On Know Nothings and Secret Societies – 8

Few would argue that a resurgence of nativism in the mid-19th century had a rational footing. It was, rather, “a nonrational response to contemporary problems” in “an age of social upheaval, an age of deprivation, stress, and imminent disaster.” The nation was not facing civil war because of immigration from Ireland and Germany. The dislocations […]

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On Know Nothings and Secret Societies – 6

With the election of 1854, a stunning demonstration of the Know Nothings’ magnetic appeal, nativism became a new American rage. Know Nothing candy, Know Nothing tea, and Know Nothing toothpicks were marketed, buses and stagecoaches received the charmed name, the clipper ship Know Nothing was launched in New York. Books appeared with “KN” on the […]

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On Know Nothings and Secret Societies – 1

Bits of white paper strewn across a prearranged site announced the meeting of the brotherhood. Held at night, in keeping with the secrecy that shrouded its early years, the sessions of the local chapters of the Order of the Star Spangled Banner were open only to initiates and those about to join them in the […]

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Political History Word of the Day – Jingoistic

I ran across the word “jingoistic” tonight in my reading of a fascinating book, The Party Of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement by David H. Bennett. jingoistic adjective fanatically patriotic [syn: chauvinistic] jin·go·ism Extreme nationalism characterized especially by a belligerent foreign policy; chauvinistic patriotism. jin’go·ist n., jin’go·is’tic adj.,  jin’go·is’ti·cal·ly […]

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