Last updated on: 1/30/2017 | Author:

1849 – Know-Nothing Party Forms and Pushes for Major Restrictions on Immigrants

“In 1849, some organized into an anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant political group famously called the ‘Know-Nothings,’ which derived its name from the secrecy of its members. [They] believed that native-born Americans were superior to the newly arrived immigrant groups on the basis that Irish and German immigrants tended to be poorer and Catholic, which Know-Nothings took as traits of cultural and economic backwardness.”

“In national politics, the Know-Nothing movement reached its climax in 1856… The KnowNothings demanded an end to pauper and criminal immigration, the repeal of state laws which permitted foreigners to vote before they had completed the naturalization process, and the repeal of Congressional land grants to unnaturalized foreigners. They opposed the ‘aggressive policy and corrupting tendencies’ of the Roman Catholic Church, favored filling public offices with Americans by ‘birth, education, and training,’ opposed exclusion of the Bible from the public schools, and advocated a 21-year residence requirement for naturalization.”