing Party." In New York, in a four-way race, the Know Nothing candidate ran third with 26 percent. After the fall 1854 elections, they claimed to have exerted decisive influence in Maine, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and California, but historians are unsure due to the secrecy, as all parties were in turmoil and the anti-slavery and prohibition issues overlapped with nativism in complex and confusing ways. They did elect the Mayor of San Francisco, Stephen P. Webb, and J. Neely Johnson as Governor of California. They were still an unofficial movement with no centralized organization. The results of the 1854 elections were so favorable to the Know Nothings that they formed officially as a political party called the American Party, and attracted many members of the now nearly-defunct Whig party[1], as well as a significant number of Democrats and prohibitionists. Membership in the American Party increased dramatically, from 50,000 to an estimated one million plus in a matter of months during that year. The same member might also split tickets to vote for Democrats or Republicans, for party loyalty was in confusion. Simultaneously, the new Republican party emerged as a dominant power in many northern states. Very few prominent politicians joined the American Party, and very few party leaders had a subsequent career in politics. The major exceptions were Schuyler Colfax in Indiana and Henry Wilson in Massachusetts, both of whom became Republicans and were elected Vice President. A historian of the party concludes: Nickname: Location in Essex County in Massachusetts Coordinates: , Country State County Essex Settled 1626 Incorporated 1626 A City 1836 Government  - Type Mayor-council city  - Mayor Kimberley Driscoll Area  - Total 18. ... This article is about the region in the United States of America. ... The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. ... For other uses, see Philadelphia (disambiguation) and Philly. ... For other uses, see Washington, D.C. (disambiguation). ... John T. Towers John Thomas Towers (1811-1857) was Superintendent of printing at the U.S. Capitol and Mayor of Washington City, District of Columbia, from 1854 to 1856. ... List of mayors for Washington, D.C. The cities of Washington and Georgetown also had mayors from 1802-1871. ... John Walker Maury John Walker Maury (1809-1855) was Mayor of Washington, D.C. for one two-year term, from 1852 to 1854. ... The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States active in the 1848 and 1852 presidential elections, and in some state elections. ... This article is about the state. ... Official language(s) None (English and French de facto) Capital Augusta Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 39th  - Total 33,414 sq mi (86,542 km²)  - Width 210 miles (338 km)  - Length 320 miles (515 km)  - % water 13. ... For other uses, see Indiana (disambiguation). ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... Prohibition redirects here. ... The Mayor of San Francisco is the head of the government of San Francisco, California. ... John Neely Johnson (August 2, 1825–August 31, 1872) (some sources have his first name as James) was a U.S. political figure. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... For other persons named Henry Wilson, see Henry Wilson (disambiguation). ... The Vice President of the United States[1] (sometimes referred to as VPOTUS[2] or Veep) is the first in the presidential line of succession, becoming the new President of the United States upon the death, resignation, or removal of the president. ...

The key to Know Nothing success in 1854 was the collapse of the second party system, brought about primarily by the demise of the Whig party. The Whig party, weakened for years by internal dissent and chronic factionalism, was nearly destroyed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Growing anti-party sentiment, fueled by anti-slavery as well as temperance and nativism, also contributed to the disintegration of the party system. The collapsing second party system gave the Know Nothings a much larger pool of potential converts than was available to previous nativist organizations, allowing the Order to succeed where older nativist groups had failed. The Second Party System is the term historians give to the political system existing in the United States from about 1824 to 1854. ... This 1856 map shows slave states (grey), free states (red), and US territories (green) with Kansas in center (white). ...

Tyler G. Anbinder, Nativism and Slavery, p. 95

In 1854, members of the American Party allegedly stole and destroyed the block of granite contributed by Pope Pius IX for the Washington Monument. They also took over the monument's building society and controlled it for four years. What little progress occurred in their tenure had to be undone and remade. For the full story, see Washington Monument: History. Pope Pius IX (May 13, 1792 – February 7, 1878), born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, reigned as Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from his election in June 16, 1846, until his death more than 31 years later in 1878. ... This article is about the monument in Washington, D.C. For other monuments dedicated to George Washington, see Washington Monuments (world). ... This article is about the monument in Washington, D.C. For other monuments dedicated to George Washington, see Washington Monuments (world). ...


