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Nativism (politics) : United States Early Republic


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Early Republic
Nativism was a political factor in the 1790s and in the 1830s-1850s. There was little nativism in the colonial era, but for a while Benjamin Franklin was hostile to German Americans in colonial Pennsylvania; He called them "Palatine Boors." However, he reversed himself and became a supporter.

Nativism became a major issue in the late 1790s, when the Federalist Party expressed its strong opposition to the French Revolution by trying to strictly limit immigration, and stretching the time to 14 years for citizenship. At the time of the Quasi-War with France in 1798, the Federalists and Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, including the Alien Act, the Naturalization Act and the Sedition Act. The movement was led by Alexander Hamilton, despite his own status as an immigrant from a small Island. Phillip Magness argues that “Hamilton’s political career might legitimately be characterized as a sustained drift into nationalistic xenophobia.” Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fought by drafting the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. The two laws against aliens were motivated by fears of a growing Irish radical presence in Philadelphia, where they supported Jefferson. However, they were not actually enforced. President John Adams annoyed his fellow Federalists by making peace with France, and splitting his party in 1800. Jefferson was elected president, and reversed most of the hostile legislation.

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