Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Republicans and the Know-nothing Party

There has been an inner tension within the Republican party, as a result of its incorporation of the Know-nothings. The Republican party of today bears little, if any resemblance to the party of Lincoln's day. The Know-nothing DNA has come to the forefront in our day.

from Mark Noll, Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the Present https://books.google.com/books?id=lso0OlMf_oUC&pg=PA462#v=onepage&q&f=false

Noll writes,
"Explicit anti-catholicism emerged as the major political issue in the 1850's. In 1856, the anti-Catholic, nativist Know-nothing party won 21 percent of the popular vote for its candidate, Millard Fillmore. Then it merged with the antislavery and purely regional Republican party. The result was that the Republican party had a strong Puritan evangelical component, bent on regulating the society according to Christian principles. Anti- slavery was the great achievement of this outlook, but anti-alcohol and anti-Catholicism components were just as much its trademarks.
One thing this party was doing was establishing an insider-vs. outsider mentality toward America and Americanism. Ethnically, it was predominantly British; economically, it was thoroughly allied with the business community. Both these features reinforced its insider view of itself. The Puritan-Methodist ethic of self-help, moral discipline and social responsibility dominated much of American education and defined its version of Americanism.

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