|American Party (Official)|
|Years active||1845 - 1860|
|Preceded by||Whig Party|
Native American Party
|Succeeded by||Republican Party|
|See also||Politics of the U.S.|
The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1850s. Nativism is an Opposition to immigration which originated in United States politics with roots in the country's historic role as a Melting pot. The Whig Party was a Political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Politics of the United States takes place in the framework of a presidential, Federal republic where the President of the United States (the Head of This list of Political parties in the United States contains past and present political parties in the United States. The United States has a federal government, with elected officials at federal (national state and local level Nativism is an Opposition to immigration which originated in United States politics with roots in the country's historic role as a Melting pot. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Events and Trends Industry Production of Steel revolutionized by invention of the Bessemer process Benjamin Silliman 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. Irish Americans (Gael-Mheiriceánach are citizens of the United States who can claim ancestry originating in Ireland. Catholic is an Adjective derived from the Greek adjective '' / 'katholikos' meaning "whole" or "complete". History See also History of the Papacy Catholics recognize the Pope as a successor to Saint Peter, who Jesus named as the "shepherd" and Rome ( Roma ˈroma Roma is the capital city of Italy and Lazio, and is Italy's largest and most populous city with more than 2 Mainly active from 1854–56, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Naturalization is the acquisition of Citizenship or Nationality by somebody who was not a citizen or national of that country when he or she was born 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. The History of the United States Republican Party is an account of the second oldest currently existing Political party in the United States 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. 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 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 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.
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. Blessed Pope Pius IX (May 13 1792 &ndash February 7 1878 born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was Pope from June 16 1846 until 1878 The European Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout the European 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. A conspiracy theory attributes the ultimate cause of an event or chain of events (usually Political, Social or Historical events or the concealment The Irish people ( Irish: Muintir na hÉireann, na hÉireannaigh, na Gaeil) are a Western European Ethnic group who originate In 1849, an oath-bound secret society, The Order of the Star Spangled Banner, was created by Charles Allen in New York City. Secret society is a term used to describe a variety of organizations The Order of the Star Spangled Banner (OSSB was an oath-bound Secret society in New York City. Charles Allen may refer to Charles Allen (athlete (b 1977 a Canadian hurdler Charles Allen (businessman (b The City of New York It became the nucleus of some units of the American Party.
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. Chicago (ʃɪˈkɑːgoʊ is the largest City by population in the state of Illinois and the American Midwest of the United States. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts ( is a state located in the New England region of the northeastern United States.
In spring 1854, the Know Nothings carried Boston, Salem, and other New England cities. Salem is a city in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. History See also History of New England New England's earliest inhabitants were Algonquian -speaking Native Americans including the 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. The Whig Party was a Political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Philadelphia (ˌfɪləˈdɛlfiə 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. Washington DC ( formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, the District, or simply D John Thomas Towers (1811-1857 was Superintendent of printing at the U The structure of Washington DC 's city government has changed several times since the City of Washington was officially granted a formal government in 1802 John Walker Maury (1809&ndash1855 was Mayor of Washington DC for one two-year term from 1852 to 1854 " In New York, in a four-way race, the Know Nothing candidate ran third with 26 percent. New York ( is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States and is the nation's third most populous 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. The State of Maine ( is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean The State of Indiana ( was the 19th US state admitted into the union The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ( often colloquially referred to as PA (its abbreviation by natives and Northeasterners is a state located in the Northeastern California ( is a US state on the West Coast of the United States, along the Pacific Ocean. Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, also known as Noble Experiment, refers to a Sumptuary law which prohibits Alcohol They did elect the Mayor of San Francisco, Stephen P. The Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco is the head of the government of San Francisco, California. Webb, and J. Neely Johnson as Governor of California. John Neely Johnson ( August 2 1825 August 31 1872) was an American lawyer and politician 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, 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. Schuyler Colfax Jr (March 23 1823 &ndash January 13 1885 was a U Henry Wilson (February 16 1812 &ndash November 22 1875 was a Senator from Massachusetts and the eighteenth Vice President of the United States. The Vice President of the United States is the first person in the presidential line of succession, becoming the new President of the United States upon the death A historian of the party concludes:
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 Second Party System is a term of Periodization used by historians and political scientists to name the political system existing in the United States from about The Whig party, weakened for years by internal dissent and chronic factionalism, was nearly destroyed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, opened new lands repealed the Missouri Compromise of 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.
