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The Nationalist Imperative

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind."
—Albert Einstein

When James Bowie took his considerable reputation as a brawler and duelist, along with the famous knife his brother Resin had fashioned for him, to Mexico, married the daughter of the vice-governor of the province of Texas, and became a respected citizen of that republic, he would have considered it pure hogwash had someone suggested that he had ceased to be an American. Bowie, like most Americans of the first half of the 19th century, did not think of his Americanness as a mutable quality, it being something as unquestioned, and as unreflected upon, as the stages of the moon or the points of the compass. It had nothing to do with either polities per se, or legalistic notions of civic membership. He was an American by language, culture, and worldview, as well as by all those qualities, including the way a people walk and talk, that set them apart from all others. He was an Anglo-Celtic adventurer, tall with fair skin, red hair, and blue-gray eyes, who could mix easily with either the best of Southern gentility or the toughest of frontier roughnecks, an example of a particular type that the Mexicans would learn to fear and hate.

This is not to say that Bowie was not, at least for a time, a loyal citizen of his adopted country. He was lord and master of thousands of acres of Texas...

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