The Donald Trump of the 1840s
A tide of anti-immigrant rage among working-class voters. Warnings that the America we know is on the verge of extinction. One leader rides the wave of anger. Sound familiar?
Image courtesy Villanova University
On a stormy Monday afternoon in the spring of 1844, a stout, well-built, 35-year-old Philadelphia newspaper editor ascended a makeshift podium assembled from a stack of packing boxes. Surrounded by some three thousand of his fervent supporters – butchers, grocers, carpenters and craftsman, many armed for this occasion – Lewis Charles Levin had come to the main market in Philly’s heavily Irish-Catholic neighborhood of Kensington. He was there to rail against the rising tide of Catholic immigrants taking jobs from proud Pennsylvania-born Protestants, and the resulting “consequence upon American liberty” he vowed would surely come of admitting even more foreigners. Unsurprisingly, Kensington’s Irish residents did not take kindly to Levin’s provocation and within minutes he had more to dodge than the water pouring down from the heavens. Vegetables were hurled his way, followed by bricks and stones. Levin’s livid supporters responded in kind, sending the …