Bell Ringers

Bell Ringer: The Know-Nothing and Republican Parties

The Republican Party leading up to the Civil War

Issues of anti-slavery and anti-immigrants.


Author David Goldfield discusses the Republican Party of the mid-19th centuryprior to the Civil War,and their platform in support of anti-immigration and anti-slavery laws.

Bell Ringer Assignment

  • Where did the Know-Nothing Party get its nickname? What was its formal name?
  • According to Mr. Goldfield, which issue was of most importance to the Know-Nothing Party? Why did they seek to merge with the Republican Party?
  • What were the Republican Party's views on Irish-Catholic immigration, slavery and slave holders? How did these views relate to the view of the Know-Nothing Party?
  • How did the slogan used in Abraham Lincoln's 1858 campaign reflect the merger of the Know-Nothing and Republican Parties?

Additional Resources



  • Anti-slavery
  • Campaign Slogans
  • Civil Rights
  • Immigration
  • Lincoln-douglas Debates
  • Political Polarization
  • The Know-nothing Party
  • The Republican Party


U.S. History


Middle SchoolHigh School