Before there was a Tea Party there was the Know Nothing Party of the 1850's.
Like the Tea Party the Know Nothings were nativists whose hatred of foreigners was only slightly greater than their hatred of urban "elites."
The Know Nothings were terrified that America was being overrun by foreigners who didn't share their loyalty to the U.S. Constitution (Irish Catholics then, Mexican Catholics now). They saw an international conspiracy by a Semitic religion designed to conquer the nation (Jews then, Muslims now). They also hated Americans who were not as American-American as they were.
"When the Know Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." ~ Abe Lincoln, 1855
The similarities between the Tea Party and the Know Nothings is striking. 1856 Know Nothing Political Platform
* Know Nothings wanted to abolish naturalization laws; Tea Parties want to end citizenship to children born in this country to foreign parents.
* Prevent foreigners (Know Nothings) or Muslims (Tea Party), from serving in the military or elective office.
* War to the hilt on Romanism (Know Nothings) or Islam (Tea Party).
* Both want to punish poverty. Know Nothings wanted to deport foreign paupers, a Tea Party candidate wants to send poor Americans to prison.
The Know Nothings became powerful enough to run a candidate for president in 1856. Millard Fillmore was the Sarah Palin of his time. Judging from [the political campaigns of]the mid-term elections to date, may reach an equal level of influence.
Source: A Little Reality