Garibaldi Shirt

   The great Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882) was born at Nice, which then belonged to France but subsequently became part of the kingdom of Sardinia, and then part of France again in 1860. Following in his father's footsteps, Garibaldi went to sea at age fifteen. His first patriotic venture was an unsuccessful insurrection at Genoa with Giuseppe Mazzini, a famous revolutionary, to promote Italian liberty. After some years as a guerrilla fighter in South America, he returned to Italy and became involved in warfare of different sorts, but he was then exiled and left for the United States.
   In 1854 he was allowed to return to Italy. Garibaldi organized what amounted to a private army and led his famous "Red shirts" against Sicily and Naples, capturing both from Francis II, the last ruler of the two Sicilies. That victory led to Italian unification, and for several months, Garibaldi ruled as dictator of half of Italy. But he voluntarily surrendered his control to form the kingdom of Italy under King Victor Emmanuel II.
   President Abraham Lincoln offered Garibaldi a Civil War command, which he refused, but he did make a triumphant tour of Britain, where he was hailed as the "hero of two worlds." After a few more war experiences, he was elected to the French National Assembly but was refused a seat by the other deputies. In 1874 he was elected to the Parliament in Italy, and he retired from public life in 1876.
   Garibaldi believed in racial equality and female emancipation and championed the abolition of capital punishment. He was a great liberal, a statesman far ahead of his time. His honesty and good nature made him a favorite with the common people.
   The uniform of red shirts was a matter of chance, according to legend. When Garibaldi was raising an army in Montevideo in 1843, a number of red woolen shirts came on the market as a result of trade difficulties caused by the war with Argentina. The government of Uruguay bought them up cheaply and gave them to Garibaldi for his men. When the Italian Legion came over to Italy, they marched in wearing their red shirts.
   A woman's loose, high-necked blouse with full sleeves, resembling those that Garibaldi's followers wore, and a brilliant orange fish (Hypsypopa rubicundus) found along the Southern California coast, were named for him. Mount Garibaldi, a peak in southern British Columbia, now a popular year-round recreational district, was named by Captain George H. Richads, circa 1860, for the Italian patriot.

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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