As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
This posting is intended to share a little of history I have found in some books and the Internet about detailed events that may have influenced/ encourage your family to emigrate from Italy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ from Sicily to be more specific.
I know that some of us already know Italian history but I think that others are a little stuck and need a more detailed picture of the past to move forward in their genealogy research.
Hope you enjoy it.
Why was Sicily difficult to govern during the nineteenth century?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Part of the problem was that the unification of Italy happened suddenly and in a quite unexpected fashion. When Giuseppe Garibaldi and his 'Thousand' volunteers set sail for Sicily on 6 May 1860, few on board could have fully anticipated the momentous consequences of their actions. Yet the extraordinary success of Garibaldi's expedition in overthrowing the Bourbon government drastically altered the political structure of the entire Italian peninsula. By September 1860, after only four months, Garibaldi controlled the whole of Southern Italy and was preparing an army to take Rome from the Pope and make it the capital of a united ItalyÃ¢â‚¬Â
Thank you Emiro for this too early part of Sicilian history to warrant its basis for immigration to the USA by the millions of Sicilians and southern Italians in the latter half of the 19th century soon after the American Civil war ended. Whta prompted immigration was the unification of Italy. Prior to 1872 Below the papal States existed the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies which was a well organziaed kingdom with a relatively prosperous economy, state treasury and government bureaucracy tailored along Napoleonic lines. The north of Italy, however was not so well organized adminsitratively, suffering from economic depression and under froegin domination of one sort or another. Thus in this first half of the 18th century, Northern Italians flocked to South America, to Argentina, To Ugurguay and Chile since that was the beacon for immigrants from that area of Italy. Agriculure, animal raising, wool and leather, cotton and wheat and anicillary industrial activities needed manpower which Northern Italy supplied thru immigration.
After the unification of Italy in 1872, Northern Italy became the powerhoise, the new "owners" of the former Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The house of Savoy and the landed aristocracy of the new Italy all in the North of Italy descended mercilessly on the south. They looted the treasury of the Former Kingdom of the two sicilies, dismantled factories and faciklities and shipped them north. theuy appropriated huge tracts of land and reduced the peasantry to starving landless, starving wretches. Rebellions were put down mercilessly (read the Sicilian vespers) and lawlessness became the orderof the day. In the midst of all this choas and hurt, the UNITED STATES issued a call for immigrants to feeed the new industrial revolution taking place here after the civil war. They needed men for mines, dams, railroads, factories, and consturction, art work, municipal works of basic necessities like sewers, reservoirs,canals and paved streets. It is in this climate that millions poured out of southern Italy and fled not run but fled to the United States with the blessing of the unified Italy who consolidated their economic hold over Southern Italy so much so that the ignorance and poverty endured until Mussolini came to Power. The rest we know. Peter
Peter! There were many events that shaped the Italian History. It would be extremely difficult and extensive to talk about each of the three kingdoms and the internal and external variables that shaped their politics, financial and social structure before and after the unification. That is the reason by which I am focusing on the Kingdom of the two Sicilies. My intention is to provide some background info I have to those who would like to know or have a sequential and better understanding of some events that occurred in Sicily before the unification and the migration that followed.
The information you posted is great, straight to the point. The one I am posting is intended to help people think a little more about what happened before the unification. I expect that to create new patterns of ideas/thoughts that will help them get more interested and move forward in their research.
Once again, thank you very much for your comments and postings.
Emiro if you stop to think about the reason why millions of siclians and southern Italians resding in the once upon Kingdom of the two Sicilies without need to immigrate suddenly find themselves journeying in a leaky boat 2 to 3 weeks arriving in a country whose language was alien and foreign and all penniless and uneducated, you must stop and think what conditions would prompt you to do the same thing in this current time????None of the conditions that you set out had notbhing to do in the final analysis with forcing millions to immigrate to the United States. The history you set forth maybe of interest to you and other in refining history of the 19th century but I hardly think it is of any real interest to the majority of the people who frequent this forum in search of their roots. Your intention is noble and I admire your intellectual curiosity but even I find it boring, if yhou permit me to be candid. Bolring in the sense that it has nothning to do with mass immigration but just local politics of that area of the wiorld which while having an impact on its citizenry was of equally little interest and broing to them as long their possessions and family members and earnings were not threatened appreciably. Peter