Samuel Morse (1791-1872) was an inventor born in Massachusetts and graduated from Yale in 1810. His father was a Puritan idealist, Calvinist preacher and supporter of the aristocratic Federalist Party. Though descended from foreign immigrants, especially those who decimated and enslaved the Pequot tribe of New England, Morse the younger developed a distaste for foreign immigrants.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org
Nativists in New York City
“[Nativists in the mid-1830s appealed] to anti-Catholic prejudices through lurid tales of illicit affairs among the clergy. Subscribers to local journals could read the serialized accounts of brothels and nunneries . . . [the New York Sun] fed its readers new accounts by a Rosamond Culbertson describing what she alleged to be the licentious practices of certain Roman Catholic clergy in safely distant Cuba.
Nativists and their sympathizers continued to play upon the prejudices of the populace in preparation for the election to be held in April 1836. Finding a suitable candidate [to carry the Nativist Party banner for mayor of New York City] proved difficult.
Finally, during the first week of April Samuel F. B. Morse was selected, thus ending the difficult search. During a sojourn in Europe (1829-1832) the artist-inventor developed an ardent dislike of foreigners, particularly Roman Catholics, and had an active fear of Jesuits and the Papacy.
As early as 1834 he had expressed these views vociferously in the New York Observer, a Protestant newspaper, and in his correspondence.
Despite his Nativist views, Morse was an ardent Jacksonian. He described his political views as “Democratic principles of the Jeffersonian school, as they stand opposed to aristocracy in all its shapes, ruinous monopolies, to a union of church and state.”
He explained his identification with the Nativists as resulting from a fear that these ideals were endangered by riots and lawlessness instigated by “priest-controlled machines.”
(Native Democratic Association in New York City, Leo Hershkowitz, New York Historical Quarterly, Volume XLVI, Number 1, January 1962, excerpts pp. 56-58)