Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Wendy Hamand Venet - Chair

Second Advisor

Glenn T. Eskew


FOR UNION AND SLAVERY, FOR SLAVERY AND UNION: KNOW-NOTHINGS IN GEORGIA 1854-1860 by LESLYE JOY ALLEN Under the Direction of Dr. Wendy Hamand Venet ABSTRACT This thesis examines the Know-Nothing (or “American”) Party in the state of Georgia as a political entity whose leading members descended from the bipartisan Constitutional Union Party of Georgia in 1850. This thesis affirms that Georgia Know-Nothings emerged in 1854 and lasted until 1859 as a political party devoted to settling the sectional controversies brought on by the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. Their role in the 1856 presidential campaign of Millard Fillmore and the 1857 gubernatorial campaign of Benjamin Harvey Hill, along with their role and membership in the revitalized national Constitutional Union Party in 1860 are also critically examined. The major argument is that Georgia Know-Nothings were not nativist, but were conservative unionists whose aim was to protect slavery and prevent the secession of Georgia and the South by using ideologies and political techniques honed while they were members of Georgia’s Constitutional Union Party. INDEX WORDS: Georgia Know-Nothing Party, Benjamin H. Hill, Joshua Hill, Georgia Constitutional Unionists, Georgia Platform, Southern Unionism