1844, "devotion to one's country, national spirit or aspirations, desire for national unity, independence, or prosperity;" see nationalist + -ism; in some usages from French nationalisme. Earlier it was used in a theological sense of "the doctrine of divine election of nations" (1836). Later it was used in a sense of "doctrine advocating nationalization of a country's industry" (1892). An earlier word for "devotion or strong attachment to one's own country" was nationality (1772).
To place the redemptive work of the Christian Faith in social affairs in its proper setting, it is necessary to have clearly in mind at the outset that the consciousness of "the nation" as the social unit is a very recent and contingent experience. It belongs to a limited historical period and is bound up with certain specific happenings, theories of society and attitudes to life as a whole. [Vigo A. Demant, "God, Man and Society"]