The Italian-American Vote in Providence, Rhode Island, 1916-1948

By Stefano Luconi | Go to book overview
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The Postwar Decade

IT WAS ONLY IN THE 1920 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THAT THE REPUBLIcan Party received a majority of the Italian-American vote in Providence. This year, 61.9 percent of the Italian Americans who went to the polls cast their ballots for the Republican candidate for the White House, Warren G. Harding. Such electoral outcome, however, was less the consequence of patronage distribution and political recognition than the effect of the aftershocks of the end of World War I.1

Indeed, the allotment of the plums of the GOP under the spoils system after the 1918 state and local elections failed to meet Italian Americans' expectations and, therefore, cannot account for the defection of their community from the Democratic ranks in 1920. At the state level, the Republican state administration that took office in 1919 almost exclusively confined itself to promoting Capotosto to the position of first assistant attorney of Rhode Island. In addition, the appointments made by Providence's incoming City Council, in which the GOP still retained a majority of the seats despite the election of a Democratic mayor in 1918, disappointed Italian Americans. Actually, Vito N. Famiglietti, inspector of port and pearl ashes, was the only city officer of Italian descent whom the Common Council had appointed out of a total of eighty-four nominees. No Italian American was included among the forty-five city officials whom the Board of Aldermen had selected. In addition, there were as few as one Italian-American employee in the Legislative Department, two in the Health Department, and two in the Engineer's Department within a workforce of more than four hundred people. As a matter of fact, L'Eco del Rhode Island complained that

we cannot read the name of any Italian in the long list of the new depart-
ment heads, which is of very little satisfaction for a colony that pays


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The Italian-American Vote in Providence, Rhode Island, 1916-1948


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