Giuseppe Garibaldi 4 July 1807 – 2 June 1882) was an Italian general, politician and nationalist. He is considered one of the greatest generals of modern times and one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland" along with Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Giuseppe Mazzini.
Garibaldi has been called the "Hero of the Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises in Brazil, Uruguay and Europe. He personally commanded and fought in many military campaigns that led eventually to the Italian unification. Garibaldi was appointed general by the provisional government of Milan in 1848, General of the Roman Republic in 1849 by the Minister of War, and led the Expedition of the Thousand on behalf and with the consent of Victor Emmanuel II. His last military campaign took place during the Franco-Prussian War as commander of the Army of the Vosges.
Garibaldi was very popular in Italy and abroad, aided by exceptional international media coverage at the time. Many of the greatest intellectuals of his time, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and George Sand, showered him with admiration. The United Kingdom and the United States helped him a great deal, offering him financial and military support in difficult circumstances. In the popular telling of his story, he is associated with the red shirts worn by his volunteers, the Garibaldini, in lieu of a uniform.
Garibaldi was born and christened Joseph-Marie Garibaldi on 4 July 1807 in Nice, which had been directly annexed by First French Empire in 1805, to Ligurian family of Giovanni Domenico Garibaldi from Chiavari and Maria Rosa Nicoletta Raimondo from Loano. In 1814, the Congress of Vienna returned Nice to Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia; nevertheless, France re-annexed it in 1860 by the Treaty of Turin, which was ardently opposed by Garibaldi.
Garibaldi's family's involvement in coastal trade drew him to a life at sea. He participated actively in the Nizzardo Italians community and was certified in 1832 as a merchant navy captain.
In April 1833 he travelled to Taganrog, Russia, in the schooner Clorinda with a shipment of oranges. During ten days in port he met Giovanni Battista Cuneo from Oneglia, a politically active immigrant and member of the secret Young Italy movement of Giuseppe Mazzini. Mazzini was an impassioned proponent of Italian unification as a liberal republic through political and social reform. Garibaldi joined the society and took an oath dedicating himself to the struggle to liberate and unify his homeland free from Austrian dominance.
In Geneva during November 1833, Garibaldi met Mazzini, starting a long relationship that later became troublesome. He joined the Carbonari revolutionary association, and in February 1834 participated in a failed Mazzinian insurrection in Piedmont. A Genoese court sentenced him to death in absentia, and he fled across the border to Marseille.
Garibaldi first sailed to Tunisia before eventually finding his way to the Empire of Brazil. Once there he took up the cause of Republic of Rio Grande do Sul in its attempt to separate from Brazil, joining the rebels known as the Ragamuffins in the Ragamuffin War.
During this war he met Ana Ribeiro da Silva, commonly known as Anita. When the Ragamuffins tried to proclaim another republic in the Brazilian province of Santa Catarina in October 1839, she joined him aboard his ship Rio Pardo and fought alongside him at the battles of Imbituba and Laguna.
In 1841, Garibaldi and Anita moved to Montevideo, Uruguay, where Garibaldi worked as a trader and schoolmaster. The couple married in Montevideo the following year. They had four children – Menotti (born 1840), Rosita (born 1843), Teresita (born 1845), and Ricciotti (born 1847). A skilled horsewoman, Anita is said to have taught Giuseppe about the gaucho culture of southern Brazil and Uruguay. Around this time, he adopted his trademark clothing, which consisted of the red shirt, poncho, and sombrero commonly worn by the gauchos.
In 1842 Garibaldi took command of the Uruguayan fleet and raised an "Italian Legion" of soldiers known as Redshirts, who wore red, blouse-type shirts, for the Uruguayan Civil War. He aligned his forces with a faction composed of the Uruguayan Colorados led by Fructuoso Rivera, also aligned with the Argentine Unitarios. This faction received some support from the French and British Empires in their struggle against the forces of former Uruguayan president Manuel Oribe's Blancos also aligned with Argentine Federales under the rule of Buenos Aires caudillo Juan Manuel de Rosas.
