Giuseppe Garibaldi


A leader of the Italian independence movement

¬†Garibaldi (7/4/1807-6/2/1882) and Mazzini (whose statue stands in Central Park) are celebrated as the men responsible in the 1850s-1870s for unifying Italy from eight separate states ruled by monarchs and the pope into the state that we know today. Although it was Mazzini who introduced Garibaldi to revolutionary ideas in the 1830s, the two later disagreed on aims and methods. Mazzini’s philosophy smacks of socialism. Garibaldi professed to favor republican government, although he became convinced that given the low level of education and the political apathy of the Italian people, it was justifiable for a an all-powerful leader to force them to become free.

Mazzini condemned Garibaldi as a potential dictator, a socialist, an ignoramus, a man with a face like a lion and as stupid. Garibaldi in turn described Mazzini as “a man of theory, not of practice, who is always speaking of the people though he does not know who the people are.” (Both descriptions appear in Denis Mack Smith,¬†Garibaldi: A Great Life in Brief,¬†1956, pp. 187-8.) Garibaldi died on June 2, 1882.

Garibaldi wasn't primarily a writer, but you can get a sense of his charisma from reading his 1860 Call to Arms, which ends with the line, "We shall meet again before long to march to new triumphs."

Garibaldi and Meucci in New York

During one of his periods of exile from Italy, Garibaldi spent nine months in New York, helping manufacture a smokeless candle invented by fellow Italian Antonio Meucci, who also did early work on the telephone. At 420 Tompkins Ave. in Staten Island (near the Verrazzano Bridge) you can visit the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum.