Let's take a look at the Know-Nothings:
The Know-Nothing party was an antiforeign, anti-Roman Catholic political organization that flourished in the United States between 1852 and 1856. Nativism had been growing since the mid-1840s in response to massive immigration, especially from Ireland and Germany. Many of these immigrants had become part of urban DEMOCRATIC political machines, much to the resentment of non-Democratic old-stock Americans.In other words, they were a reaction to the political exploitation of minorities.
Then as now, political bosses knew they needed votes, and they knew how to get them. They'd extort money from criminals and businesses and use it to do favors for votes. Immigrants were a bargain compared to other groups - they were needy, and a few cheap favors could buy their votes forever. (Organized crime figures were known for doing exactly the same thing. For one, Al Capone operated soup kitchens during the Depression as part of a PR offensive to keep the heat off).
There have been some big Republican political machines, but most of them, and the most notorious of them, have always been with Democrats (Richard Daley's Chicago, Tom Pendergast's Chicago, and the New York City of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall were three prominent examples). They all had their ways of corrupting voters, especially immigrants.
And IMO, rightly understood, that's exactly what govt social programs are. Despite the claims of goo-goos and other useful idiots, they're nothing but the traditional Democrat political machine's voter corruption process gone national. Only this time they're buying their votes with your money.
Maybe they knew something after all.