The Know-Nothing Party was a prominent United States political party during the late 1840s and the early 1850s. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Know-Nothings” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
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 in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
The Know-Nothings gain attention after several successful elections of members to office .
February 22 - 25, 1856
At the National American Party's Philadelphia Convention, Millard Fillmore is elected the Know-Nothing presidential candidate, but the Know-Nothings divide into two groups over abolition.
November 4, 1856
Fillmore loses the presidential election and the Know Nothing Party begins its decline in membership.