and Nativism in the Jacksonian Era
of anti-Catholic prejudice among American Protestants:
Day celebrations & Quebec Act fears in New England.
of Catholicism with superstition, corruption, mindless obedience to authority,
European monarchy. Belief that Catholics were unfit for self-government.
War of 1812, immigration from Germany and Ireland picked up, and the immigrants,
once mostly Protestants, became increasingly Catholic.
1830s, increased Catholic population led to an expanded and more assertive
Catholic Church, esp. in Midwest, aided by missionary groups (Leopold Assoc.).
resistance to Catholic expansion by evangelical Protestants, with wild CTs:
F.B. Morse, Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States
(1834), Lyman Beecher, A Plea for the West
(1835): Catholic Church seen as conspiring to destroy American
republicanism on behalf of European monarchy. Cartoon on this theme.
openly joined with nativism (opposition to immigration.) First nativist parties
such as the Native American Democratic Association.
& rumors about convents: girls held against will, turned into sex slaves of
priests. Burning of Mt. Benedict convent & school in Charlestown, Mass.,
Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk
(1836): Best-seller that told “true” story of sex & baby-killing in
Montreal’s Hotel Dieu convent by an alleged escapee.
Widely believed despite independent investigation &
author’s mental illness.
1840s, Catholic Church fought with state & city governments over Bible
reading & school funding and with congregations over church property.
Immigration & the Rise of Political Nativism
of the Irish Potato Famine of 1846
of potato crop in Ireland and Germany. Starvation
and cheaper passages led to huge wave of immigrants, poorer & more Catholic
than ever. Germans went to Midwest
(cities & farms), while Irish stayed in port cities, especially Boston &
was proportionally the biggest decade of immigration ever: 2.9 million people,
almost all Irish & German Catholic.
14% of 1845 pop., more than all previous U.S. history put together.
into Conspiracy: The Nativist Secret Societies
fear was that immigrants would vote en masse & take power, so Protestants
conspired to stop it, organizing secret societies like the Order of United
Americans. Election violence and corruption blamed on Catholic immigrants.
became huge factor in national politics in early 1850s, as Whig party was
falling apart due to slavery and temperance issues.
Catholic controversies revived, plus Catholics showed signs of political power,
and a papal nuncio, G. Bedini (“Butcher of Bologna”), visited the United
of the Star-Spangled Banner organized, set up like Masons but secret, with
members sworn to support no foreigners
or Catholics in elections.
became the “Know-Nothing” party & wiped out the Whigs by surprise in
1854 elections, controlling some state governments & sending members to
absorbed themselves by the Republicans themselves by 1856. Antimasons +
Know-Nothings + Antislavery Whigs & Dems = Republican Party.