Modern History Sourcebook:
Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61
The Program of Count Cavour, 1846:
The history of every age proves that no people can attain a high
degree of intelligence and morality unless its feeling of nationality
is strongly developed. This noteworthy fact is an inevitable consequence
of the laws that rule human nature. . . .Therefore, if we so ardently
desire the emancipation of Italy--if we declare that in the face
of this great question all the petty questions that divide us
must be silenced--it is not only that we may see our country glorious
and powerful but that above all we may elevate her in intelligence
and moral development up to the plane of the most civilized nations.
. . .This union we preach with such ardor is not so difficult
to obtain as one might suppose if one judged only by exterior
appearances or if one were preoccupied with our unhappy divisions.
Nationalism has become general; it grows daily; and it has already
grown strong enough to keep all parts of Italy united despite
the differences that distinguish them.
Speech to the Piedmont Chamber of Deputies, 1858:
After the disaster of Novara and the Peace of Milan , two
courses were open to us. We could, bowing to adverse fate, renounce
all the aspirations which had guided King Carlo Alberto during
the last years of his reign, seal ourselves up within our frontiers,
think only of the material and moral interests of this country
[Piedmont-Sardinia]. . . On the other hand, we could, while accepting
all the hardships imposed by accomplished facts, keep alive the
faith that inspired the great actions of King Carlo Alberto, and,
while declaring our firm intention to respect treaties, maintain
in the political sphere the enterprise which was defeated in the
military sphere [Italian unification]. . . In recent years, therefore,
we have tried to do away with the last hindrances to our country,
and we have lost no occasion to act as the spokesman and defender
of the other peoples of Italy. This policy found one such occasion
in the Crimean War. . . .Our hopes were not disappointed in regard
to the credit that Piedmont would acquire. As for the defense
of the rights of Italy, that was our task in the course of the
Congress of Paris. . . .it was an outstanding fact that the cause
of Italy was for the first time supported by an Italian power.
Report of the meeting of Count Cavour with Emperor
Napoleon III of France, 1858:
The Emperor started by saying that he had decided to support Sardinia
with all his forces in a war against Austria, provided that the
war was undertaken for a non-revolutionary cause, which could
be justified in the eyes of diplomacy and still more of public
opinion in France and Europe.
Speech of Vittorio Emanuele I, King of Italy,
Free, and nearly entirely united, the opinion of civilized nations
is favorable to us; the just and liberal principles, now prevailing
in the councils of Europe, are favorable to us. Italy herself,
too, will become a guarantee of order and peace, and will once
more be an efficacious instrument of universal civilization. .
. .These facts have inspired the nation with great confidence
in its own destinies. I take pleasure in manifesting to the first
Parliament of Italy the joy I feel in my heart as king and soldier.
From: D. Zanichelli, ed., The Writings of Count Cavour (Bologna, 1892), II:4-50; The Annual Register or a View of
the History and Politics of the Year 1858 (London, 1859),
pp. 186-188; Count C. Arrivabene, Italy under Victor Emmanuel (London, 1862), I:349-353.
Scanned by Jerome S. Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton
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(c)Paul Halsall May1998