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The Past Repeats Itself: Parallels Between 1850s Know Nothings And Today

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Harvard University Press
Jeffrey Amestoy’s book, "Slavish Shore: The Odyssey of Richard Henry Dana Jr.," is a biography of the 19th century Massachusetts lawyer.";

A populist and nativist political movement stunned skeptics when it swept into office after a fiercely contested election. That might describe the victory of President-elect Donald Trump, but it’s also true of the 1854 election, when the Know Nothing Party won nearly every elective office in Massachusetts.

One figure at the center of that historical moment was Richard Henry Dana, who argued for the rights of fugitive and freed slaves. His biographer, former Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy, says there are notable parallels between the Massachusetts election of 1854 and the presidential contest of 2016. Amestoy joins us to explain that historical moment and its consequences.

Also in the program, Sen. Bill Doyle. The longtime lawmaker lost his re-election bid to the state Senate after serving there for 48 years. He looks back on his time at the Statehouse.

Broadcast live on Friday, December 9, 2016, at noon; rebroadcast at noon.

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