The American Party in the Pierce Administration
The American Party was only nominally affiliated with the earlier Native American Party. The earlier party had an identical policy focus, but the American Party was based upon a secret society formed in 1849 by Charles B. Allen of New York State. This secret society, named the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, was the first to require its members not to answer questions regarding the organization (hence the label "Know Nothings").
The OSSB became the dominant secret society in the years 1852-1854. During this time, Catholic bishops asked states for money to operate their schools and directed Catholic children in public schools not to use the King James Version of the Bible. OSSB leaders reached out to all levels of society, claiming that the Catholics were part of a grand conspiracy to overturn Protestantism in the USA. Since the organization survived on voluntary dues, its membership was open to anyone. A second contributing factor was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was supported by many Northern politicians and gave the impression that members of Congress of both parties were entirely out of touch with their constituents.
The first political test of the OSSB and its political organization, named the American Party, came in the 1854 elections. It scored many remarkable and unexpected victories throughout the North. At least 75 of its members were elected to the U.S. House in the 1854-55 elections as