Nativism and Slavery
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Nativism and Slavery : The Northern Know Nothings and the Politics of the 1850s

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Politicians have used immigrants as scapegoats for the nation's problems throughout American history. No group achieved more success with this tactic than the Know Nothing Party, which directed its attacks primarily against Catholic immigrants. Within a year of its appearance in 1854, the party had elected eight governors, over one hundred members of Congress, and thousands of local officials. Prominent politicians of every persuasion joined the organization, which eventually became known as the American Party. Many observers predicted that the party would elect the next President. The Know Nothings experienced a precipitous decline, however, and in the 1856 election their presidential candidate, Millard Fillmore, carried only one state. The Know Nothings have not attracted much interest from historians, because the events involved in the coming of the Civil War eclipsed interest in a movement that was apparently only peripherally involved with Civil War issues. In this important new book, however, Anbinder argues that the Know Nothings's phenomenal success was inextricably linked to the firm stance their northern members took against the extension of slavery. Nativism and Slavery presents the first comprehensive history of the Know Nothings as well as a major revision of the political crisis that led to the Civil War.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 149.86 x 223.52 x 22.86mm | 521.63g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 7 halftones, 3 maps
  • 0195089227
  • 9780195089226
  • 2,003,458

Review quote

[A] detailed and careful study....Historians of American Christianity will find much of interest,,,,Nativism and Slavery offers a convincing solution to the historical puzzle of the precipitous decline of the Know Nothings and their latter-day cousin, the American Party.-Church History Impressively researched and gracefully written.-Journal of Interdisciplinary History A very important work...-Historical Journal of Massachusetts Excellent....Professor Anbinder has done an outstanding job in presenting his thesis that the Know Nothings were successful not only because of their nativism but also because of their antislavery positions....Those interested in the use of religion in political contests will find this a most impressive study.-Journal of Church and State Nativism and Slavery makes a major contribution to our understanding of mid-nineteenth-century American politics. It is an absorbing account of the spectacular rise and fall of the Know Nothing party....Anbinder...not only tells the story; he makes sense of it-more sense, in fact, than any previous historian. Time after time he provides interpretive insights of the first order....The book is solidly researched, cogently argued, and a delight to read. It promises to be the standard work in its field for years to come.-Annals of Iowa Tyler Anbinder has made a distinguished contribution to our understanding of the Northern Know Nothing movement....a study to which historians will react for years to come.-The Catholic Historical Review This nicely crafted history of the northern Know-Nothing party fills in a gap in the literature of the much-studied 1850s....Tyler Anbinder captures much about the brief moment of Know-Nothingism....He makes important contributions to our knowledge.-The Journal of American History An important and provocative book.-Choice Tyler Anbinder's impressively researched study provides the first book-length history of the northern Know Nothing Party. Retilling familiar ground, he unearths fresh and valuable information and makes a welcome contribution....Anbinder's book...contains important information and will deservedly become a standard source on northern Know Nothings.-American Historical Review In his excellent new book, Tyler Anbinder presents the first detailed political history of the Northern Know Nothings....There is much food for thought in this stimulating book....Anyone interested in the causes of the Civil War should read this book not only for its own quantities, but also for its stimulating contributions to a continually interesting period in American historiography.-Civil War News Perceptive....Tyler Anbinder has solved the mystery of how the antislavery tail could wag the nativist dog....This fine book steers the study of antebellum politics back on course from the diversion of ethnocultural historians.-The New Republic The main thrust of Nativism and Slavery, and what makes it both interesting and valuable, is the very powerful and convincing argument put forward by the author, and buttressed by numerous statistical tables, charts and maps, that the unparalleled success of the Know Nothings in the mid-1850s occurred because Northerners chose to express their intense antislavery sentiments through this party.-New York Times Book Review A first-rate study of the political realignment patterns of the 1850s in general and the Know Nothing movement in particular....An essential book in the bibliography of antebellum U.S.-Gerald Michael Schnabel, Bemidji State Universityshow more

Back cover copy

In this important book, Anbinder argues that the Know Nothing's phenomenal success in the pre-Civil War era was inextricably linked to their anit-immigrant and anit-Catholic political agenda as well as to the firm stance their northern members took against the extension of slavery. Nativism and Slavery presents the first comprehensive history of the Know Nothings and a new perspective of the political crisis that let to the Civil War.show more

About Tyler Gregory Anbinder

About the Author Tyler Anbinder is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wyoming. He specializes in Civil War era politics and American immigration.show more

Rating details

24 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 17% (4)
4 42% (10)
3 38% (9)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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