Q: I have a printed piece of paper granting power to members of the “Know Nothing” party of Oneida County, N.Y. I would like to know the document’s value.
A: The Know Nothing Party was active in U.S. politics during the 1840s and 1850s. The party’s beliefs were anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic. Party members resented competition for jobs from immigrants and wanted to ban immigrants from holding government jobs. When asked about their beliefs, party members said, “I know nothing.” The Know Nothings adopted “American Party” as their official name in 1854 and won several elections. In 1856 Millard Fillmore, U.S. president from 1850 to 1853 as a member of the Whig Party, ran as the American Party candidate. He finished last. Disagreement over slavery ultimately destroyed the American Party, and by the 1860s it was gone. Memorabilia from the party is rare. If your document is original, it could be valuable. Any auction house that sells political memorabilia would be interested in taking a look at it. A Know Nothing Flag recently sold for $42,300 at auction.