Today in history – Know-Nothing party meet in Philly to nominate Pres. candidate

The headline covers almost everything that matters: this date in 1856 saw a convening in Philadelphia by the Know-Nothing political party to nominate its first presidential candidate.

The Know-Nothing movement began in the 1840s, when an increasing rate of immigration led to the formation of a number of so-called nativist societies to combat “foreign” influences in American society. Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Italy, who were embraced by the Democratic Party in eastern cities, were especially targeted. In the early 1850s, several secret nativist societies were formed, of which the “Order of the Star-Spangled Banner” and the “Order of United Americans” were the most significant. When members of these organizations were questioned by the press about their political platform, they would often reply they knew nothing, hence the popular name for the Know-Nothing movement.

When their candidate, former President Fillmore, failed to win anywhere except Maryland, the party effectively ceased to exist. Although the name might lead you to think they merely changed their name to the Democrats, they really did go away (which I know some of you wish would happen to the Democrats).

[tags]Today in History, The Know-Nothing party[/tags]