Paul S. Boyer, et al., eds., The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, 6th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008), 406.
The Know-Nothings evolved out of a secret nativist organization, the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, founded in 1850. (The party's popular name, Know-Nothing, derived from the standard response of its members to inquiries about its activities: "I know nothing.") This order was one of many such societies that mushroomed in response to the unprecedented immigration of the 1840s. It had sought to rid the United States of immigrant and Catholic political influence by pressuring the existing parties to nominate and appoint only native-born Protestants to office and by advocating an extension of the naturalization period before immigrants could vote.