In California in 1854 Sam Roberts founded a Know-Nothing chapter in San Francisco. The group was formed in opposition to Chinese and Chilean immigrants as well as Irish who had come to work in gold mines.


In spring 1855, Levi Boone was elected Mayor of Chicago for the Know Nothings. He barred all immigrants from city jobs. Statewide, however, Republican Abraham Lincoln blocked the party from any successes. Ohio was the only state where the party gained strength in 1855. Their Ohio success seems to have come from winning over immigrants, especially German Lutherans and Scottish Presbyterians who feared Catholicism. In Alabama, the Know Nothings were a mix of former Whigs, malcontented Democrats, and other political outsiders who favored state aid to build more railroads. In the tempestuous 1855 campaign, the Democrats won by convincing state voters that Alabama Know Nothings would not protect slavery from Northern abolitionists. Levi Day Boone (born: December 6, 1808 in Kentucky; died: January 24, 1882; buried in Rosehill Cemetary) served as mayor of Chicago, Illinois (1855-1856) on the Know-Nothing Party. ... Richard M. Daley is the current mayor of Chicago. ... For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation). ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... The Lutheran movement is a group of denominations of Protestant Christianity by the original definition. ... Presbyterianism is part of the Reformed churches family of denominations of Christian Protestantism based on the teachings of John Calvin which traces its institutional roots to the Scottish Reformation, especially as led by John Knox. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... This article is about the abolition of slavery. ...


The party declined rapidly in the North in 1855–56. In the Election of 1856, it was bitterly divided over slavery. One faction supported the ticket of presidential nominee Millard Fillmore and vice-presidential nominee Andrew Jackson Donelson, who won 23% of the popular vote and Maryland's 8 electoral votes. Fillmore did not win enough votes in Pennsylvania to block Democrat James Buchanan from the White House. Most of the anti-slavery members of the American Party joined the Republican Party after the controversial Dred Scott ruling occurred. The pro-slavery wing of the American Party remained strong on the local and state levels in a few southern states, but by the Election of 1860, they were no longer a serious national political movement.[3] Presidential electoral votes by state. ... Not to be confused with Mallard Fillmore. ... Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799–1871) was a diplomat and candidate for the Vice Presidency. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... For other persons named James Buchanan, see James Buchanan (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see White House (disambiguation). ... This article is about the slave. ... Presidential electoral votes by state. ...


Some historians argue that in the South the Know Nothings were fundamentally different from their northern counterparts, and were motivated less by nativism or anti-Catholicism than by conservative Unionism (preserving the Union of states rather than labor unions); southern Know Nothings were mostly old Whigs who were worried about both the pro-slavery extremism of the Democrats and the emergence of the anti-slavery Republican party in the North. In Louisiana and Maryland, the Know-Nothings enlisted Catholics. Historian Michael F. Holt, however, argues, "Know Nothingism originally grew in the South for the same reasons it spread in the North — nativism, anti-Catholicism, and animosity toward unresponsive politicos — not because of conservative Unionism." He quotes ex-Governor William B. Campbell of Tennessee, who wrote in January 1855, "I have been astonished at the widespread feeling in favor of their principles — to wit, Native Americanism and anti-Catholicism — it takes everywhere."[4] The factual accuracy of this article is disputed. ... Anti-Catholicism is discrimination, hostility or prejudice directed at Catholics or the Catholic Church. ... The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. ... The History of the Democratic Party is an account of a continuously supported political party in the United States of America. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... Official language(s) None (English, de facto) Capital Annapolis Largest city Baltimore Largest metro area Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area Area  Ranked 42nd  - Total 12,407 sq mi (32,133 km²)  - Width 101 miles (145 km)  - Length 249 miles (400 km)  - % water 21  - Latitude 37° 53′ N to 39° 43′ N... William Bowen Campbell (February 1, 1807 - August 19, 1867) was governor of Tennessee from 1851 to 1853. ... This article is about the U.S. state of Tennessee. ...


