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Nationalism Essay, Research Paper

Nationalism has played an important role throughout world history. The quotations below express various views about nationalism.

Count Camillo di Cavour expressed the view that Italy should be free of foreign rule and that the Italian states should unite to form a single nation for the peninsula. In 1852 Cavour, the Prime Minister of the kindom of Sardinia, developed a plan to drive the Austrians out of the territories they controlled in Italy. He signed a secret treaty with Napoleon III of France and provoked Austria into declaring war on Sardinia. When France came to Sardinia’s aid, their combined forces forced Austria out of northern Italy. Inflamed by a desire for a free, united Italy, Italians in other provinces overthrew their rulers and joined the newly declared Kingdom of Italy. Cavour stirred the emotion of nationalism and provided a means to overcome the barriers to Italian unification. He succeeded in directing nationalistic feelings to unite most of Italy by 1861.

Sun Yat-sen believed that the Chinese people had a common culture and history, but lacked a national spirit. He referred to the Chinese as “a heap of loose sand” with no national spirit to bind them together. During the Revolution of 1911 he developed his Three Principles of the People (Nationalism, Democracy, and Socialism) to guide the period of transition following the overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. Under the first principle of nationalism, Sun called upon the people to think of themselves first as citizens of a nation rather than as members of families or clans. Nationalism also meant that foreigners should be driven out of China. Sun Yat-sen’s influence helped to end Manchu rule, but foreigners remained in control of parts of China until the Communist Revolution thiry-eight years later. The sense of nationalism that he helped the people of China develop continued to be a permanent factor in Chinese political history in the 20th century.

Gavrilo Princip was the Serbian high school student in Bosnia who assassinated the heir to hte throne of Austria and his wife in Sarajevo in June 1914. He declared that he is a nationalist who felt compelled to do what was necessary to avenge the Serbs for being annexed by Austria six years earlier. He hoped that his action would precipitate a war between Austria and Serbia that would free the Serbian people of Bosnia and bring about a greater nation of the Yugoslav people. Princip’s statement shows that nationalism can cause individuals and groups to commit acts of terrorism because they believe that the end justifies the means. Princip’s action set off World War I, altered the map of Europe, and caused millions of deaths. After the war, Serbia combined with Bosnia to created the independent nation of Yugoslavia.


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