“William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini: Abolition, Democracy, and Radical Reform”

Most Civil War readers will immediately recognize one name in the title of this book. William Lloyd Garrison was a pre-eminent American abolitionist; his was a multi-decade fight for the immediate end to slavery in the United States. The less-familiar Giuseppe Mazzini was Italian and his lengthy campaign was the creation of a democratic nation in his home country.

Author Enrico Dal Lago is a lecturer in American History at National University of Ireland. While his European roots might suggest a stronger connection to Mazzini’s side of the story, Dal Lago has two previous books dealing with American slavery. Those two books deal with putting America’s “Peculiar Institution” in context with what was going on the rest of the world in the first half of the 1800s.

Dal Lago convincingly establishes a connection between the two men. While culturally and socially opposites, they were contemporaries and both “came to be practically identified with [their] causes.” As Dal Lago notes, in the 19th-century Italy and America were “profoundly divided societies” and Garrison and Mazzini were key figures in the creation of movements that carried their radical messages and goals. Central to each, notes Dal Lago, was a “common ground” involving “a struggle for national freedom….” It is not only Dal Lago that has realized the connection; both men came to recognize their similarities and in 1846, met and began a long-lasting friendship.

The book is structured chronologically, reinforcing the connections through seven chapters that study parallel developments in the two men’s lives and movements. This study is part of LSU’s “Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War” series, which currently includes 51 titles. The stated goals of the collection include one in which this book strongly fits: “transnational studies that delineate the American Civil War in hemispheric and global contexts.” Supplying that context is the strength of this book. It helps make clear that the Civil War did not happen in a vacuum; events, personalities and ideologies in the United States influenced various movements across the world, and in turn, were similar shaped by those global forces.

Title: William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini:

Abolition, Democracy, and Radical Reform

Author: Enrico Dal Lago

Publisher: Louisiana State University Press

Pages: 288

Price: $42.50

Hard Cover