– 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. Blessed Pope Pius IX (May 13 1792 &ndash February 7 1878 born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, was Pope from June 16 1846 until 1878 The Washington Monument is a large tall sand-colored Obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington D 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. The Washington Monument is a large tall sand-colored Obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington D
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. Levi Day Boone (born December 6, 1808 in Kentucky; died January 24, 1882; buried in Rosehill Cemetery) served as The Mayor of Chicago is the Chief executive of Chicago, Illinois, the third largest City in the United He barred all immigrants from city jobs. Statewide, however, Republican Abraham Lincoln blocked the party from any successes. Abraham Lincoln (February 12 1809 &ndash April 15 1865 the sixteenth President of the United States, successfully led his country through its greatest internal Ohio was the only state where the party gained strength in 1855. Ohio ( is a Midwestern state of the United States. As part of the Great Lakes region, Ohio has long been a cultural and geographical crossroads Their Ohio success seems to have come from winning over immigrants, especially German Lutherans and Scottish Presbyterians who feared Catholicism. German Americans ( German: Deutschamerikaner) are citizens of the United States of Ethnic German ancestry Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the teachings of the sixteenth-century German reformer Martin Luther Presbyterianism is a family of Christian denominations within the Reformed branch of Protestant Western Christianity 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. Alabama (formally the State of Alabama;) is a State located in the southern region of the United States of America. In the tempestuous 1855 campaign, the Democrats won by convincing state voters that Alabama Know Nothings would not protect slavery from Northern abolitionists. Abolitionism was a political movement of the 18th and 19th century which sought to make Slavery illegal particularly in the United States and British West Indies
The party declined rapidly in the North in 1855–56. In the Election of 1856, it was bitterly divided over slavery. The United States presidential election of 1856 was unusually heated 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. Millard Fillmore ( January 7 1800 &ndash March 8 1874 was the thirteenth President of the United States, serving from 1850 until 1853 and the last member of the Whig Andrew Jackson Donelson ( August 25, 1799 &ndash June 26, 1871) was an American Diplomat and a candidate for Vice President of Fillmore did not win enough votes in Pennsylvania to block Democrat James Buchanan from the White House. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ( often colloquially referred to as PA (its abbreviation by natives and Northeasterners is a state located in the Northeastern James Buchanan Jr (April 23 1791 – June 1 1868 was the fifteenth President of the United States (1857–1861 See also Executive Office of the President of the United States The White House, formerly known as the Executive Mansion, is the Official residence Most of the anti-slavery members of the American Party joined the Republican Party after the controversial Dred Scott ruling occurred. Dred Scott (1799 – September 17, 1858) was a slave in the United States who sued unsuccessfully for his freedom in the famous 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. The United States presidential election of 1860 set the stage for the American Civil War. 
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. Nativism is an Opposition to immigration which originated in United States politics with roots in the country's historic role as a Melting pot. Anti-Catholicism is a generic term for Discrimination, hostility or Prejudice directed at the Roman Catholic Church or its followers The Whig Party was a Political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. The History of the United States Democratic Party is an account of the oldest Political party in the United States and arguably TalkDemocratic In Louisiana and Maryland, the Know-Nothings enlisted Catholics. The State of Louisiana ( or, État de Louisiane, pronounced) is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America 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. William Bowen Campbell ( February 1, 1807 August 19, 1867) was Governor of Tennessee from 1851 to 1853 Tennessee ( is a state located in the Southern United States. "
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. Neoconservatism (or Neocon is a Right-wing political philosophy that emerged in the United States from the rejection of the Social liberalism, Moral relativism William Kristol (born December 23, 1952 in New York City) is an American political analyst and commentator "
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. . . . "
The platform of the American Party called for, among other things:
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. Etymology According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word bible is from Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin Gangs of New York is a 2002 Bildungsroman film set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City. Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis (born 29 April 1957 is an English actor William Poole ( July 24, 1821 &ndash March 8, 1855) also known as Bill the Butcher, was a member of the New York City The Know Nothings also play a prominent role in the historical novel Shaman by Noah Gordon. Noah Gordon (born November 11, 1926) is an American Novelist He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Parties (1973), I, 575–620.
in William Gienapp, ed. Essays on American Antebellum Politics, 1840–1860 (1982) pp166-98 online edition