Usage of the term

The term "Know Nothing" is better remembered than the party itself. In the late 19th century, Democrats would damn the Republicans as "Know Nothings" in order to secure the votes of Catholics. Since the early 20th century, the term has been a provocative slur, suggesting that the opponent is both nativist and ignorant. In 2006, an editorial in the neoconservative magazine The Weekly Standard by William Kristol attacked populist Republicans for not recognizing the danger of "turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know-Nothing party."[5] Neoconservatism describes several distinct political ideologies which are considered new forms of conservatism. ... William Bill Kristol (born December 23, 1952 in New York City) is an American conservative pundit, inspired in part by the ideas of Leo Strauss. ...

Citizen Know Nothing, image of the Know Nothing party's nativist ideal
Citizen Know Nothing, image of the Know Nothing party's nativist ideal

The lead editorial of the New York Times for Sunday, May 20, 2007, on a proposed immigration bill, referred to "this generation's Know-Nothings...." Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2530x3308, 1071 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Know Nothing ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (2530x3308, 1071 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Know Nothing ...


Platform

The platform of the American Party called for, among other things:

  • Severe limits on immigration, especially from Catholic countries
  • Restricting political office to native-born Americans
  • Mandating a wait of 21 years before an immigrant could gain citizenship
  • Restricting public school teachers to Protestants
  • Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools
  • Restricting the sale of liquor

For other uses, see Bible (disambiguation). ... Spirits redirects here. ...

Fictional portrayals

The American Party was represented in the 2002 film Gangs of New York, led by Daniel Day Lewis as William "Bill The Butcher" Cutting, the fictionalized version of real-life Know Nothing leader William Poole. The Know Nothings also play a prominent role in the historical novel Shaman by Noah Gordon. Gangs of New York is a 2002 film set in the middle 19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. ... Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born April 29, 1957) is a British actor. ... Brooklyn Eagle, March 10, 1855 (partial) Brooklyn Eagle, March 20, 1855 William Poole, aka Bill The Butcher (July 1821 - March 8, 1855), was a member of the Bowery Boys street gang and the U.S. political party the Know-Nothings. ... Noah Gordon (born November 11, 1926 in Worcester, Massachusetts) is an American novelist. ...


See also

The Second Party System is the term historians give to the political system existing in the United States from about 1824 to 1854. ... The Third Party System, which began in 1854 and changed over to the Fourth Party System in the mid-1890s revolved around the issues of nationalism, modernization, and race. ... The Philadelphia Nativist Riots (also known as the Philadelphia prayer riots of 1844 and the Bible Riots) were a series of riots that took place May 3 and July 4, 1844. ... James G. Hardy (May 3, 1795 - July 16, 1856) was a popular Kentucky politician who belonged to the American or Know-Nothing Party. ... Brooklyn Eagle, March 10, 1855 (partial) Brooklyn Eagle, March 20, 1855 William Poole, aka Bill The Butcher (July 1821 - March 8, 1855), was a member of the Bowery Boys street gang and the U.S. political party the Know-Nothings. ... The Wide Awakes were a paramilitary organization affiliated with the Republican Party during the 1860 election and American Civil War. ... Nathaniel P. Banks, engraving from a Mathew Brady Carte de visite Nathaniel Prentice (or Prentiss)[1] Banks (January 30, 1816 – September 1, 1894), American politician and soldier, served as Governor of Massachusetts, Speaker of the House of the United States House of Representatives, and as a Union general in the... The Bowery Boys were a nativist, anti-Catholic, and anti-Irish gang based North of the Five Points district of New York City. ... John Jordan Crittenden (September 10, 1786–July 26, 1863) was an American statesman. ...

Notes

  1. ^ Welcome to The American Presidency
  2. ^ American Party - Ohio History Central - A product of the Ohio Historical Society
  3. ^ 1920 World Book, Volume V. pp 3271
  4. ^ Holt The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party, p. 856.
  5. ^ Quoted by Craig Shirley, "How the GOP Lost Its Way" Washington Post April 22, 2006; Page A21in

World Book Encyclopedia is, according to its publisher in the United States, the number-one selling print encyclopedia in the world [1]. The first edition (1917) contained 8 volumes. ...

