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Reading progress update: I've read 5 out of 236 pages.

The Know Nothing Party In Massachusetts: The Rise And Fall Of A People's Movement - John R. Mulkern

From the introduction:

It was indeed the transcendent force of modernization that accounts for the unparalleled strength of Know-Nothingism in Massachusetts. The political fallout from the pressures of modernization, however, included more than the backlash of the native-born majority against immigrants, Catholics, and the South that most historians perceive as the essence of Know-Nothingism. Explosive urban and industrial growth had thrust the Commonwealth into the forefront of the industrial states in the antebellum period, creating, in the process, wrenching social and economic dislocations. The failure of the established parties to mount a significant response to the myriad issues and problems spawned in the matrix of modernization weakened partisan attachments and set the rank and file of the established parties on a quest for a political vehicle that would make a difference in their lives. In 1854, such a vehicle materialized in the form of an antiparty, antipolitician populist movement that promised to cleanse the statehouse of corrupt old parties and self-serving political careerists and turn the government over to the people so that they might right the wrongs that had for so long afflicted them. Among the afflictions, it is true, were the many social problems associated with mass immigration; but there were other troubling and pervasive concerns endemic to an unharnessed, rapidly expanding urban, industrial order, including the tyrannical factory system, the decline in the status of labor, the widening gulf between rich and poor, and the deteriorating quality of urban life.

 I suspect that a paragraph different only in some of the details will be written in a few years about the movement we're grappling with today.