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The fear of foreign influence grew rapidly in America after the immigration of five million Irish and Germans 1820-60. Many of these immigrants were Catholic and by 1860, there were over 3 million Catholics in 2385 churches. The Protestant churches were divided by schisms over abolitionism, temperance, women's rights. The growth of cities and secular culture contributed to the fear and anxiety of conservative Protestants. The Antimasonic movement attracted an all-male, anti-secular, anti-modern, rural following. P.T. Barnum opened his New York museum in 1842, the same year that Edward Sorin founded Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Workingmen's movements appealed to laborers who feared the loss of jobs to machines and immigrants and slaves.

1829 - Baltimore Council of the Catholic Church issued 38 decrees required bishop control over property and priests, not trustees; urged the construction of new parishes and parochial schools; supported the Douay Bible distributed by the Catholic Tract Society, not than the King James Bible of the American Bible Association

1834 - Foreign Conspiracy against the Liberties of the U.S. by Samuel F. B. Morse

1835 - A Plea for the West by Lyman Beecher

1836 - Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk printed by Harper Brothers, sold 300,000, was the "Uncle Tom's Cabin of nativism"

1837 - Native American Association was one of the earliest political expressions of nativism, to restrict immigration, lengthen the naturalization period for more than 5 years, pass state head tax laws for every immigrant

1841 - Protestant Vindicator published by Rev. W. C. Brownlee, leader of the New York Protestant Association

1841 - New York Public School Society vs New York Bishop John Hughes to divide public funds; Whig Gov. William Seward supported Hughes, seeking the immigrant vote, but Whigs lost city elections; Maclay Bill passed in 1842 abolishing the private Protestant Society and unifying schools under a new elected school board, prohibited sectarian teachings but allowed local schools to select own books; this bill caused increase in nativism out of fear of growing Catholic influence in schools

1842 - American Protestant Association in Philadelphia by 100 clergy to oppose Catholics

1843 - American Republican Party founded in New York, won city elections over the Whigs in 1844 and elected James Harper mayor, flooded Congress with 21-year naturalization law petitions until Congress passed gag rule prohibiting such petitons in 1844, local success caused Whigs to nominate Theodore Frelinghuysen as VP on ticket with Henry Clay in 1844

1844 - nativist riots in Philadelphia; Langenheim brothers took on of the first spot news photos May 9 of militia defending Girard Bank from Catholic Irish mobs

1849 - Order of the Star Spangled Banner founded as secret society of nativists in New York City, replied to all questions "I know nothing" and named Know-Nothings by Horace Greeley in 1853 when it became the American Party, a national organization with 1 million members in 31 states

1854 - Know-Nothing members gained control of the Washington National Monument Society and destroyed the stone sent by Pope Pius IX, one of the 188 stones donated from around the world since 1833; construction halted until 1878

1855 - U.S. Grant joined a Know-Nothing lodge in St. Louis; blamed his failure to win the job of county engineer in 1859 on immigrants (who made up half the population of St. Louis)

1856 - Millard Fillmore nominated for President by the American Party, but lost to Buchanan; American Party would be absorbed into the Republican party

revised 2/8/02 | Firebells | Civil War