Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) was an Italian military general, politician, and nationalist who played a key role in the unification of Italy in the 19th century. Born in Nice, France, he spent much of his early life as a sailor before becoming involved in political activism and military campaigns for Italian unification.
Garibaldi became famous for his leadership of the Redshirts, a group of volunteer soldiers who fought for Italian unification in the mid-1800s. He led numerous campaigns and battles throughout Italy, including the successful conquest of Sicily and Naples, which were incorporated into the new Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
In addition to his efforts in Italy, Garibaldi was also interested in the American Civil War, which took place from 1861 to 1865. He supported the Union cause and advocated for the abolition of slavery, which he saw as a fundamental issue of human rights.
Garibaldi offered his military expertise to the Union army, but his offer was declined by President Abraham Lincoln. (The rumor is that Garibaldi wanted to be instated as a general, but Lincoln offered him a lower rank.)
Despite this, Garibaldi continued to follow the progress of the Civil War and expressed his support for the Union cause. He even raised funds in Italy to support the Union army and sent a letter of encouragement to Lincoln in 1863, expressing his admiration for the president’s leadership during such a challenging time.
Garibaldi’s interest in the American Civil War was reflective of his broader commitment to the ideals of liberty, democracy, and national self-determination. His legacy as a military leader and political figure remains an important part of Italian history, and his influence can still be felt in the country today.