The Italian Legion adopted a black flag that represented Italy in mourning, with a volcano at the center that symbolized the dormant power in their homeland. Though there is no contemporary mention of them, popular history asserts that it was in Uruguay that the legion first wore the red shirts, said to have been obtained from a factory in Montevideo that had intended to export them to the slaughterhouses of Argentina. These shirts became the symbol of Garibaldi and his followers.
Between 1842 and 1848, Garibaldi defended Montevideo against forces led by Oribe. In 1845 he managed to occupy Colonia del Sacramento and Martín García Island and led the controversial sack of Gualeguaychú during the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata. Adopting guerrilla tactics, Garibaldi later achieved two victories during 1846 in the Battle of Cerro and the Battle of San Antonio del Santo.
Garibaldi entered Freemasonry during his exile, taking advantage of the asylum the lodges offered to political refugees from European countries governed by despotic regimes. At the age of thirty-seven, during 1844, Garibaldi was initiated in the "L'Asil de la Vertud" Lodge of Montevideo. This was an irregular lodge under a Brazilian Freemasonry not recognized by the main international masonic obediences, such as the United Grand Lodge of England or the Grand Orient de France. While Garibaldi had little use for masonic rituals, he was an active Freemason and regarded Freemasonry as a network uniting progressive men as brothers both within nations and as members of a global community. Garibaldi was eventually elected as the Grand Master of the Grand Orient of Italy.
Garibaldi later regularized his position in 1844, joining the lodge "Les Amis de la Patrie" of Montevideo under the Grand Orient of France.
The fate of his homeland, however, continued to concern Garibaldi. The election of Pope Pius IX in 1846 caused a sensation among Italian patriots, both at home and in exile. Pius's initial reforms seemed to identify him as the liberal pope called for by Vincenzo Gioberti, who went on to lead the unification of Italy. When news of these reforms reached Montevideo, Garibaldi wrote the following letter to the Pope:
If these hands, used to fighting, would be acceptable to His Holiness, we most thankfully dedicate them to the service of him who deserves so well of the Church and of the fatherland. Joyful indeed shall we and our companions in whose name we speak be, if we may be allowed to shed our blood in defence of Pius IX's work of redemption
Mazzini, from exile, also applauded the early reforms of Pius IX. In 1847, Garibaldi offered the apostolic nuncio at Rio de Janeiro, Bedini, the service of his Italian Legion for the liberation of the peninsula. Then news of an outbreak of revolution in Palermo in January 1848 and revolutionary agitation elsewhere in Italy encouraged Garibaldi to lead some sixty members of his legion home.
Garibaldi returned to Italy amidst the turmoil of the revolutions of 1848 in the Italian states and offered his services to Charles Albert of Sardinia. The monarch displayed some liberal inclinations, but treated Garibaldi with coolness and distrust. Rebuffed by the Piedmontese, he and his followers crossed into Lombardy where they offered assistance to the provisional government of Milan, which had rebelled against the Austrian occupation. In the course of the following unsuccessful First Italian War of Independence, he led his legion to two minor victories at Luino and Morazzone.
After the crushing Piedmontese defeat at Novara (23 March 1849), Garibaldi moved to Rome to support the Republic recently proclaimed in the Papal States, but a French force sent by Louis Napoleon (the future Napoleon III) threatened to topple it. At Mazzini's urging, Garibaldi took command of the defence of Rome. In fighting near Velletri, Achille Cantoni saved his life. After Cantoni's death, during the Battle of Mentana, Garibaldi wrote the novel Cantoni il volontario.
On 30 April 1849 the Republican army, under Garibaldi's command, defeated a numerically far superior French army. Subsequently, French reinforcements arrived, and the siege of Rome began on 1 June. Despite the resistance of the Republican army, the French prevailed on 29 June. On 30 June the Roman Assembly met and debated three options: surrender, continue fighting in the streets, or retreat from Rome to continue resistance from the Apennine mountains. Garibaldi made a speech favoring the third option and then said: Dovunque saremo, colà sarà Roma. (Wherever we may be, there will be Rome).
