The American Protective Association
, or APA
was an American anti-Catholic society
(similar to the Know Nothings
) that was founded in 1887
by Attorney Henry F. Bowers
in Clinton, Iowa
. It was most active between 1891 and 1897. Many members were Irish Protestants who belonged to the anti-Catholic Orange Order
or German and Scandinavian Lutherans. The APA's goals included restricting Catholic immigration, making use of English a prerequisite to American citizenship, removing Catholic teachers from public schools and banning Catholics from public offices.
At its height in 1896, the APA claimed 2,500,000 members and 20 sympathizers in Congress, but both the APA and its enemies always inflated the membership totals. For example, only one member of Congress acknowledged membership. At a time when it claimed hundreds of thousands of members in Michigan, the association had an empty treasury and was unable to reimburse the train fare for its state leader. In actuality the APA never enacted any of its legislation, and there is little evidence it achieved any political influence. In 1894, the APA was a major target of Democratic campaigners and in 1896, the APA attacked Republican leader William McKinley, who was elected President that year. By 1900 the APA had almost wasted away.
- Bennett, David H. The Party of Fear: From Nativist Movements to the New Right in American History (1988), ISBN 0807817724.
- Desmond, Humphrey J., " The American Protective Association", Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911.
- Kinzer, Donald L. Episode in Anti-Catholicism: The American Protective Association (1964), 364pp. the standard scholarly history
- Lipset, Seymour Martin and Earl Raab. The Politics of Unreason: Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970 (1970), ISBN 0060126477.