Xenophobia In The 19th Century

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America in the mid-19th century was a powder keg waiting to explode. The division of culture between the North and South was at an all-time high and in the early 1840’s the population of the United States was drastically changing. Settlers were rushing westward to form new territories while Immigrants from Europe were leaving their countries to settle in the United States. This movement of people into and around the United States led to the furthering of disunion and political developments, because it furthered xenophobic ideologies and it perpetuated political violence. The population of mid-19th century America was predominantly made up of the white ruling class, poor/working class whites, and enslaved African Americans. In the South, most …show more content…
In the North, most of the population were working class factory workers that lived in centralized cities. Although the structure of the populations varied so widely between the North and South, the populations shared a xenophobic anti-immigrant view. Northern factory workers feared that immigrants would move to Northern cities and undercut their hourly pay. Southern farmers feared that immigrants would push them out of work on farms by working for lower wages. In the late 1840’s a great famine swept through the country of Ireland. This famine lead to the mass immigration of poor Irish Catholics to the United States. The current political parties at the time did not make xenophobia to be a primary issue. The Know Nothing party was created as a response to anti-immigration sentiments. As The New York Times stated, the Know Nothing party was founded upon “… such a movement rests upon no broader basis, than the hatred of men because they were born on a different soil, and still less because they hold a religious faith different from our own….” . Furthermore, the Know Nothing party swept through American Politics like a wildfire as stated by The New York Times “… what this movement …show more content…
New territories were being formed while the North and South both had strongly held beliefs that contradicted each other. This conflict of ideologies lead to unprecedented violence. The Northern states were trying to stem the tide of slavery by limiting its spread to new territories. The Southern states saw this as a move to control their state’s rights by the federal government. This state’s rights argument was most prominently displayed by the Mobile Register. The Newspaper stated “We simply say to the North, we are your equals in the Union, attend to your affairs and leave us quietly to manage ours… Do not destroy this community, by Federal legislation,” . The potential for violence boiled over in the new formed territory of Kansas. The Missouri Compromise was supposed to limit the spread of slavery into Kansas, but the Kansas-Nebraska act stated that the decision of whether or not Kansas and Nebraska would be slave territories would be solved by popular sovereignty. This encouraged as many anti-slavery and pro-slavery settlers as possible to move to the new territories to sway the decision. The violence started off as small quarrels between the two groups, but then militias were formed on both sides of the debate. The militias would raid, pillage, and murder to lower the amount of voters that could possible swing the decision. This brutality was deemed “Bleeding Kansas”. Senator Charles Sumner was an abolitionist

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