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[for the Richmond Dispatch.]
to the Italians of America.
University of Virginia, May 11, 1861.

I read in the Daily Dispatch, of the 4th instant, an article about the proposed formation of a Garibaldi Legion in New York, intended to fight against the rights and people of the South. As the name of the legion is that of the modern Italian hero, and I am a native Italian, although now a naturalized American and a resident in the State of Virginia, I feel the deepest interest for all that regards both my native and my adopted country; and I hope, therefore, that should the intention of forming such a legion be true, no Italian may enlist under its banner. The Italians of this time are naturally bound to respect, and everywhere to sustain, the principle which Italy has assumed in fighting the battles of her independence; the principle which, being now acknowledged by the civilized world in Europe, has led to the deliverance of that lately oppressed land; the principle that only despots and tyrants have dared to oppose; in short, the principle that every nation has a natural right of choosing her own government. Would it not, then be proper for every Italian, before undertaking to wage a war in favor of one party and against another which neither does nor ever did intend to do him any harm, to examine what important or rightful motive leads him to that war? Would it not be reasonable to consider which of the two parties is wrong and which is right? And, finally, would it not be his duty to ascertain whether, by declaring against one of the parties, he comes, unconscious to himself, to declare against that principle that has freed his own country from the most ignominious bondage?

Italy has been for a long time under the rule of tyrants, who constantly refused to let her have any share in her own government; who have compelled her to blindly submit to their own authority, which alone they claimed to be the lawful one; who treated as rebels any of their subjects who demanded a more just government; who treated as guilty of high treason those who dared to resist their tyranny, and who revenged with bomb and shell upon a whole nation, when she, tired of being oppressed, determined to overthrow the old, and to inaugurate a new Government. The names of those sovereigns will live eternally branded with the contempt of all future generations. King Bomba, and his worthy son and successor, King Bombetta, will be transmitted to our most remote posterity as names of horror to mankind.

Why should, then, the Italians enlist to fight against the South, as long as it has not declared war against any nation, or any party, and has only placed itself on the defensive?--The South has no wish to invade the territory of others; it only wishes to defend its own from the aggression of those who have left no exertion untried to deprive it of its vital institution, and of any share in the Government; of those who have not even scrupled to divert the ministers of the Gospel from their religious avocations, and from the standard of peace that Christ, whom they profess to worship, pointed out to them; of those who have called upon the same ministers to disfigure religion and to pollute it with the spirit of their own political party, and to train the minds of the present generation not against sin — for Christ never preached that slavery was a sin — but against an institution that they alone fanatically define as a sin. Has not this very war taken place for a long time between Italy and her tyrants? Is not the principle on which Italy has struggled entirely the same as that which the South has adopted in America? If so, why should we blame the South while we glory in the attitude of Italy?--and why should our sympathies be entirely with Italy in Europe, and against the South in America?

But the North accuses the South of having taken the forts that belonged to the United States. Here, however, we ought to consider that these forts originally belonged to the South, and that they were yielded to the Government of the United States while these United States would exist, not only physically, but morally; while the Government would be not that of one section, but of the whole Union; while the States would be equally respected as sovereigns, and treated with perfect impartiality according to the friendly spirit of the Constitution. But when a part of the States, carried away by an evident spirit of enmity against the other, should undertake to overpower it, and, by means of unjust exertions, should succeed in acquiring the Government and in imposing, therefore, its laws upon the other part, so that the latter, for its interest, for its institutions, for its existence, for the honor of its own people, is compelled to withdraw from the Union, shall it not then have a right to retake what was always its own? Should this right be denied, Italy should have allowed her tyrants to retain her forts, and to go on with their system of oppression; but no Italian, except traitors, would have left the forts in the power of the oppressors of his land.

Finally, the North maintains that the States had renounced the right ever to withdraw from the Union; but also the despots of Italy said that their beloved subjects had no right to withdraw from the oppression of their kings. We Italians do not believe in that doctrine; the civilized world has discarded that maxim as a remnant of barbarism, and with that maxim Italy could not now be what she is.

And now, my respected countrymen, do you think that Garibaldi, under the circumstances already stated, would employ his sword against the South? And if not, would he not consider the giving his name to the legion already mentioned as an insult to himself? But why do I proceed with my reasoning, when I know that no Italian — no true Italian — will enlist in that legion?

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