Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/American Party, The

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

AMERICAN PARTY, THE, the name of three separate organizations which at different times held a prominent place in the political affairs of the United States. The first, organized about 1852, at a time when the Whig party was near its dissolution was, in fact, a secret society, and was better known in later years as the “Know Nothings,” from the assumed ignorance of its members when questioned in regard to the objects and name of the order. Its principal doctrine was opposition to all foreigners and Roman Catholics, and its motto was “Americans must rule America.” The first National Convention of the party was held in February, 1856, at which resolutions were adopted, demanding a lengthening of the residence necessary to naturalization, and condemning President Pierce's administration for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. A number of the members withdrew because of the refusal to consider a resolution regarding the restriction of slavery. Millard Fillmore, of New York, was nominated for President, and Andrew Jackson Donelson for Vice-President, which nominations were subsequently indorsed by the Whig Convention. Fillmore carried but one State, Maryland. The party was successful in carrying the State elections in Rhode Island and Maryland in 1857, but never gained any popularity in the Western States. A second party, bearing the same name, but directly adverse to the first in that it was founded in opposition to secret societies, was organized for political purposes by the National Christian Association. The organization was completed and the name adopted at a convention in Syracuse, N. Y., in 1874. At Pittsburgh, June 9, 1875, a platform was adopted in which were demanded recognition of the Sabbath, the introduction of the Bible into public schools, prohibition of the sale of liquors, the restriction of land monopolies, resumption of specie payment, etc. James B. Walker of Illinois was nominated for President. In 1880, the party again made nominations, and in 1884, S. C. Pomeroy was nominated, but withdrew in favor of John P. St. John, the Prohibition candidate. The third party to be called by the name of American party was organized at a convention held at Philadelphia, Sept. 16-17, 1887. Its principal aims, as set forth in its platform, were: To oppose the existing system of immigration and naturalization of foreigners; to demand its restriction and regulation so as to make a 14-years' residence a prerequisite of naturalization; to exclude from the benefits of citizenship all anarchists, socialists, and other dangerous characters, etc.