A truce was negotiated on 1 July, and on 2 July Garibaldi withdrew from Rome with 4,000 troops. The French Army entered Rome on 3 July and reestablished the Holy See's temporal power. Garibaldi and his forces, hunted by Austrian, French, Spanish, and Neapolitan troops, fled to the north with the intention to reach Venice, where the Venetians were still resisting the Austrian siege. After an epic march, Garibaldi took momentary refuge in San Marino, with only 250 men still following him. Anita, who was carrying their fifth child, died near Comacchio during the retreat.
Garibaldi eventually managed to reach Porto Venere, near La Spezia, but the Piedmontese government forced him to emigrate again.
He went to Tangier, where he stayed with Francesco Carpanetto, a wealthy Italian merchant. Carpanetto suggested that he and some of his associates finance the purchase of a merchant ship, which Garibaldi would command. Garibaldi agreed, feeling that his political goals were for the moment unreachable, and he could at least earn his own living.
The ship was to be purchased in the United States, so Garibaldi went to New York, arriving on 30 July 1850; however, the funds for purchasing of a ship were lacking. While in New York he stayed with various Italian friends, including some exiled revolutionaries and he attended the masonic lodges of New York in 1850 where he met several supporters of democratic internationalism, whose minds were open to making socialist thoughts their own and giving Freemasonry a strong anti-papal stance.
The inventor Antonio Meucci employed Garibaldi in his candle factory on Staten Island. (The cottage on Staten Island where he stayed is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is preserved as the Garibaldi Memorial). Garibaldi was not satisfied with this, and in April 1851 he left New York with his friend Carpanetto for Central America, where Carpanetto was establishing business operations. They went first to Nicaragua, and then to other parts of the region. Garibaldi accompanied Carpanetto as a companion, not a business partner, and used the name Giuseppe Pane.
Carponetto went on to Lima, Peru, where a shipload of his goods was due, arriving late in 1851 with Garibaldi. En route, Garibaldi called on Andean revolutionary heroine Manuela Sáenz. At Lima, Garibaldi was generally welcomed. A local Italian merchant, Pietro Denegri, gave him command of his ship Carmen for a trading voyage across the Pacific. Garibaldi took the Carmen to the Chincha Islands for a load of guano. Then on 10 January 1852, he sailed from Peru for Canton, China, arriving in April.
After side trips to Xiamen and Manila, Garibaldi brought the Carmen back to Peru via the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific, passing clear around the south coast of Australia. He visited Three Hummock Island in Bass Strait. Garibaldi then took the Carmen on a second voyage: to the United States via Cape Horn with copper from Chile, and also wool. Garibaldi arrived in Boston, and went on to New York. There he received a hostile letter from Denegri, and resigned his command. Another Italian, Captain Figari, had just come to the U.S. to buy a ship, and hired Garibaldi to take his ship to Europe. Figari and Garibaldi bought the Commonwealth in Baltimore, and Garibaldi left New York for the last time in November 1853. He sailed the Commonwealth to London and then to Newcastle on the River Tyne for coal.
The Commonwealth arrived on 21 March 1854. Garibaldi, already a popular figure on Tyneside, was welcomed enthusiastically by local working men, although the Newcastle Courant reported that he refused an invitation to dine with dignitaries in the city. He stayed in Huntingdon Place Tynemouth for a few days , and in South Shields on Tyneside for over a month, departing at the end of April 1854. During his stay, he was presented with an inscribed sword, which his grandson Giuseppe Garibaldi II later carried as a volunteer in British service in the Second Boer War. He then sailed to Genoa, where his five years of exile ended on 10 May 1854.
Garibaldi returned again to Italy in 1854. Using a legacy from the death of his brother, he bought half of the Italian island of Caprera (north of Sardinia), devoting himself to agriculture. In 1859, the Second Italian War of Independence (also known as the Austro-Sardinian War) broke out in the midst of internal plots at the Sardinian government. Garibaldi was appointed major general, and formed a volunteer unit named the Hunters of the Alps (Cacciatori delle Alpi). Thenceforth, Garibaldi abandoned Mazzini's republican ideal of the liberation of Italy, assuming that only the Piedmontese monarchy could effectively achieve it.
