Mass. Public Officials Must Brush Aside The Know-Nothings’ Legacy Of Bigotry

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Last week, Pioneer Institute Executive Director Jim Stergios sent a letter to Governor Baker and the leaders of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Senate asking them to support our call to move the portrait of Know-Nothing Governor Henry J. Gardner from its current location at the entrance to the House of Representatives.

Gov. Gardner and that 19th century political party he led, the Know-Nothings – the most infamous party in state history – promulgated bigotry against Irish-Catholic immigrants. Their legal agenda left a legacy that persists today – the Know-Nothings’ constitutional amendment prevents tens of thousands of poor and minority kids from attending high-quality private and parochial schools. Below, you can read an excerpt of Jim Stergios’ letter, or click here to read it in its entirety.

Dear Governor Baker,

On August 1st, Pioneer Institute, together with the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, the Center for Education Reform and the Friedman Foundation, held an event at the Grand Staircase entitled “Move This Portrait: The Know-Nothing Governor and Barriers to School Choice.” We are grateful to Representative John H. Rogers for being our legislative sponsor.

At the event, we called for moving the portrait of Know-Nothing Governor Henry J. Gardner from its place of prominence at the entrance to the House of Representatives. Let me share our reasoning. Read more…

The letter makes clear that Pioneer’s advocacy on this issue is not motivated by a desire to hide from or erase the ugly Know-Nothing chapter from Massachusetts history, but rather to reserve places of prominence in the State House for figures who are worthy of honor and respect. If you feel the same way, let your civic leaders know.

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Watch video clips of Pioneer’s Aug. 1st forum on this topic:

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