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Native American "Know Nothing" Party

Know Nothing party flag

unknow anuthor, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Native American party was an American third party that was created in the mid 1840s. The party had a short stint of popularity in the 1850s after the Whig party collapsed. The party was populist and "nativist", meaning that the party feared immigration and other foreign affairs.


The party was first created in 1844 after the immigration of large amounts of Irish & German people. Because of this, Catholicism in the United States grew, causing Anti-Catholics to rise up and create the new political party. In the 1844 elections, many Anti-Catholics were elected into local offices, giving the party a good reason to be created. The party would earn their nickname, the "Know-Nothings", due to the fact that members would open gatherings by saying "I know nothing".


Today, the party's views would be considered xenophobic. They opposed foreign affairs and wanted to restrict immigration.


The party would reach big in several New England cities. The closest they got to the presidency was in the 1856 election, when the main faction of the party nominated former president Millard Fillmore. Fillmore would get Maryland's eight electoral votes and 23% of the popular vote. The party at this point, though, was divided over slavery, and other factions of the party would nominate different tickets in different states. The party would disintegrate shortly after; it officially dissolved in 1860.

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