Garibaldi was however very displeased as his home city of Nice (Nizza in Italian) was surrendered to the French, in return for crucial military assistance. In April 1860, as deputy for Nice in the Piedmontese parliament at Turin, he vehemently attacked Cavour for ceding Nice and the County of Nice (Nizzardo) to Louis Napoleon, Emperor of France. In the following years Garibaldi (with other passionate Nizzardo Italians) promoted the Italian irredentism of his Nizza, even with riots (in 1872).
On 24 January 1860, Garibaldi married an 18-year-old Lombard woman, Giuseppina Raimondi. Immediately after the wedding ceremony, she informed him that she was pregnant with another man's child and Garibaldi left her the same day.
At the beginning of April 1860, uprisings in Messina and Palermo in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies provided Garibaldi with an opportunity. He gathered about a thousand volunteers – called i Mille (the Thousand), or, as popularly known, the Redshirts – in two ships named Il Piemonte and Il Lombardo, and left from Genoa on 5 May in the evening and landed at Marsala, on the westernmost point of Sicily, on 11 May.
Swelling the ranks of his army with scattered bands of local rebels, Garibaldi led 800 volunteers to victory over an enemy force of 1500 on the hill of Calatafimi on 15 May. He used the counter-intuitive tactic of an uphill bayonet charge. He saw that the enemy on the hill was terraced, and the terraces would shelter his advancing men. Though small by comparison with the coming clashes at Palermo, Milazzo and Volturno, this battle was decisive in terms of establishing Garibaldi's power in the island. An apocryphal but realistic story had him say to his lieutenant Nino Bixio, Qui si fa l'Italia o si muore, that is, Here we either make Italy, or we die. In reality, the Neapolitan forces were ill guided, and most of its higher officers had been bought out. The next day, he declared himself dictator of Sicily in the name of Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. He advanced to Palermo, the capital of the island, and launched a siege on 27 May. He had the support of many inhabitants, who rose up against the garrison, but before they could take the city, reinforcements arrived and bombarded the city nearly to ruins. At this time, a British admiral intervened and facilitated an armistice, by which the Neapolitan royal troops and warships surrendered the city and departed. Historians Clough et al. argue that Garibaldi’s Thousand were students, independent artisans, and professionals; they were not peasants. The support given by Sicilian peasants was not a matter of patriotism, but of hatred of exploiting landlords and oppressive Neapolitan officials. Garibaldi himself had no interest in social revolution, and instead sided with the Sicilian landlords against the rioting peasants.
Garibaldi had won a signal victory. He gained worldwide renown and the adulation of Italians. Faith in his prowess was so strong that doubt, confusion, and dismay seized even the Neapolitan court. Six weeks later, he marched against Messina in the east of the island, winning a ferocious and difficult battle at Milazzo. By the end of July, only the citadel resisted.
Having conquered Sicily, he crossed the Strait of Messina and marched north. Garibaldi's progress was met with more celebration than resistance, and on 7 September he entered the capital city of Naples, by train. Despite taking Naples, however, he had not to this point defeated the Neapolitan army. Garibaldi's volunteer army of 24,000 was not able to defeat conclusively the reorganized Neapolitan army (about 25,000 men) on 30 September at the Battle of Volturno. This was the largest battle he ever fought, but its outcome was effectively decided by the arrival of the Piedmontese Army. Following this, Garibaldi's plans to march on to Rome were jeopardized by the Piedmontese, technically his ally but unwilling to risk war with France, whose army protected the Pope. (The Piedmontese themselves had conquered most of the Pope's territories in their march south to meet Garibaldi, but they had deliberately avoided Rome, his capital.) Garibaldi chose to hand over all his territorial gains in the south to the Piedmontese and withdrew to Caprera and temporary retirement. Some modern historians consider the handover of his gains to the Piedmontese as a political defeat, but he seemed willing to see Italian unity brought about under the Piedmontese crown. The meeting at Teano between Garibaldi and Victor Emmanuel II is the most important event in modern Italian history, but is so shrouded in controversy that even the exact site where it took place is in doubt.
