American nationalism is the nationalism that asserts that Americans are a nation and that promotes the cultural unity of Americans. American scholars such as Hans Kohn have claimed that the US government institutionalized a civic nationalism based on legal and rational concepts of citizenship, and based on a common language and cultural traditions, rather than ethnic nationalism. The founders of the United States founded the country upon classical liberal individualist principles rather than ethnic nationalist principles. American nationalism since World War I and particularly since the 1960s has largely been based upon the civic nationalist culture of the country's founders. However prior to 1914, American nationalism in practice had strong ethnic nationalist elements – including nativism and efforts to exclude immigrants, African Americans, and others from receiving political power as citizens. American nativist ethnic nationalism found a basis in early leaders of the United States – such as George Washington who believed that immigration could have a deleterious affect on the country's national character, as well as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who opposed immigration from absolute monarchies because they believed that such immigrants would bring the antidemocratic beliefs of their countries to the United States. Discriminatory immigration policies by the US government continued until 1965 with the Amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act that abolished the existing ethnic quota system and replaced it with an ethnic-blind system. The civil rights movement of the 1950s to 1960s resulted in American civic nationalism prevailing over ethnic nationalism, as legal barriers preventing African Americans from attaining the full citizenship were removed, officially enfranchising African Americans as equal citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
The United States traces its origins to colonies founded by the Kingdom of England in the early 17th century. Each colony was independently governed and was under the authority of the Crown; a colonist had no duty to colonies other than their own. By 1732, the Kingdom of Great Britain had 13 colonies established in British America. When the colonies faced a threat during the French and Indian War, the Albany Plan proposed a union between the colonies. Although unsuccessful, it served as a reference for future discussions of independence.
Soon after, the colonies faced several common grievances over acts passed by the British Parliament, including taxation without representation. As the dispute escalated, colonists started to view the British rule as oppressive and hostile, and sought cooperation with other colonies in response. This cooperation led to the Continental Congress, the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolutionary War, and ultimately independence. Ties between the states strengthened with the ratification of the United States Constitution.
The American Civil War marked the greatest transition in American national identity. The ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments settled the basic question of national identity: Who was a citizen of the United States? Under the amendments, anyone born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction was a citizen, regardless of ethnicity or social status. However, Native Americans were not to gain citizenship under these amendments. In 1919 all Natives who had served in the military were granted full citizenship, but the rest of the Native Americans were not included as citizens until 1924, when the Indian Citizenship Act was passed by Congress.
Nationalism in the contemporary United States
Nationalism remains a topic in the modern United States. Rutgers University professor Paul McCartney, for instance, argues that as a nation defined by a creed and sense of mission, Americans tend to equate their interests with those of humanity, which in turn informs their global posture.
The September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States led to a wave of nationalist expression. This was accompanied by a rise in military enlistment that included not only lower-income Americans, but also middle- and upper-class citizens.
- American exceptionalism
- American patriotism
- Assimilation (sociology)
- Melting pot
- Motyl 2001, pp. 16.
- Motyl 2001, pp. 558, 559.
- Motyl 2001, pp. 559.
- McCartney, Paul (August 28 2002). "The Bush Doctrine and American Nationalism". Annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. American Political Science Association. McCartney-2002. Retrieved 2011-02-06.
- The Demographics of Military Enlistment After 9/11
- "French anti-Americanism: Spot the difference". The Economist. December 20, 2005.
- Motyl, Alexander J. (2001). Encyclopedia of Nationalism, Volume II. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-227230-7.