1850 Know-Nothings Rise Again

©Library of Congress
©Library of Congress

Before the founding of the Republican Party in 1854, the two political parties were the Democrats and the Whigs. Anti-slavery Whigs met in February of 1854 – an election year – to establish a new party and oppose the spread of slavery into new, western territories. This caused an irreparable split in the party, causing the Whigs imploded previous to the election. The two-party system collapsed and secret societies abounded.

Where did the former Whigs who favored slavery go? Into these secret societies. Two such societies were The Order of United Americans and The Order of the Star Spangled Banner. Roaring out of these secret societies came nativism, xenophobia and the American Party.

When politicians from the American Party were asked about their membership in the secret societies, they would respond, “I know nothing.” They responded so frequently with this refrain, newspapers across the country coined the American Party the Know Nothing Party, and it stuck.

What did the platform of the American Party look like?

In the East it looked like finding and calling for the deportation of all Irish and Italian Roman Catholics, Jewish, and free Black immigrants who were blamed for all the problems of the country.

In the Midwest it looked like finding and calling for the deportation of all German immigrants who were blamed for all the problems of the country.

In the West it looked like finding and calling for the deportation of all Asian immigrants who were blamed for all the problems of the country.

In Donald Trump’s long-awaited immigration speech Wednesday night, these were some of the phrases he used about this country’s immigrants: “Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous criminals allowed to freely roam our streets…violent offenders…we have to release them into your communities…the results will be horrific…some of the most heinous crimes imaginable…accused of murder, rape and child molestation…local police know each and every one of them – they know where they live, they know them by name, when I am in office, the first hour, those people will be gone.”

Excellent speech by Donald Trump tonight. Deport criminal aliens, end catch and release, enforce immigration laws & American First. Tweeted by David Duke, longtime Ku Klux Klan member

So here we are with history repeating itself. It’s not as if we don’t know better. Yet we continue to turn our backs on lessons learned, ignoring the obvious, letting fear once again weaken our resolve to live our lives from integrity. And those of us who contend we follow a greater God have either remained silent and stepped away from the process entirely, or have instead mistakenly been worshiping an emperor who has no clothes.

I have been one of the silent ones for far too long. I can no longer remain on the sidelines and listen to racist rhetoric without calling it out for what it is. I must reiterate this is a country founded on religious freedom, whose foundation is build upon the sweat and backs of immigrants, country whose invitation to immigrants and their families (“Give me your tired, your poor; Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free) has been calling out from New York’s Liberty Island since 1886.

I have been one of the silent ones for far too long. I can no longer remain on the sidelines and listen to racist rhetoric without calling it out for what it is.

We must hunker down and pray: for our country, for each other and for our souls. Let us pray and repent of our hate and our fear; let us once again revere Your name and exhibit compassion for each other. Let us embrace Your love – the kind of love that casts out fear. Let us embrace not our own agendas, but Your Agenda, Your Good News. Let us once again cherish what this country was meant to be.

I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can anyone who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that “all men are created equal.” We now practically read it “all men are created equal, except negroes.” When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read “all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.” (sic) Abraham Lincoln, Letter to JF. Speed, August 24, 1855

3 thoughts on “1850 Know-Nothings Rise Again

  1. “ILLEGAL” immigrants!!!! How about quoting accurately instead of following the Liberals line of bull called twisting the truth!!! It is straight out of the Sal Alinsky handbook from which Hillary was trained! He was her mentor in college and afterwards. Have you thought to pray for this corrupt woman who has proven to be a liar and responsible for the deaths of Americans in Benghazi?

    You also left out the mothers who were on stage with Trump whose children had been murdered by ILLEGAL criminal aliens who had been in the USA illegally…arrested, deported, and then reentered again ILLEGALLY only to kill innocent people!! The ILLEGALS are the ones Hillary Clinton wants protected! At the risk of every innocent law abiding American.

    If you will agree to see the movie “Hillary’s America” then I will buy your ticket and your popcorn! It is based on history and supported by historical documents and narrated and produced by a LEGAL immigrant who is now a citizen of America. Also, learned and well respected black Americans explain why they could no longer support the party that has long oppressed their race beginning with slavery: the Democrats.

    There is much to tell but you want to highlight only the words that suit your purpose. Those who watched the entire speech instead of excerpts by some liberal CNN producer will understand that there is actually someone running for office that will do the job that was never done by this present administration. Clips taken out of context are dangerously deceitful.

    “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses….” NOT your murderers, rapists, and thieves!

    While we should most certainly pray for all people it does not mean we should throw caution to the wind concerning those who enter the country without going through the traditional lawful process! It is a slap in the face of those who did enter legally and with good intention.

    I am glad you ended your post with a quote from one of the most famous Republicans….Abraham Lincoln.


    • Dale, as a former journalist, I watched the speech, then rewatched and paused and quoted him directly and accurately. I did not take his words from another source.

      Not all illegal immigrants are murderers and rapists. Not all Mexicans are murderers and rapists. Trump was speaking to a specific crowd in Arizona, and he used those families’ pain for his own purpose.

      The very next morning, Trump was on a news talk show and spoke about “softening” his stance and implementing the laws already on the books. In fact, he claimed as his own the policy already being carried by Obama for the last eight years: deporting gang members who are here illegally. He talked about prioritizing the law and adopting a “wait and see” policy regarding illegal immigrants who have been here for years, working hard and raising families.

      (And if Black Americans are no longer supporting the Democratic party, why do all the polls show Trump only getting 1-3% of the Black vote and Hillary getting 95-97%?)

      You know, I was going to email you privately before I posted this to suss out your feelings. I’d still really like to do that. Are you willing? I’d like to have a much deeper discussion about all this than I think we can do on the blog. Let me know, ok?


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