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Background to the rise...
1854 Election
· In the mid-term elections, the Democrats lost 68 of their 91 states. Their support of the
Kansas-Nebraska Act was blamed...
· Before, Whigs would have benefited from Democrat unpopularity.
· But, by these elections, the Whigs were no longer influential in the North, as they had
previously run a two faced campaign, supporting slavery in the South and denouncing it
in the North.
· The Kansas-Nebraska Act has been seen as responsible for the Whigs collapse, though
divisions was also an issue.
· The politicians appeared to be loosing their grip on the issues that `the folks back home;
were interested in; issues of anti-immigration and anti-Catholicism.
­ (Ironic many who were against immigration, were immigrants themselves ...)
· The Decline of the two party system had started...
The Two party system ­ is where only 2 parties run for election and
only one has a chance of winning a majority.…read more

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1854 Election ~ Catholic Immigrants...
· Between 1845 ­ 1854, around 3 million immigrants entered the USA.
· More than 1 million were Irish Catholics, escaping the potato famine.
· German immigrants were also Catholic, though outnumbered Irish.
· As the Irish had fewer resources, they tended to settle in the North
· Natives accused Irish immigrants with taking jobs, increasing crime
and lowering the overall wages.
· Many protestants, mainly natives, feared a catholic plot due to the
increase in catholic churches. ­ It was believed that the Irish were
voting how their priests told them, hence threatening democracy.…read more

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1854 Election ~ Whig Failure...
· Most German and Irish voted Democrat ­ hence Democrats were
unlikely to support anti-immigration / anti-Catholicism measures.
· In 1852, Whigs were actively pro catholic, attempting to increase the
immigrant vote.
· It failed. Only a few Irish were swayed to vote Whig. Some voters,
who traditionally voted Whig, stayed at home instead of voting for a
party which was appeasing Catholics.
· By 1853, many Northerners had become alienated from Democrats
and Whigs ~ Who could they vote for now?
· Political alignment disintegrating had little to do with North / South
position, as the conflict was temporarily ceased.…read more

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1854 Election ~ The Know Nothings...
· An off-shoot of the Star-Spangled Banner, a nativist society, formed in 1849.
· In the early 1950s, the Know-Nothings gained support.
· Only American-born Protestant would be voted for.
· The order was very secretive, and unless a member, if a question was asked to
them, they would need to reply "I know Nothing..." Hence the name of the party.
· By 1854, it was a political party, often choosing men with little political experience.
­ Most wanted sharper regulations on immigration, and a 21 year period before
an immigrant could become a full citizen.
· Many Northerners supported due to their anti-establishment party
· By 1854, the Know-nothings had over 1 million members, and wielded political
· By 1855, mass popularity in several states led to its name becoming the American
Party.…read more

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1854 Election ~ The Republicans...
· Northerners were not concerned with Anti-Immigration
and Anti-Catholic issues.
· Slave Power had awakened through the Kansas-
Nebraska Act.
· By 1854, many anti-slave organisations were formed,
with many names. The Republican name caught.
· It was not clear whether 1854-1855 would see Know
Nothing or Republican support grow in the North.
· The two parties often wished to avoid conflict for
elections, hence would try and overthrow the
Democrats together.
· By 1854, it was clear that an ant-democrat Congress
would emerge.
· Though many political analysers thought that the Know
Nothings would be the main opposition to Democrats
by 1856, as it was analysed that the Republicans only
appealed to the North.…read more

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