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Nationalism Triumphs in Europe and the Growth of Western Democracies (1800-1914 ). Nationalism: A strong feeling of pride in and devotion to one’s country.
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The last half of the 1800s can be called the Age of Nationalism. By harnessing national feeling, European leaders fought ruthlessly to create strong, unified nations. Germany and Italy unified under nationalism, the Austrians and Ottomans fought to keep their empires in tact, and Russians started to challenge the power of the Czar (Tsar). Under Otto von Bismarck, Germany emerged as Europe’s most powerful empire – but at a considerable cost. Where once the world saw Germany as a center for the Northern Renaissance, it was now viewed as conquerors and destroyers. Neither loved nor respected, only feared.
All the while Western Democracies formed and grew in Britain, France, and the United States. A series of political reforms during the 1800s and early 1900s transformed Great Britain from a monarchy and aristocracy into a democracy, Manifest Destiny saw the United States expand from coast to coast (and beyond), and under the Napoleonic Code France emerged as the largest democratic country in Europe.
In the early 1800s , German-speaking people, Austrians, and Prussians lived in a number of small and medium-sized states.
Under Napoleon’s control the people of the area united to throw the French out.
With Napoleon gone the Congress of Vienna created the German Confederation headed by Austria.
In 1848 people again demanded German political unity under the leadership of Frederick William IV of Prussia – he rejected the notion of a throne offered by “the people”.
Under a Prussian, Otto von Bismarck, the German states were united through a series of “wars of unification” against Denmark, Austria, and France. In the Franco-Prussian War Napoleon III surrendered after a mere few weeks. Due to this Bismarck is considered the architect of German unity.
In January 1871, William I of Prussia took the title of kaiser (emperor) of Germany – ushering in the Second Reich (empire) – heir to the First Reich, the Holy Roman Empire.
In the aftermath of unification Germany emerged as the industrial giant of the European continent; it’s shipping was second only to Britain.
Germany had many advantages, its iron and coal deposits, along with a population surge (from 41 million in 1871 to 67 million in 1914) served to propel Germany forward.
The Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, sought to keep France isolated and weak, while building strong links with Austria and Russia, as well as erase local loyalties within by attacking the Catholic Church and the Socialists. His moves backfired, forcing him to make peace with the church and woo the workers of Germany. Because of this Germany became the model of social reform for other European countries.
Although workers benefited from Bismarck’s plans, they did not abandon socialism; the socialist party continued to grow and held the most seats in the Reichstag (Germany’s parliament) by 1912.
In 1888, William II took aver from his father, forced the resignation of Bismarck, and expanded the German military and navy, while building an overseas empire.
Although the people of the Italian peninsula spoke the same language, they had not experienced political unity since the Roman times. By the early 1800s Italian patriots were determined to build a new, united Italy.
Under the Congress of Vienna, Austria controlled northern Italy, the Hapsburg monarchs ruled various other Italian states, and the French Bourbons were put in charge of Naples and Cicily.
Between 1820 and 1848 nationalist revolts exploded across the region – each time Austria sent troops to crush the rebels.
Under the shrewd leadership of Count Camillo Cavour - appointed prime minister in 1852, and Giuseppe Garibaldi – a long time nationalist, Italy was united in 1861 with Victor Emmanuel II its king. Later wars would add Rome and Venitia.
Though united, strong regional divisions between the north and south, as well as disputes with the Catholic Church served to impede growth. Growth did come with industrialization in northern Italy by 1900, which saw a population explosion and emigration to the Americas.
In Eastern and Central Europe, the Austrians and Ottoman Turks ruled lands that included diverse ethnic groups. Nationalist feelings among these subject peoples contributed to tensions building across Europe.
By 1815, Russia was not only the largest, most populace nation in Europe but also a great power. However, despite efforts by Peter and Catharine to westernize Russia, it remained economically undeveloped.
Under Alexander II the serfs were freed (emancipated) from the land, freeing them to move to the growing cities for work in Russian industries.
In the early and mid-1800s liberals and radicals created turmoil that culminated in the assassination of Alexander II in March of 1881. His son, Alexander III responded with a harsh backlash, suppressing the cultures of non-Russian peoples through persecutions and pogroms.
Under Alexander III’s son, Nicholas II, Russia entered the industrial age in the 1890s with railroads and industry. Poor conditions saw Marxist ideas gain popularity.
Following the defeat of Russia to Japan in the Russo-Japanese wars of 1904-5, as well as “Bloody Sunday” that saw hundreds dead at the Czar’s Winter Palace on January 22, 1905, discontent exploded all over Russia.
By 1914 Russia was still an autocracy, but one simmering with unrest…
The Reform Act of 1832 gave representation to newer population centers and granted suffrage to more men, giving the middle class more power.
The Victorian Age
Queen Victoria became symbolic of Britain and of Victorian ideals of morality. She believed that the lower classes should be given more of a voice.
A New Era in British Politics
In the latter part of the 19th century, the Liberal and Conservative parties each made reforms that increased the size of the electorate. Britain became a parliamentary democracy, and the power of the House of Lords was diminished.
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A Series of Reforms
During the early and mid 1800s, Parliament instituted reforms in the areas of protective tariffs (repealing the Corn Laws), slavery (banning it in all British colonies), and criminal punishments (reducing the number of capital offenses).
Victories for the Working Class
In the 1800s and early 1900s, Parliament passed laws aimed at improving social conditions. Such laws limited the workday of women and children, regulated workplace safety, improved workers’ housing, and established old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
A Struggle to Win Votes for Women
Parliament finally granted suffrage to women over 30 in 1918. When peaceful protests saw no results, radical suffragists had made their cause more apparent by destroying property.
Instability in Ireland
Irish nationalists campaigned for freedom from Britain and made gains in the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act and the home rule bill, which passed in 1914. The southern counties of Ireland gained independence in 1921.
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France Under Napoleon III
Napoleon III eventually extended some democratic rights to French citizens, but many of them lived in poverty, which was exacerbated by the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris.
Challenges of the Third Republic
Civil war erupted in 1871 as a result of the conditions that ended the Franco-Prussian War. The Third Republic emerged with a two-house legislature that gave power to a premier. A multitude of parties led to a coalition government that was unstable.
Anti-Semitism and the Dreyfus Affair
The rise of anti-Semitism in Europe was evidenced in the Dreyfus affair in which a Jewish army officer was accused of spying for Germany. The Dreyfus case and Russian pogroms led to the establishment of the modern Zionist movement.
Reforms in France
The Dreyfus Affair led to a campaign to reduce the power of the Roman Catholic Church, which had supported the condemnation of Dreyfus, and led also to a lack of support for women’s suffrage, for fear that women would vote for Church causes.
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In the 1800s, the United States extended the nation’s boundaries to include the land west of the Mississippi River gained in the Louisiana Purchase, as well as Florida, Oregon, the Republic of Texas, California and the Southwest, Alaska, and the Hawaiian Islands.
The abolition movement and the women’s rights movement both intensified in the mid 19th century. The women’s rights movement grew stronger out of frustration with the inability of women to have a voice against slavery.
The Civil War and Its Aftermath
Economic differences and the issue of slavery separated the North and the South and led to the Civil War. Even after African Americans were freed, segregation still restricted their opportunities in the South.
Economic Growth and Social Reform
After the Civil War, the U.S. economy grew and giant monopolies came to dominate industry. Workers—largely left out of the new prosperity—organized labor unions, and farmers also came together to defend their interests.
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