Garibaldi deeply disliked the Sardinian Prime Minister, Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour. To an extent, he simply mistrusted Cavour's pragmatism and realpolitik, but he also bore a personal grudge for Cavour's trading away his home city of Nice to the French the previous year. On the other hand, he felt attracted toward the Piedmontese monarch, who in his opinion had been chosen by Providence for the liberation of Italy. In his famous meeting with Victor Emmanuel II at Teano on 26 October 1860, Garibaldi greeted him as King of Italy and shook his hand. Garibaldi rode into Naples at the king's side on 7 November, then retired to the rocky island of Caprera, refusing to accept any reward for his services.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War (in 1861), Garibaldi volunteered his services to President Abraham Lincoln. Garibaldi was offered a major general’s commission in the U. S. Army through the letter from Secretary of State William H. Seward to H. S. Sanford, the U. S. Minister at Brussels, July 17, 1861. On September 18, 1861, Sanford sent the following reply to Seward:
He [Garibaldi] said that the only way in which he could render service, as he ardently desired to do, to the cause of the United States, was as Commander-in-chief of its forces, that he would only go as such, and with the additional contingent power--to be governed by events--of declaring the abolition of slavery; that he would be of little use without the first, and without the second it would appear like a civil war in which the world at large could have little interest or sympathy.
These conditions could not be met. On August 6, 1863, after the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued, Garibaldi wrote to Lincoln, "Posterity will call you the great emancipator, a more enviable title than any crown could be, and greater than any merely mundane treasure".
On 5 October 1861 Garibaldi set up the International Legion bringing together different national divisions of French, Poles, Swiss, German and other nationalities, with a view not just of finishing the liberation of Italy, but also of their homelands. With the motto "Free from the Alps to the Adriatic," the unification movement set its gaze on Rome and Venice. Mazzini was discontented with the perpetuation of monarchial government, and continued to agitate for a republic. Garibaldi, frustrated at inaction by the king, and bristling over perceived snubs, organized a new venture. This time, he intended to take on the Papal States.
Garibaldi himself was intensely anti-Catholic and anti-papal. His efforts to overthrow the pope by military action mobilized anti-Catholic support. For example, there were major anti-Catholic riots in his name across Britain in 1862, with the Irish Catholics fighting in defense of their Church. Garibaldi's hostility to the Pope's temporal domain was viewed with great distrust by Catholics around the world, and the French emperor Napoleon III had guaranteed the independence of Rome from Italy by stationing a French garrison in Rome. Victor Emmanuel was wary of the international repercussions of attacking the Papal States and discouraged his subjects from participating in revolutionary ventures with such intentions. Nonetheless, Garibaldi believed he had the secret support of his government.
In June 1862, he sailed from Genoa and landed at Palermo, seeking to gather volunteers for the impending campaign under the slogan Roma o Morte (Rome or Death). An enthusiastic party quickly joined him, and he turned for Messina, hoping to cross to the mainland there. When he arrived, he had a force of some two thousand, but the garrison proved loyal to the king's instructions and barred his passage. They turned south and set sail from Catania, where Garibaldi declared that he would enter Rome as a victor or perish beneath its walls. He landed at Melito on 14 August, and marched at once into the Calabrian mountains.
Far from supporting this endeavor, the Italian government was quite disapproving. General Enrico Cialdini dispatched a division of the regular army, under Colonel Emilio Pallavicini, against the volunteer bands. On 28 August the two forces met in the rugged Aspromonte. One of the regulars fired a chance shot, and several volleys followed, killing a few of the volunteers. The fighting ended quickly, as Garibaldi forbade his men to return fire on fellow subjects of the Kingdom of Italy. Many of the volunteers were taken prisoner, including Garibaldi, who had been wounded by a shot in the foot. (The episode was the origin of a famous Italian nursery rhyme: Garibaldi fu ferito "Garibaldi was wounded").
A government steamer took him to a prison at Varignano near La Spezia, where he was held in a sort of honorable imprisonment and underwent a tedious and painful operation for the healing of his wound. His venture had failed, but he was consoled by Europe's sympathy and continued interest. One historian of the American Civil War has written that the distraction created by Garibaldi's wounding, followed by his unequivocal endorsement of the Union cause, was as important as Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in preserving British and French neutrality in the American conflict, thus significantly aiding the Northern cause. After being restored to health, Garibaldi was released and allowed to return to Caprera.
