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The Legacy of the Know-Nothings


Daphne and Grace discuss the Know-Nothings
During the 1850s, a brand new political party, named the Know Nothings, was formed. They started out in small, secret, meetings and had no elected officials. Within four years they had elected mayors and congressmen in many different states. How did this happen so quickly?

Although this building is now a museum, it used to be a gathering place for Know-Nothings
It all started when a man named Charles B. Allen began a secret group called "The Order of the Star Spangled Banner". They thought that there were too many people living in America. A lot of the new people had only been in America for a few years. The new people were from Europe, mostly Ireland and Germany. That made them immigrants into this county. All of the people in the meeting had lived in America, a lot longer. They were the old Americans and they did not like the immigrants.

The infamous peephole!
America was often called the land of opportunity. If you believed in yourself, you could do anything. This is what made the immigrants want to come here. At this time, Europe was poor and they thought America was rich. They thought it would be better in America.


Sniffle, sniffle... I hate cats!

The problem was that America was also poor. The average person did have a lot and could barely fee their family. People began to fight for these things and mistrust their neighbors. Even though it was not their fault, the old Americans blamed their problems on the immigrants. This is why they formed the Know Nothings.

Teddy says, 'Let me in!'
Unfortunately, the Know Nothings were unfair to many of the immigrants. The Know Nothings passed laws that made life very difficult for immigrants. Some of these laws would be illegal today! They did not give the same rights to the immigrants that they gave themselves. They made it hard for them to live and would not let their kids go school. It is a good thing that they did not last very long. The Know Nothings were only around for about ten years.

Teddy and Daphne, pretending to be in a Know-Nothing meeting, were caught off guard!
We should remember the Know Nothings because of what they teach us. Back then the immigrants were different and that made the old Americans afraid. Later, they realized that this was good thing, because they added to America and made it better. Some people today also think we have a problem with immigrants. Hopefully they will learn that immigrants are what have made this country great.


Please email me at: daphne@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Teddy - A 19th century Robin Hood saves the day
Kevin - Heck no! We won't go for a 16 hour work day!