1. Lincoln, a movie by Steven Spielberg. 2 An Italian Map in the movie. 3 Abolition of slavery by Doge Pietro IV for Christian slaves. 4 Garibaldi received an offer from Lincoln to become the Commander in Chief of the Northern Army. 5 An Interview with Arrigo Petacco.

Doge Pietro IV Candiano by Tintoretto.

This film is a historical drama, first released in 2012. It is also now shown in Hong Kong’s cinemas, after receiving two Oscars in Hollywood: for best actor and for best production design. Apparently this was a great success for Spielberg but it was below his expectations, even if the costumes and the acting by Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) were indeed superb. About historical accuracy opinions are mixed but, generally speaking, there is a consensus that Spielberg tried his best to stick to facts.

The story around which the movie revolves is about the struggle put up by Abraham Lincoln to have the XIII amendment enshrined into the American Constitution, to outlaw slavery and involuntary servitude. It was adopted by the US Senate on December 6, 1865.
This is a very ‘American’ movie intended mostly, I believe, for home consumption. In fact slavery was abolished earlier in Europe than in the US were such blemish on their honor was erased too late, only after an horrible war.

Italian Connections
As a matter of fact the first Country to abolish the slave trade – but when Christians were involved – was Venice, under Doge Pietro IV Candiano. This happened in June 960. Nine hundred years before Lincoln and, by sheer coincidence, the twentieth Doge of the Venetian Republic suffered a fate similar to that of the 16th President of the United States. Pietro IV and his son were murdered near San Marco Square and their bodies thrown into a slaughterhouse. Later they were picked up and buried in Sant’Ilario Church.

At the beginning of the movie the spectators see a color map showing a Country, the US, split in two by the warring factions. This map is in fact Italian, as it can be clearly see by the legenda put on its left side. Probably Spielberg could not find an old map as detailed as that but made in the US.

Another connection, unknown to the general public, is the fact that Abraham Lincoln asked general Giuseppe Garibaldi to take command of the Northern Forces at the beginning of the war, but Lincoln’s offer was turned down by Garibaldi because, somehow, Lincoln was unable to offer Garibaldi’s the guarantee he had requested. This point is futher explained in the following article, published by The Guardian on 8 February 2000.

A frayed postcard in a Turin archive has revealed one of the most audacious gambles of the American civil war. Abraham Lincoln offered the command of the northern forces to Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had unified Italy.
The US president, his forces hammered by the Confederate army, turned in desperation to Garibaldi, spawning one of the greatest ‘what if’ in history.

Rumours of Lincoln’s offer have circulated for a century had been denied by American scholars, but a document proves it was no just a myth, said Arrigo Petacco, a historian.

He stumbled across the faded blue postcard, from Garibaldi to King Victor Emmanuel II telling the king about  the offer, last week while rummaging in 90 boxes of material donated by Italy’s exiled royal family.

Garibaldi caught the world’s imagination in 1860 after invading Sicily with 1,000 lightly armed red-shirts. They defeated 12,000 Neapolitan troops, took the island and, determined to unify the Italian peninsula, invaded the mainland. They occupied Naples and unleashed a wave of support.

According to Mr Petacco, the rebel, who in the 1850s had led an army in Uruguay and travelled through the US, was also a mason. The international masonic lodge successfully lobbied for him to be granted American citizenship.

Garibaldi was ready to accept Lincoln’s 1862 offer but on condition, said Mr Petacco: that the war’s objective should be set on the abolition of slavery. But at that stage Lincoln was unwilling to make such a statement lest he worsen their agricultural crisis.

“Later they offered Garibaldi the command of one unit, rather than the whole army, but at that point it was too late and he had gone on to do other things,” Mr Petacco said. “In Italy we always knew, but there was always a lot of scepticism in America. Now we know for sure.”

2 commenti su “1. Lincoln, a movie by Steven Spielberg. 2 An Italian Map in the movie. 3 Abolition of slavery by Doge Pietro IV for Christian slaves. 4 Garibaldi received an offer from Lincoln to become the Commander in Chief of the Northern Army. 5 An Interview with Arrigo Petacco.

  1. Always interesting openings, thank you, it is a pleasure to read history in this incredible way.
    I hate Garibaldi, but, you know, he is a great character and his saga is truly compelling.

    It is not clear the phrase “Another connection, unknown to the general public, is the fact that Abraham Lincoln asked general Giuseppe Garibaldi to take command of the Northern Forces at the beginning of the war, because somehow he was unable to offer Garibaldi’s the guarantee he had requested.”

  2. Thank you, Ciriaco. It is what is then explained in the Article published on The Guardian, Lincoln could not guarantee to Garibaldi that they were fighting solely against slavery.

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