| A strident Anti-Catholic cartoon depicting members of the Know-Nothing |
Party opposing the Pope as he arrives in America. (Library of Congress)
|Anti-immigrant cartoon showing two men labeled "Irish Whiskey" |
and "Lager Bier," carrying a ballot box.
Immigration during the first five years of the 1850s reached a level five times greater than a decade earlier. Most of the new arrivals were poor Catholic peasants or laborers from Ireland and Germany who crowded into the tenements of large cities. Crime and welfare costs soared. Cincinnati's crime rate, for example, tripled between 1846 and 1853 and its murder rate increased sevenfold. Boston's expenditures for poor relief rose threefold during the same period.
The Rise to National Prominence
|Platform of the American Party (Seth Kaller, Inc.)|
The spirit which enacted the Alien and Sedition laws, the spirit which actuated the "Know-nothing" party, the spirit which is forever carping about the foreign-born citizen and trying to abridge his privileges, is too deeply seated in the party. The aristocratic and know-nothing principle has been circulating in its system so long that it will require more than one somersault to shake the poison out of its bones.