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Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century

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Nationalism spread throughout Europe like fire in the Yellow Stone Park. And like fire, the effects that Nationalism had caused were both eminent yet horrendous. Nationalism united people into nation-states, toppled empires composed of many ethnic minorities, and contributed to the outbreak of wars in the nineteenth century. For example, Germany was united by Otto von Bismarck, France by the French Revolution, and Italy by Garibaldi and Cavour, all because of the nationalistic effect. They united as a country because of their pride and brotherhood.

However, empires with minorities such as Austria Hungary, Italy, and the Slavic were separated in the process. They felt that other ethnicities would hold them back, and if broken away from them, would aid them in the success of their country. Nationalism contributed to the many wars fought during that period, such as the countless wars fought by Germany, France, and the Slavs. They were fought in order to separate themselves from other nations, or keep other ethnicities out of their newly united nation. Nationalism, although unknown at the time, created a domino effect in Europe.

As nationalism and its ideas began the journey across Europe, it started to unite people into nation states. One of the prime examples of this unity is Germany. Before Germany was united as a whole in 1871, the nation was separated into Germanic states and Prussia. Determined to unite them into Germany because of their ethnicity, Wilhelm hired Otto Von Bismarck, who was just the guy to bring everyone together. Bismarck had used carefully thought out tactics to unite the Germanic states. They needed Prussia in order to become a powerful Germany. “Prussia….could no longer carry alone the power Germany required for its security” [Bismarck, Document 5]. Finally getting Prussia after the Franco-Prussian War, Germany was then united as a proud and powerful Germanic nation. The French were also united through Nationalism.

After realizing their potential as a nation without their tyrannical king, they joined forces together as a nation and fought the French Revolution. “…to excite hatred of kings and to preach the unity of the Republic” [Levee en Masse, Document 1]. The Italians were united with the help of Cavour and Garibaldi. Cavour believed that the full potential of the Italians could only be reached if he drove out the other ethnicities. By doing so, he helped unite Italy. Garibaldi added other countries such as the Southern Kingdom of the Two Sicillies to Italy, bringing their ethnic brothers even closer together. He earned the loyalty of other Italians, who supported Garibaldi, which eventually lead to the unification of Italy. “Let him who loves his country in his heart, and not with his lips only, follow me” [Garibaldi, Document 4]. In order for them to unite a nation, however, some of the ethnicities within the nation had to be driven out.

Empires with too many ethnic minorities would be unable to unite as a nation, since there were too many dissimilar ethnicities to possibly hold a common bond. In order to break down this wall standing in the way of being united, these ethnicities would have to be impelled out of the nation. Austria Hungary consisted of many different ethnicities, including the Czechs, Romanians, Hungarians, Serbians, Italians, and Austrians. These ethnicities felt as though they were superior compared to the other ethnicities, and pushed for their own united nation. However, all of these ethnicities felt the same way, so they divided themselves, eventually leading to the centrifugal breakdown of Austria Hungary. [Document 7] As mentioned before, Italy could only unite themselves by driving out the other ethnicities. This would only leave the Italians, and would be best for their growth as an ethnicity.

The other ethnicities would not be suitable in intelligence for them, and would only slow them down. Italy believed that only Italians could provide the power and glory in which they strived for. They thought as though they were exceptional compared to the others. “We want to drive out foreigners not only because we want to see our country powerful and glorious, but because we want to elevate the Italian people in intelligence and moral development” [Cavour, Document 3]. The Ottoman Empire is yet another example of a an empire that was broken down due to these ethnicities. The Slavs that were located in the Ottoman Empire felt the need for their own nation. Wishing to be united with their brothers, they began to fight the Ottoman Empire in order to break free of the chains that they were held to.

The Slavs began to slowly separate from the Ottoman Empire, leaving them in a weakened state. Because of their diverse cultures and ethnicities, they did not get wish to be part of the Ottoman Empire. “….I am a nationalist. I aimed to free the Yugoslavs. For I am a Yugoslav…” [Princep, Document 6]. They had wished for Pan-Slavism. Pushing out other ethnicities peacefully was a challenging task to achieve. The only way they would be able to unite themselves and force other ethnicities out was through war.

War between different ethnicities and nations was a direct outcome of Nationalism. The only reasonable way they could possibly settle any disputes in uniting nations or throwing out other ethnicities was through fighting. Otto Von Bismarck of Germany completely symbolized this idea. Bismarck believed that the only way he would be able to unite Germany was if he created wars. Wars to Bismarck meant that Germany would have to unite out of brotherhood in order to defend themselves from incoming attacks. War was the distraction that led Germany to its unification. “We could get not nearer our goal by speeches, associations, or decisions by the majority….This contest could only be settled by blood and iron” [Otto Von Bismarck, Document 5]. The French also had similar ideas to Germany. In order to unify themselves as a republic, they would first have to fight and keep out the kings who disrupted their goal.

The king was their enemy, and together they would have to unite and fight in order to rid the king. “…cruel tyrants have raised their bloody flag…they come into your arms…to attack your children and your fields……To arms citizens…..To liberty or death!” [Marseillaise, Document 2]. The Slavs also wished to be separated from the Ottoman Empire in order to unite with their brothers. The Otttoman Empire did not allow this, and with such a case, they revolted and fought for their freedom. War was their only choice to their ideal nation. Rebellions occurred all over and battles were fought to be separated. “..I aimed to free the Yugoslavs. For I am a Yugoslav…” [Princep, Document 6]. Princep believed that assassinating Franz Ferdinand would improve the chances of a freed Yugoslavia. Nationalism directed these nations down the path of war.

Nationalism had many positive and negative outcomes on Europe. All of them were led from one to another, creating a domino effect. In order for nations to be united, other ethnicities were to be driven out of the nation by force, which to them, could only be accomplished through war. Nationalism was the start of all these outcomes, slowly intertwining within each other. It drastically changed the way Europe was divided and united. And just like dominoes, this game would be constantly played over and over again.

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