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American Protective Association

European and American Roman Catholic writers link the American Protective Association with Freemasonry, and classify it as either a camouflaged "political arm" of the Craft or as a Side Order. This is not true. It is a matter of known history, of which the records are preserved, that the A.P.A, was never in any manner either connected with Masonry or encouraged by it. The A.P.A, was founded in Clinton, Iowa (a small town in an agricultural district), by seven men "to combat Roman Catholic influence in public schools and in politics.'' Its founders announced that they did not oppose Roman Catholicism as a religion; nor Roman Catholics as foreigners; they denied that theirs was a "nativistic" movement, or that it was based on racial issues like the Ku Klux Klan; and insisted that they were only opposed to church interference in politics and the schools. The founder, H. F. Bowers, a Clinton attorney and a Methodist, was Supreme President until 1893, when he was succeeded by W. J. H. Traynor. The A.P.A. was an active force in politics throughout the 1890's, and established branches in Canada, England, and Mexico. It was at one period closely connected with the Junior Order of United American Mechanics.

Though not one of the "nativistic'' crusades it nevertheless followed the same curve as they of rapid early development followed by a general decline, of which the typical case was the once famous Know-Nothing Party. Historians recognize four well-established reasons for the general lack of success of patriotic secret societies: their field is too narrow to keep members interested; they are captured by professional politicians; they tend to split up; and Americans, like English-speaking peoples everywhere, dislike secret political or patriotic organizations and prefer to keep their politics in the public forum of open discussion.

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