Bibliography

  • Anbinder; Tyler. Nativism and Slavery: The Northern Know Nothings and the politics of the 1850s (1992). Online version; also online at ACLS History e-Book
  • Baum, Dale. "Know-Nothingism and the Republican Majority in Massachusetts: The Political Realignment of the 1850s." Journal of American History 64 (1977–78): 959-86. **also in The Civil War Party System: The Case of Massachusetts, 1848–1876 (1984) online
  • Ray A. Billington, The Protestant Crusade, 1800–1860: A Study of the Origins of American Nativism (1938)
  • Bladek, John David. "'Virginia Is Middle Ground': the Know Nothing Party and the Virginia Gubernatorial Election of 1855." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1998 106(1): 35–70. ISSN 0042-6636
  • Cheathem, Mark R. "'I Shall Persevere in the Cause of Truth': Andrew Jackson Donelson and the Election of 1856". Tennessee Historical Quarterly 2003 62(3): 218–237. ISSN 0040-3261 Donelson was Andrew Jackson's nephew and K-N nominee for Vice President
  • Dash, Mark. "New Light on the Dark Lantern: the Initiation Rites and Ceremonies of a Know-nothing Lodge in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania" Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 2003 127(1): 89–100. ISSN 0031-4587
  • Gienapp, William E. The Origins of the Republican Party, 1852–1856 (1978), detailed statistical study, state-by-state
  • Clifford S. Griffin; Their Brothers' Keepers: Moral Stewardship in the United States, 1800–1865 Rutgers University Press. 1960
  • Michael Holt. The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party (1999) online
  • Michael F. Holt, Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln (1992)
  • Michael F. Holt, "The Antimasonic and Know Nothing Parties", in Arthur Schlesinger Jr., ed., History of United States Political

Parties (1973), I, 575–620.

  • Payton Hurt, "The Rise and Fall of the 'Know Nothings' in California," California Historical Society Quarterly 9 (March and June 1930).
  • Ira Leonard and Robert Parmet, American Nativism, 1830–1860 (1971)
  • Levine, Bruce. "Conservatism, Nativism, and Slavery: Thomas R. Whitney and the Origins of the Know-nothing Party" Journal of American History 2001 88(2): 455–488. ISSN 0021–8723
  • Stephen E. Maizlish, "The Meaning of Nativism and the Crisis of the Union: The Know-Nothing Movement in the Antebellum North."

in William Gienapp, ed. Essays on American Antebellum Politics, 1840–1860 (1982) pp166-98 online edition

  • Melton, Tracy Matthew. Hanging Henry Gambrill: The Violent Career of Baltimore's Plug Uglies, 1854–1860 (2005)
  • Allan Nevins. , Ordeal of the Union: A House Dividing, 1852–1857 (1947)
  • Overdyke, W. Darrell The Know-Nothing Party in the South (1950) online
  • Voss-Hubbard, Mark. Beyond Party: Cultures of Antipartisanship in Northern Politics before the Civil War Johns Hopkins U. Press 2002.

Flag Seal Nickname: Monument City, Charm City, Mob Town, B-more Motto: Get In On It (formerly The City That Reads and The Greatest City in America; BELIEVE is not the official motto but rather a specific campaign) Location Location of Baltimore in Maryland Coordinates , Government Country State County United... Plug Uglies The Plug Uglies were a gang (though most often referred to as a club) that operated in the west end of Baltimore from 1854 to 1860. ...

Primary Sources

  • Frederick Rinehart Anspach. The Sons of the Sires: A History of the Rise, Progress, and Destiny of the American Party (1855) by K-N activist online edition
  • Samuel Clagett Busey. Immigration: Its Evils and Consequences (1856) online edition
  • Anna Ella Carroll. The Great American Battle: Or, The Contest Between Christianity and Political Romanism (1856) online edition
  • Fillmore, Millard. Millard Fillmore Papers Ed. by Frank H. Severance (1907) online edition
  • The Wide-awake Gift: A Know-nothing Token for 1855 (1855) online edition
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Know Nothing Platform 1856

Image File history File links Wikisource-logo. ... The original Wikisource logo. ...

External links

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