“The main struggle which awaits Americanism is not with reaction, but with radicalism. Our age is one of restless and unintelligent iconoclasm, and abounds with shrewd sophists who use the name “Americanism” to cover attacks on that institution itself.
Such familiar terms and phrases as “democracy,” “liberty,” or “freedom of speech” are being distorted to cover the wildest forms of anarchy, whilst our old representative institutions are being attacked as “un-American” by foreign immigrants who are incapable both of understanding them or of devising anything better.
This country would benefit from a wider practice of sound Americanism, with its accompanying recognition of an Anglo-Saxon source. Americanism implies freedom, progress, and independence; but it does not imply a rejection of the past, nor a renunciation of traditions and experience.” view the term in its real, practical, and unsentimental meaning.
– from The United Amateur, July 1919
Old England and the Hyphen
Of the various intentional fallacies exhaled like miasmic vapours from the rotting cosmopolitanism of vitiated American politics, and doubly rife during these days of European conflict, none is more disgusting than that contemptible subterfuge of certain foreign elements whereby the legitimate zeal of the genuine native stock for England’s cause is denounced and compared to the unpatriotic disaffection of those working in behalf of England’s enemies. The Prussian propagandists and Irish irresponsibles, failing in their clumsy efforts to use the United States as a tool of vengeance upon the Mistress of the Seas, have seized with ingenious and unexpected eagerness on a current slogan coined to counteract their own traitorous machinations, and have begun to fling the trite demand “America first” in the face of every American who is unable to share their puerile hatred of the British Empire.
In demanding that American citizens impartially withhold love and allegiance from any government save their own, thereby binding themselves to a policy of rigid coldness in considering the fortunes of their Mother Country, the Prusso-Hibernian herd have the sole apparent advantage of outward technical justification. If the United States were truly the radical, aloof, mongrelised nation into which they idealise it, their plea might possibly be more appropriate. But in comparing the lingering loyalty of a German-American for Germany, or of an Irish-American for Ireland, with that of a native American for England, these politicians make their fundamental psychological error.
England, despite the contentions of trifling theorists, is not and never will be a really foreign country; nor is a true love of America possible without a corresponding love for the British race and ideals that created America. The difficulties which caused the severance of the American Colonies from the rest of the Empire were essentially internal ones, and have no moral bearing on this country’s attitude toward the parent land in its relations with alien civilisations. Just as Robert Edward Lee chose to follow the government of Virginia rather than the Federal Union in 1861, so did the Anglo-American Revolutionary leaders choose local to central allegiance in 1775. Their rebellion was in itself a characteristically English act, and could in no manner annul the purely English origin and nature of the new republic.
American history before the conflict of 1775-1783 is English history, and we are lawful heirs of the unnumbered glories of the Saxon line. Shakespeare and Milton, Dryden and Pope, Young and Thomson, Johnson and Goldsmith, are our own poets; William the Conqueror, Edward the Black Prince, Elizabeth, and William of Nassau are our own royalty; Crecy, Poictiers, and Agincourt are our own victories; Lord Bacon, Sir Isaac Newton, Hobbes, Locke, Sir Robert Boyle, and Sir William Herschel are our own philosophers and scientists; what true American lives, who would wish, by rejecting an Englishman’s heritage, to despoil his country of such racial laurels?
Let those men be silent, who would, in envy, deny to the citizens of the United States the right to cherish and revere the ancestral honours that are theirs, and to remain faithful to the Anglo-Saxon ideals of their English forefathers! Since the establishment of a republic by the Englishmen of the American Colonies, millions of non- British persons have been admitted to share the liberty which English hands created. In many cases, these immigrants have proved valuable accessions, and when accepting fully the ideals of the Anglo-American culture, those of them who are of North European blood have become completely amalgamated with the American people. Germans, in particular, being of identical racial stock, are able to fuse quickly and wholly into the Colonial population. But as they become Americans, so must they also, in a sense, become Englishmen.
When the Elector of Hanover, a thorough German, acceded to the English throne, it was his duty to become an English monarch; and in a similar way it is an obligation of all other non-English individuals, princes or peasants, to adopt Anglo-Saxon ideals when they come to reap the advantages of an Anglo-Saxon nation. That millions of virile Germans have done so, is a gratifying fact to consider. But since alien immigration has far exceeded normal proportions, it is but natural that we have among us an alarmingly vast body of foreigners from various countries who are totally unable to appreciate Anglo-American traditions. If not still attached to their respective nations, they are at least prone to regard the United States as a sort of spontaneously evolved territory without previous history or ancestry.
Forgetting the Saxon inheritance that gave us language, laws, and liberty, they speak of America as a composite nation whose civilisation is a compound of all existing cultures; a melting pot of mongrelism wherein it is a crime for a man to know his own grandfather’s name. They prate of Americanism as something of autochthonous growth, neglecting or unwilling to assign England the credit for its origin; and presuming to blame any citizen who is more just than they in his appreciation of the Mother Land. More guileful immigrants use their “Americanism” as a blind for treason. Leaving their own countries in dissatisfaction, they assume the cloak of American citizenship; organize and finance conspiracies with American money; and finally, with an audacity almost ironical, call upon the United States for help when overtaken by justice!
Half the detestable violence of the Irish “Fenians” and “Sinn Fein” ruffians was hatched in America by those who dare drivel about such a thing as “neutrality”! Others continue to serve their own countries under the all-enveloping American mantle. Prussian-American patriots deep in the sanctimonious circles of “Americanism” and pacifism are at the same time secretly destroying American property for the benefit of the Prussian cause. And these are the sort of worthies who compare their treacherous anti-American acts with the traditional affection of a real American of the land which gave birth to the American nation!
The very small surviving flock of native Fourth-of-July England-haters must not be charged with that moral delinquency which attaches to the foreign agitators. These belated Revolutionists mean well, and are to be tolerated with kindness. They head that amusing element which applauds every Englishman who becomes naturalised in the United States, but which denounces with unmerciful inconsistency every American who, like the late Henry James, renews ancestral ties with Great Britain.
Summing up, we may well declare it folly to taunt the American lover of Old England with the cry of “Hyphenate!” His passion is not, like that of the Prussian or Irish “hyphenate”, based exclusively on personal ancestry; in his affection for the parent Kingdom he is but reiterating his devotion to the ideals of the daughter Republic; he is giving to his country a double loyalty!”
– from The Conservative, Vol. 2, No. 3, 1916