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Know-Nothing Party

 Related Terms

• Kansas-Nebraska Act
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
• Whig Party
• Constitutional Union Party

Definition: political party that had its heyday in the 1840s and 1850s. Also known as the American Party, its members had a strong anti-immigrant stance that cut across slavery-abolitionist lines. The Passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 brought many more members into the Know-Nothing fold. (The party got its name, by the way, because its members would not for the longest time publicly admit their political views. When asked what they thought about the political issues of the day, they would say, "I know nothing.") They had, in 1855, 43 members of the party in Congress. Their only presidential candidate, Millard Fillmore, lost badly to Democrat Franklin Pierce in 1856. The party fell apart after that, with many of its followers joining some former members of the Whig Party (which had also fallen apart) to form the Constitutional Union Party.

Related Resources:
The Civil War
The Civil War was one of the most devastating events in American History. Read about the causes, see the heroes, and share the horror. Start here.

Elsewhere on the Web:
The Know-Nothing Party
Trace the details as they come together to form a new political party.

More on the Know-Nothing Party
Even more on the secretive society.

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