How did nationalism influence events in the United States during the 1800s?
Nationalism and the idea of what it is to be an American was one of the central issues in the United States during the 1800s that created alliances and divisions within the country that would eventually erupt in civil war.
In the 18th century, American nationalism was based on the constitution and what that represented; particularly its association with independence and freedom from foreign occupation. In the 19th century, however, a division had begun to arose in what this nationalism truly meant.
In the Northern states, many believed that all members of the United States were citizens and that slavery imposed on that right, restricting others from enjoying that liberty and lessening the integrity of the American nation as a whole. In the Southern States, however, American nationalism largely became a segregated affair, with only white males having any form of true social liberty within society and slaves or non-whites being viewed as “less than”.
This division in the idea of American identity was the central reason behind the outbreak of the American Civil War, with the central issue being slavery and the question of whether a civilian’s responsibility is to the state or to the nation.
The victory of the Northern Union over the Southern Confederacy led to the formal death of Southern Nationalism, although it largely remain within society until well into the later parts of the 20th century.