En route to London in 1864 he stopped briefly in Malta, where he was visited in his hotel by many admirers. Feeble protests by opponents of his anticlericalism were easily suppressed by the British colonial authorities. In London his presence was received with enthusiasm by the population. He met the British prime minister Viscount Palmerston, as well as revolutionaries then living in exile in the city. At that time, his ambitious international project included the liberation of a range of occupied nations, such as Croatia, Greece, Hungary. He also visited Bedford and was given a tour of the Britannia Iron Works, where he planted a tree (which was cut down in 1944 due to decay).
Garibaldi took up arms again in 1866, this time with the full support of the Italian government. The Austro-Prussian War had broken out, and Italy had allied with Prussia against the Austrian Empire in the hope of taking Venetia from Austrian rule (Third Italian War of Independence). Garibaldi gathered again his Hunters of the Alps, now some 40,000 strong, and led them into the Trentino. He defeated the Austrians at Bezzecca (thus securing the only Italian victory in that war) and made for Trento.
The Italian regular forces were defeated at Lissa on the sea, and made little progress on land after the disaster of Custoza. An armistice was signed, by which Austria ceded Venetia to Italy, but this result was largely due to Prussia's successes on the northern front. Garibaldi's advance through Trentino was for nought and he was ordered to stop his advance to Trento. Garibaldi answered with a short telegram from the main square of Bezzecca with the famous motto: Obbedisco! ("I obey!") .
After the war, Garibaldi led a political party that agitated for the capture of Rome, the peninsula's ancient capital. In 1867, he again marched on the city, but the Papal army, supported by a French auxiliary force, proved a match for his badly armed volunteers. He was shot and wounded in the leg in the Battle of Mentana, and had to withdraw out of the Papal territory. The Italian government again imprisoned and held him for some time, after which he returned to Caprera.
In the same year, Garibaldi sought international support for altogether eliminating the papacy. At an 1867 congress in Geneva he proposed: "The papacy, being the most harmful of all secret societies, ought to be abolished."
When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in July 1870, Italian public opinion heavily favored the Prussians, and many Italians attempted to sign up as volunteers at the Prussian embassy in Florence. After the French garrison was recalled from Rome, the Italian Army captured the Papal States without Garibaldi's assistance. Following the wartime collapse of the Second French Empire at the Battle of Sedan, Garibaldi, undaunted by the recent hostility shown to him by the men of Napoleon III, switched his support to the newly declared French Third Republic. On 7 September 1870, within three days of the revolution of 4 September in Paris, he wrote to the Movimento of Genoa, "Yesterday I said to you: war to the death to Bonaparte. Today I say to you: rescue the French Republic by every means." Subsequently, Garibaldi went to France and assumed command of the Army of the Vosges, an army of volunteers.
Despite being elected again to the Italian parliament, Garibaldi spent much of his late years in Caprera. He however supported an ambitious project of land reclamation in the marshy areas of southern Lazio.
In 1879 he founded the League of Democracy, which advocated universal suffrage, abolition of ecclesiastical property, emancipation of women, and maintenance of a standing army. Ill and confined to bed by arthritis, he made trips to Calabria and Sicily. In 1880, he married Francesca Armosino, with whom he previously had three children.
On his deathbed, Garibaldi asked for his bed to be moved to where he could gaze at the emerald and sapphire sea. Upon his death on 2 June 1882 at the age of almost 75, his wishes for a simple funeral and cremation were not respected. He was buried in his farm on the island of Caprera alongside his last wife and some of his children.
In 2012, it was announced that Garibaldi's remains would be exhumed to allow descendants to confirm through DNA analysis that the remains in the tomb are indeed those of Garibaldi. It was anticipated that there would be a debate about whether to preserve the remains or to grant his final wish for a simple cremation. The plans for exhumation were sidelined by 2013 as "there was a change of administration and the new authorities at the Ministry of Culture" were "less than enthusiastic" to proceed with the plan.