Thursday, December 17, 2015

#NativismSyllabus - Guest post by Dr. Michael Landis, Assistant Professor of History


On June 17, 2015, neo-Confederate white supremacist Dylan Roof entered the historic Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, SC and murdered nine black parishioners.  The event, though sadly not unusual in the history of the United States, sparked immediate and profound national outrage.  In the aftermath, symbols of the Confederacy began to be removed and Americans struggled to come to grips with centuries of white supremacy terrorism.  A product of that struggle was the #CharlestonSyllabus (, compiled by the African American Intellectual History Society.  Scholars from around the world contributed to the list of the most important primary and secondary sources to understand what had happened in Charleston and what it meant for American society.

Since the summer of 2015, other issues have arisen to anger Americans and ignite impassioned debate, namely the role of newly-arrived immigrants in American society.  Syrians fleeing devastation and civil war in their home country; Central Americans yearning for jobs, security, and a better life – their arrival in the United States triggered alarm and fear among many Americans.  Politicians stoked the flames of hate, anger, and hostility, eager to ride this issue into high office.  Some politicos grabbed headlines by making wild accusations about foreign-born Americans and the dangers of the Islamic faith, suggesting national religious registries, internet censorship, and racial quotas.

Nativism – the fear of immigrants and the desire to deny them rights – has long been part of United States history.  Manifesting most famously (and effectively) in the Know Nothings of the 1850s, Chinese Exclusionists of the 1880s, the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s, and Japanese Internment in the 1940s, nativism has proven a powerful force in American politics.  The books, essays, articles, and primary sources below provide a comprehensive road-map for understanding American nativism and immigration.

#NativismSyllabus was conceived and compiled by Dr. Michael Landis (@DrMichaelLandis), with the help of Margie Maxfield.  The hashtag started trending on December 8, 2015, in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Ms. Margie Maxfield, MSIS, is the Systems Librarian at Tarleton State University.

Dr. Michael Todd Landis is an Assistant Professor of History at Tarleton State University, board member of Historians Against Slavery (, and author of Northern Men with Southern Loyalties: The Democratic Party and the Sectional Crisis (


Essays/ Articles:

Primary Sources:

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