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Bible Dictionaries

1910 New Catholic Dictionary

Knownothingism

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Term used to designate a lawless and unconstitutional movement in American politics, 1852-1858. It was an outgrowth of the Native American movement and aimed to deprive foreigners and all Catholics, particularly Irish Catholics, of private and civilrights. The property and persons of its innocent victims were subjected to revolting examples of mob violence. The adherents of the movement, mostly lawless bigots, and later called "Know-Nothings" from their habit of answering "I don't know," to all questions relating to their affairs, were united in New York City, 1852, under the title "National Council of the United States of North America." They swore an oath of secrecy in regard to their order, its membership, aim, etc., and promised to vote into public office only native-born Americans who were neither Catholic, nor married to Catholics. Their political prestige in the beginning was extraordinary. By 1855 they had seventy-five avowed Know-Nothings in Congress and had carried the elections in nine states; but they declined after their defeat by the National Democratic party, 1856.

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Bibliography Information
Entry for 'Knownothingism'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ncd/k/knownothingism.html. 1910.

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