Jingoism is nationalism in the form of aggressive foreign policy, such as a country's advocacy for the use of threats or actual force, as opposed to peaceful relations, in efforts to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, jingoism is excessive bias in judging one's own country as superior to others—an extreme type of nationalism.
The chorus of a song by G. H. MacDermott (singer) and G. W. Hunt (songwriter) commonly sung in British pubs and music halls around the time of the Russo-Turkish War (1877–78) gave birth to the term. The lyrics had the chorus:
The capture of Constantinople/Istanbul was a long-standing Russian strategic aim, which would have given the Russian Navy an unfettered access to the Mediterranean; by the same token, the British were determined to deny that to the Russians in order to protect their shipping lines to rich British India. At the time when the above song was composed and sung, the Russians got near to achieving that aim through the Treaty of San Stefano. Eventually, the British were able to push the Russians back by diplomatic pressure and the threat of war.
The phrase "by Jingo" was a long-established minced oath used to avoid saying "by Jesus". Referring to the song, the specific term "jingoism" was coined as a political label by the prominent British radical George Holyoake in a letter to the Daily News on 13 March 1878.
Probably the first uses of the term in the U.S. press occurred in connection with the proposed annexation of Hawaii in 1893, after a coup led by foreign residents, mostly Americans, and assisted by the U.S. minister in Hawaii, overthrew the Hawaiian constitutional monarchy and declared a republic. Republican president Benjamin Harrison and Republicans in the U.S. Senate were frequently accused of jingoism in the Democratic press for supporting annexation.
In the 1880s, Henry Hyndman, leader of Britain's Social Democratic Federation, turned against internationalism, and promoted a version of Socialism mixed with British nationalism, anti-foreigner racism and outright antisemitism" - even to the point of attacking fellow Socialist Eleanor Marx in antisemitic terms, noting that she had "inherited in her nose and mouth the Jewish type from Karl Marx himself". When taking part in the breakaway group which founded the Socialist League, Eleanor Marx wrote polemics in which she characterized Hyndman and his followers as "The Jingo Party".
British artillery major-general Thomas Bland Strange, one of the founders of the Canadian army and one of the divisional commanders during the 1885 North-West Rebellion, was an eccentric and aggressive soldier who gained the nickname "Jingo Strange" and titled his 1893 autobiography Gunner Jingo's Jubilee.
Theodore Roosevelt was frequently accused of jingoism. In an article on 23 October 1895 in New York Times, Roosevelt stated, "There is much talk about 'jingoism'. If by 'jingoism' they mean a policy in pursuance of which Americans will with resolution and common sense insist upon our rights being respected by foreign powers, then we are 'jingoes'."
The policy of appeasement toward Hitler led to satirical references to the loss of jingoistic attitudes in Britain. A cartoon by E.H. Shepard titled "The Old-Fashioned Customer" appeared in the 28 March 1938 issue of Punch. Set in a record shop, John Bull asks the record seller (Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain): "I wonder if you've got a song I remember about not wanting to fight, but if we do … something, something, something … we've got the money too?". On the wall is a portrait of the Victorian Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.