Three Models for Unification
From the 1830s until unification, Italian intellectuals ardently discussed not whether the peninsula would be unified but how unification might take place and what would be its future. In interweaving these questions, they produced responses that further stimulated the desire for independence and unity.
By the early 1830s progress toward unification had reached a peak and then stagnated. The idea of unity had achieved widespread acceptance among Italian opinion makers, but the means of achieving this goal remained elusive. The Carboneria and other secret societies had failed: They had demonstrated their capacity to overthrow existing governments but not to challenge Austrian hegemony; their opposition to current conditions appealed to large numbers of people, but their lack of a rigorous ideology failed to galvanize them, and their elaborate rituals masked ineffectiveness.
The man who would reinvigorate the struggle for Italian liberty, Giuseppe Mazzini, became a carbonaro in 1827, the same year he obtained a law degree. A sickly child who later became the epitome of the romantic revolutionary, given to playing the guitar and smoking cigars, Mazzini had aimed at a career in medicine, like his father, but gave up that hope after feeling faint while observing an operation. He seemed destined to become a revolutionary, supported by a devoted mother and basking early in the revolutionary recollections of his father. The elder Mazzini pushed his son to choose literature as a vocation but encountered the stubborn resistance of his wife. Giuseppe’s mother regarded her son as a messiah, fueling the mythical quality that came to surround him. She recounted that at age eleven, her son ran up to a beggar, threw his arms around him, and asked her to give him something. The beggar exclaimed, prophetically, "Love him dearly, signora. He is one who will love the people." All