Happy Fourth of July!

Did you ever imagine that Italians were involved in the American Revolution? One of the first casualties of this war was James Bracco, killed in action by the British army on October 26, 1776. Even before the Revolution, Americans were inspired by another Italian, Pasquale Paoli, who had led Corsica’s fight for independence from Genoa for about fourteen years. So it is not surprising that Italians supported the Americans in their fight for freedom.

One famous example is Filippo Mazzei who was a doctor, winemaker, author and a good friend of Thomas Jefferson. Mazzei wrote newspaper articles to inspire the formation of local volunteer militia in every county in Virginia. When the British landed in Hampton, Virginia, Mazzei and his friends Carlo Bellini and Vincenzo Rossi joined Patrick Henry’s volunteer forces to fight the British.

British war records show that Filippo Mazzei was captured and spent three years as a prisoner of war. When he was released, Patrick Henry sent him to Europe to raise support for the American cause and he succeeded in getting help from France. Mazzei’s plan involved a coordinated effort between the French Navy and the American Army which Thomas Jefferson used in the Battle of Yorktown. We can be proud that Italians helped us gain our independence and were willing to fight for our cause.

More recently in 1958, then Senator John F. Kennedy acknowledged Mazzei’s contribution to the US Declaration of Independence in his book, “A National of Immigrants”:

“The great doctrine, ‘All men are created equal’ incorporated into the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson, was paraphrased from the writing of Philip Mazzei, an Italian-born patriot and pamphleteer, who was a close friend of Jefferson.”

To those who doubted this statement, Senator Kennedy goes on to say:

“This phrase appears in Italian in Mazzei’s own hand, written in Italian, several years prior to the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Mazzei and Jefferson often exchanged ideas about true liberty and freedom.”

Filippo Mazzei’s 250th birthday was commememorated on a US postage stamp in 1980 and a World War II ship was named in his honor. Let’s continue to honor his contribution to our nation’s history.

Happy Independence Day!

Submitted by Charlene Pardo



Filippo Mazzei, Wikipedia.com

A Nation of Immigrants, John F. Kennedy, 1958.