The Politics of Cultural Pluralism: Demographic Change and Partisan Response
Unsaved millions of foreigners are coming to our shores, forcing upon us one of the greatest missionary questions of modern evangelism, viz.: -- shall America be unamericanized, or shall the millions of our North American citizens be brought into sympathy with our Christian institutions through the church of Jesus Christ?
Minutes of the Maine Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1891
The continuing influx of the "unsaved" posed a missionary challenge, not only to religious groups, but to political parties as well. The size, sources, and skewed geographic settlement of the immigration impacted the ongoing process of party building. It combined with differential rates of growth among the subgroups of the nation's pre-1860 inhabitants to change the demographic quality of the electorate. And as the character of the electorate changed, clientele-conscious parties were forced to respond to new demographic realities.
Virtually every dimension of the nation's demographic structure changed materially over the second half of the nineteenth century. Between 1860 and 1890 total population increased from thirty-one million to sixty-one million, an increase of 98.5 percent; twenty-three million of that increase, or 77.4 percentage points of the total, occurred between 1870 and 1890.1 And as the total population increased, its sectional distribu-____________________