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Topics in Chronicling America - The Know-Nothings

Officially the National American Party, the Know-Nothings enjoyed a quick but brief rise in fame in the 1850s. While firmly against Catholics and foreigners, the Know-Nothings, like the rest of the country in the pre-Civil War Days, would divide over the issue of slavery. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Headline about the origins of the Know-Nothings

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • Early 1854: The Know-Nothings start gaining attention after several successful elections of members to office
  • February 14, 1855: Arguing that the Know-Nothings are abolitionists
  • March 15, 1855: A critique of the Know-Nothings and their potential for success
  • July 4, 1855: The Know-Nothings further their intolerance to another religious group
  • August 25, 1855: Election results prove the abolitionist tendencies of the Know Nothings
  • September 15, 1855: The American Party is Un-American
  • September 20, 1855: Origin of the term 'Know-Nothings'
  • February 22-25, 1856: American Party Philadelphia Convention; Millard Fillmore elected the Know-Nothing presidential candidate; Know-Nothings divide into two groups over abolition
  • August 6, 1856: Exposing a newspaper’s affinity for the Know-Nothings
  • November 4, 1856: Fillmore badly loses the presidential election; the party dissolves Post
  • 1856: Anti-Know Nothing and anti-immigration sentiment continue to play large role in American politics

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Know Nothings, American Party, Order of the Star Spangled Banner, Millard Fillmore, Philadelphia Convention
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.
  • Be prepared to distinguish between the many articles that discuss the other major political parties and political movements of the time, especially the Native American Party.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  October 30, 2014
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