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Italian American Museum
Celebrates the 150th Anniversary Of the Unification of Italy
Giuseppe Garibaldi
July 4, 1807 – June 2, 1882


An Italian nationalist, revolutionary hero and leader in the struggle for Italian Unification and Independence, was born in 1807 in Nice, France. He joined Mazzini's movement in 1833. In 1834, Garibaldi was ordered to seize a warship but the plot was discovered by police and he was condemned to death. He escaped to South America, where he lived for 12 years. There he displayed unusual qualities of military leadership while participating in the revolt of the state of Rio Grande do Sul against Brazil, as well as later in a civil war in Uruguay.

In 1848, Garibaldi traveled to the United States settled in Staten Island, New York, and later became a US citizen. During the same year he returned to Italy and participated (again) in the movement for Italian freedom and unification, which became widely known as the Risorgimento (Italian for "revival"). He organized a corps of volunteers, which served under the Piedmontese ruler Charles Albert, King of Sardinia.  He unsuccessfully waged war against the Austrians in Lombardy and led his volunteers to Rome to support the Roman Republic established by Mazzini and others in 1849.  Garibaldi defended Rome, initially successfully, against French forces, but in the end was forced to "settle" with the French. He was allowed to depart from Rome with about 5000 of his followers.  However, the line of retreat reached directly through Austrians controlled territory.  Garibaldi's force was killed, captured, or dispersed during his attempt to retreat, and Garibaldi had to flee Italy to save his life.

He returned to Italy in 1854 where he settled down on the island of Caprera northeast of Sardinia.  By this time, Garibaldi had separated politically from Mazzini, and had formed an alliance with Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Sardinia, and his premier, Conte Camillo Benso di Cavour.  Given Garibaldi's popularity and large following, thousands of Italians gave their allegiance to the Sardinian monarch.

Garibaldi's dream of a united Italy motivated his successful expedition against the Austrian forces in the Alps in 1859.  In 1860 he conquered Sicily and set up a provisional insular government.  Garibaldi then conquered Naples, which he then delivered to Victor Emmanuel in 1861 and returned to his home on Caprera. With the annexation of Umbria and Marches from the papal government, a united Italy was finally established in 1861 with Victor Emmanuel as its king. The Italian kingdom was missing Rome, which was still a papal possession, and Venice, which was controlled by the Austrians.
Venice was added to Italy in 1866 after Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks' War, in which Italy sided with Prussia; Venice was its reward. Then, in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, Napoleon III withdrew his troops from Rome. With the city of Rome and the remaining Papal States left unprotected, Italian troops moved into Rome without opposition. Rome voted for union with Italy in October 1870 and, in July 1871, Rome became the capital of a united Italy.

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