Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Douglas Davidson

Second Advisor

Thomas Ford

Third Advisor

Mitch Kachun

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Historically, American democracy has been based on a policy of exclusion where the empowered have enjoyed the luxury of deciding which groups would be eligible to participate fully in the great American experiment--a flawed system based upon discriminatory notions of class, racism, sexism, and nativism. Richard Hofstadter's paranoia interpretation--that irrational beliefs in conspiracies led to civic participation in exclusionary movements--provides some rationale for this exclusionary behavior.

Taking a multidisciplinary approach, this paper applies the social psychological theory of frustration-aggression analysis in conjunction with Hofstadter's paranoia interpretation in an attempt to further understand exclusionary behavior in American history. In particular, this work analyzes the nativist movement of the antebellum period as well as how the political culture of paranoia sustained the movement's chief protagonist--the Know Nothing party.

Included in

Sociology Commons