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The Reader's Companion To American History
The Most Notable Quotes Since 1950
Eric Foner, and John A. Garraty, Editors

The Reader's Companion To American History
Sponsored by the Society of American Historians and edited by eminent historians John Garraty and Eric Foner, The Reader’s Companion to American History offers more than 1,000 entries covering the critical events, issues and individuals that have shaped American History.

Entries include brief descriptions, longer interpretative essays, and hundreds of thematic articles that provide a fresh, engaging approach to the exploration of the past. Students, teachers, and history aficionados will all find The Reader’s Companion to American History a useful source of quick reference and background articles.

More than a reference book to be consulted simply for the dates or details of an event, the Companion offers a history of ideas. It distinguishes itself from conventional encyclopedias by featuring several hundred thematic articles. A chronological account of immigration, for example, is complemented by a conceptual article on ethnicity. Interactive cross-references lead users from individual articles about the Bull Moose party and the Know-Nothings to an article on third parties in American politics.

Key Features:

• More than 1,000 articles that cover every critical individual, event and idea in American history, making it a complete reference resource.
• Nearly 400 contributors from institutions including Harvard, Amherst, Columbia, Duke, Yale, Princeton, Annapolis, among many others, give this book unmatched authority.
• Offered in rich SGML with interactive cross-references, the book is easily integrated into Web and other electronic applications.

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Sample Entry:

Know-Nothing Party

The American party of the 1850s derived its informal name from its members replying, when asked about their role, "I know nothing." The party was anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant. It grew out of the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, a secret society apparently founded in New York City in 1849. In the wake of the collapse of the Whigs and the Democratic split over the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 and 1855, its supporters won several offices, including mayor of Philadelphia and control of the Massachusetts legislature. Some northern Know-Nothings also sought to cooperate with antislavery forces not yet prepared to join an official Republican party.

When the Know-Nothing party endorsed the Kansas-Nebraska Act at its presidential nominating convention in 1856, northern members bolted. Southern members nominated former president Millard Fillmore of New York for president and Andrew J. Donelson of Tennessee for vice president. Most northern Know-Nothings tenuously supported the Republican candidate, John C. Fremont. Fillmore tried to distance himself from the party’s nativist tendencies but carried only Maryland. The Know-Nothing party soon dissolved.

See also Elections: 1856; Nativism.