MOOC | Political Nativism | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.5.7

MOOC | Political Nativism | The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1861 | 1.5.7


>>In our reading this week, in the Gienapp book of documents, you’ve got a little article– another article from the New York Times which was a Whig and then a Republican newspaper called causes of the Know-Nothing movement and you’ve read that. And you noticed the article begins by denouncing prejudice, denouncing prejudice against immigrants. And then, it employs every stereotype of the Nativist movement. The United States has become a dumping ground for paupers from Europe. Catholics are hostile to American freedom, et cetera, et cetera. So that article kind of exemplifies a certain mode of thought. And then, of course, there is this– there was just the cultural conflict between native-born Protestants. Here is image– Well first of all, a lot of these immigrants enjoyed a good time, what can I say? Here’s a German beer garden. They like to have their beer, these Germans, right? They’re having a good time, there they are. Yeah. I wouldn’t mind going there myself. All right. But this was anathema to the solid middle class Protestant, you know, sobriety, so to speak. And this– The first manifestation politically of Nativism is actually the Temperance Movement. That is to say the movement to abolish liquor to ban liquor and the country is flooded with these– Here we go, here’s a nice Temperance. Can you see this? The Temperance lithograph. So, we’ve got a young man torn between two women appealing to him. One is love on the left, the woman in white and then on the right is– well love, purity and fidelity is over there. So, she is the good one. But then you got a woman with the darker outfit offering him a glass of wine or something. And so here, he’s torn. Now, he does seem to be edging over toward the wine in this thing but, you know, so this is the temptation of– and since liquor is associated with immigrant culture, the Temperance movement becomes anti-immigrant movement. Oh here’s another one, “The Drunkard’s Progress”. And this is a warning that there– It said– What is it? The direct road to poverty, wretchedness, and ruin. And on the left, this fellow with his family and there is him, his wife holding a baby and two other children and he’s taking a glass in the morning, the morning dram. What’s the problem? A little glass in the morning never hurt anybody. But it’s the road to ruin, then he goes to the grog shop, that’s the second one, where he’s buying up a whole bunch of things and a bunch of rather unruly types. And if you look very carefully, on the extreme left of the grog shop, you may not be able to see it here. This is a little black fellow here. Little black guy in the– So, look how the grog shop is interracial, I mean, how low can you get? So, very bad. The third one is the confirmed drunkard, forget it. He’s kaput, he’s lying there in his house, the wife is crying, the kids, the chair is broken. And finally, the fourth one, the concluding scene poverty and wretchedness, I guess they were evicted from their home, and they’re they go. So this is what happens if you have a glass of something or other like this in the morning. So, this was widely publicized. So, you know, whatever the medical merits of this, the Temperance movement was an effort to impose a middle class Protestant set of cultural values on the immigrant workers, and– immigrant communities. And in 1851, Maine became the first state to pass a prohibition law. Liquor was outlawed in Maine and it became known as the Maine Law. If you read in some of the literature of the history of this time, you’ll see people referring to the Maine Law. What is this Maine Law? It’s prohibition. And then several other states then follow suit in New England and some areas westward with this ban on liquor. Now, of course, immigrants and many other native-born people would like to have a drink but were bitterly opposed to this as a violation of their individual liberty and it becomes a very divisive issue in politics. Now, in the middle of the 1850’s, we see the rise of what comes to be called the Know-Nothing party, the Know-Nothings which originated as something with a more understandable name, The Order of the Star Spangled Banner. It was a secret organization with an elaborate ritual and people to join up, you have to swear that you are a Protestant and that you would vote only for Native American, native-born Americans and Protestants for office. So, it’s as much anti-Catholic is it is anti-immigrant. And in 1855, a third pledge was added, interestingly and we’ll get to this in a second that you were devoted to the union. You were opposed to sectional division. Once they become a political party, they’re called the Know-Nothings because it’s secret and people are supposed to say if someone asks you about it you say, “I know nothing”. What do you know about this Nativist? I know nothing. So it becomes known as the Know-Nothing party. What do they demand? They demanded the exclusion of persons of foreign birth from political office. Now, there is a president for that in the constitution, right? The President of the United States can not be foreign born. That’s why there was this rigmarole about Obama and his birth certificate. People refuse to admit that Hawaii is part of the United States so they thought he was born abroad or something. But that’s– Henry Kissinger could never become president, not that he should have, but they were– No, he was born abroad, you know. He’s born in Germany. So, anyway, but they want to extend this to all offices, all political offices, up and down the scale. Second of all, they wanted to increase the naturalization period from 5 years to 21 years. It would take 21 years after arrival for a immigrant to become in American citizen. And thirdly, vaguely, resistance to the aggressions of the Catholic Church, rather vague but that was part of their platform. Now, the Know-Nothings burst on the scene in 1854. We already talked about the elections of 1854 as a disaster for the Democratic Party in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. But part of that was not just anti-slavery but the rise of this Nativist party aided, as I said, by the political disintegration going on. Protestants leaving the Democratic Party et cetera and the elections of 1854 are very hard to analyze because these different factors are coming into play in different places. Hostility to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, temperance and hostility to immigrants, the one thing all those impulses had in common was they could all unite against the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is the party of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the party of the immigrants and the party that is opposed to prohibition legislation. So, whatever they have used other things, they could all vote for anti-democratic party candidates which– the democrats represented the opposite as I said. So, the– The 1854 elections where a disaster for the democrats, in the East the Know-Nothings organized as a separate party. They ran their own candidates. In the west, they become part of what they call fusion movements, where Free Soilers, Whigs; Know-Nothings came together in this kind of general coalitions to oppose the Democratic Party. And they won all over the place. In Indiana, one commentator says, “The election results show a deep-seated feeling in favor of human freedom,” anti-slavery, “And a fine determination that none but Americans shall rule America.” Nativism, both in the same sentence with no feeling of any contradiction or tension between them. And in fact, Stephen A. Douglas constantly said that the rising republican party was a crucible of all these movements. It was abolitionism he said, Whigism, Nativism, Temporance movement, they all came together, he said in the Republic in Party.

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