The Know-Nothing Party

Immigration has been an issue in the U.S. for many years. In the early 1800s, a new movement began. A nativist was a person against immigration. They wanted to stop people from other countries from coming to live in the U.S. Nativists thought immigrants were against our way of life.

In the 1840s, there were many new immigrants in the U.S. By the 1850s, there were almost three million Catholics. The nativists wanted to stop the immigration of Irish Catholics. It was thought that they were more loyal to the Pope than to the United States. Several Protestants of the time felt that the Pope was trying to fill the U.S. with Catholics in order to take over.

In 1844, street battles between Catholics and Protestants in Philadelphia broke out. They were fighting over the issue of Catholicism in the schools. The conflict left thirty dead and hundreds wounded.

In 1849, a secret society calling themselves the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner began in New York. Later it was known as the Native American Party. It became officially known as the American Party. Unofficially, the party was known as the Know-Nothings. The name came about because of the party's secret ways. When a member was asked about the party, he would say, "I know nothing."

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