H105, American History I

Lecture 18:  Transition to Democracy — Immigration and “American” Identity

I.  Race and immigration
II.  From environmentalism to essentialism — from the explanation of culture to the explanation of nature
III.  The rise and fall of mainstream nativist politics

1815-1855 Irish Immigration to United States
1815-1845 800,000 in 30 years
1845 Great Famine in Ireland
1845-1855 1,800,000 in 10 years

1860s-1870s Magazine Imagery
1867 illustration
1876 cover, “The Ignorant Vote”

1830s Popularization of New “Sciences”
phrenology — study of bumps on head
physiognomy — study of facial features
craniology — study of skulls

1810-1866 Rise of Essentialism
1866 physiognomy textbook
1810 monogenesis and environmentalism:  Samuel Stanhope Smith, Essay on the Causes of the Varieties of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species
1839 polygenesis and essentialism:  Samuel Morton, Crania Americana

Theories of Humanity
18th century theory

monogenesis — one creation, one species with variation

environmentalism — culture stronger than nature

                           — people CAN change (becoming)
19th century theory

polygenesis — multiple creations, separate “races” in hierarchy

essentialism — nature is stronger than culture

                   — people CANNOT change (being)

1843-1856 Nativist Movement
1843 “American Republican Party” organizaed locally in New York City and Philadelphia
1844 Philadelphia riot (20 killed)
1845 “United Sons of America” in Philadelphia (local fraternal order)
1845 renamed to “Native American Party” extended nationally
1849 “Order of the Star-Spangled Banner” (national fraternal order)
1853 renamed to American Party (strongest in MA, NY, PA)
1854 satirized as “Know Nothing” Party
1856 “American Party” splintered over slavery