The anti-immigrant American Nativists, the "Know-Nothings
" from the 1830s to 1860s, were the Ku Klux Klan of that time whose coded language, "America for Americans," resonates in today's rhetoric directed toward Muslims and Mexicans.
The Know-Nothings, being generous with their prejudices, did not limit their hatred to the Germans.
The Know-Nothings had a cause: to keep America white, Protestant and Anglo-Saxon.
Some Know-Nothings made it to Congress, where they railed against immigration and sought to ban Catholics from public office.
When the Know-Nothing governor, Henry Gardner (described as by one observer as a "broken-down, disappointed Whig politician") ordered the disbanding of seven companies of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (which had many Irish and immigrant members), Worcester's Jackson Guards was included.
Although it twice elected Know-Nothing George Richardson as mayor, Worcester soon became disenchanted with the movement.
Like the Democratic Party and the Whig Party previously, the Know-Nothing movement broke apart on the burning question of slavery and split into northern and southern segments.
The Republicans were formed from remnants of the Whig, Free-Soil, Liberty, and Know-Nothing
parties--basically, all the groups that fought against slavery's extension into new states and territories.
Clearly a devotee of the Marilyn Monroe approach to life, dreadful Jade thinks that dizzy, know-nothing
blondes are attractive to men.
The Know-nothing American Party, he says later, "turned out to be an acceptable halfway house for voters moving from the Whigs to the Republicans." And still later he says the Know-nothing insurrection was the "reaction, harsh but human, of a Protestant nation" scared witless of being overrun by Irish.
Where we get put in our place, though, is in Brimelow's revisionist rereading of the mid-19th century Know-Nothings. Most people think the Know-Nothings were anti-Catholic bigots -- because they were -- but Brimelow says nothing could be further from the truth.
"The Know-nothings," Brimelow concedes "were, however, deeply suspicious of Roman Catholicism -- at a time when enormous Irish Catholic immigration had begun, after the potato famine of 1845."
"The Irish are perhaps the only people in our history with the distinction of having a political party, the Know-Nothings, formed against them," wrote John F.
The American Party, or Know-Nothings, code-named "Sam," plotted its anti-immigrant rise in fraternal lodges one historian called "cocoon(s) of secrecy." They assured clandestine party membership with peculiar handshakes and the password, "I know nothing." Charles Francis Adams, the anti-slavery statesman whose grandfather drafted the Massachusetts Constitution, rebuked "Sam," stating that the "essence of the secret obligations which bind these men together ...
In 1854, the Know-Nothings rode a cunning platform of anti-Catholic nativism and progressive reforms to the largest electoral landslide in Bay State history.