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in anthropology, social movement that proclaims the return to power of the natives of a colonized area and the resurgence of native culture, along with the decline of the colonizers. The term has also been used to refer to a widespread attitude in a society of a rejection of alien persons or culture. Nativism occurs within almost all areas of nonindustrial culture known to anthropologists. One of the earliest careful studies of nativism was that of James Mooney (1896), who studied the Ghost Dance among Native Americans of the W United States. In 1943, Ralph Linton published a brief paper on nativistic movements that served to establish the phenomenon as a special topic in anthropological studies of culture change.


See A. Wallace, The Death and Rebirth of the Seneca (1972) and J. Higham, Strangers in the Land (1988).


  1. (PSYCHOLOGY) the theoretical stance which emphasizes the importance of heredity, the biological underpinnings of human behaviour, rather than the effect of the environment.
  2. the negative orientation of any indigenous population to immigrants. See also NATURE–NURTURE DEBATE.


Nativism is dedicated to the proposition that the United States was founded to serve only white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

Nativism is a defensive, often violent, reaction to unrestricted immigration. In the United States, nativism is an intense form of nationalism that expresses itself in xenophobia (fear of foreigners), anti-Catholicism, and belief in white Anglo-Saxon Protestant supremacy.

In 1848, after a series of European revolutions had rocked the Old World, approximately three million immigrants arrived in the United States. Negative reaction to the influx was intensified among the postcolonial Protestant majority on the East Coast because many of the new arrivals happened to be from Roman Catholic countries.

Secret societies, such as the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, organized by Charles B. Allen in 1849, had memberships of “Godfearing Protestants,” who were dedicated to ensuring that native-born, non-Catholic Americans would receive preferential treatment in all avenues of social and political society. Members of such secret groups became known as the “Know-Nothings” because none of them would admit knowing anything about the clandestine societies. The Nativists gained strength and some degree of respectability when they went public in 1854 and established the American Party. The new political group was strongly anti-Irish-Catholic and worked for legislation that would require twenty-one years of waiting time before anyone could become a U.S. citizen. The American Party lost its influence when former president Millard Fillmore, the party’s presidential candidate in the election of 1856, was soundly defeated.

References in periodicals archive ?
These events took place against the background of the growing Repeal movement in Ireland under Daniel O'Connell and the xenophobic Nativist movement in the New England states.
Even before the nativist sentiment emerged, growing numbers of talented immigrants had been abandoning lives in the United States to return to their homelands.
On the first day, Protestant workmen some 3,000 strong, invaded the Irish Catholic community of Kensington, leaving eleven nativists wounded and one dead.
McBrien, he should spend some time with Catholic communities on the border and he should read up on nativist attacks against his fellow Irish back in the last century.
This in turn raises the issue of just what were the distinctively "Irish" values and attitudes that Irish-American teachers allegedly purveyed in their own classrooms, that were instrumental in "Americanizing" their pupils, and yet were regarded as threatening by nativist and Progressive critics?
Likewise, in the minds of the reconquistas, the nativists warrant their anti-Americanism: See, the whites hate us and want us ethnically cleansed
Like nineteenth-century nativists and their latter-day variants, the editors and writers of the Standard worried that Protestants might become complacent, accommodate Catholicism, and start the nation down a slippery slope toward religious tyranny.
Chalmers identifies "a loose, violent white supremacist network of cults, compounds, tax resisters, constitutionalists, churches, racists, nativists, anti-Semites, Nazis, paramilitary training camps, posses, militias, survivalists, bombers, bank robbers, skinheads, and millenialists as well as the bedraggled and depleted legions of Klansmen and Klanswomen" (163-64).
This fact is what gives him such confidence that the efforts of the Nativists and Know-Nothings would in the end prove self-defeating.
The Dead Rabbits and the Nativists are two gangs who rule the poorest neighbourhoods in the Big Apple with an iron fist.
Priest" was the leader of an Irish mob known as The Dead Rabbits, while the fearsome Cutting rules the home-grown Nativists, who'd prefer to shoot every immigrant before they set foot on American soil.
The film begins in the corrupt and crime-riddled streets of the Five Points in lower Manhattan, where two gangs - the Dead Rabbits - filled with Irish Immigrants and led by Priest Vallon (Liam Neeson), regularly fight in bloody battles with Bill the Butcher's (Daniel Day Lewis) racist Nativists, who want the immigrants to go back to where they came from.