- Historic Sites
Garibaldi And Lincoln
Would the great fighter come over for the Union? Italian freedom and lead troops Lincoln hoped so
October 1975 | Volume 26, Issue 6
Isolated on wind-wrenched Caprera, yet firm to his own vision of freedom, General Garibaldi kept up a drumfire of encouragement to the embattled United States even after the time had passed for his personal participation in the Civil War. When President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Garibaldi called him the “pilot of liberty” and wrote a letter of appreciation to him: “Heir of the thought of Christ and of [John] Brown, you will pass down to posterity under the name of the Emancipator, more enviable than any crown and any human treasure.” No reply by the President has ever come to light.
The offer did not altogether lack significance; Garibaldi had made the point that emancipation was at the moral core of the Civil War at a time when Lincoln pondered the consequences for the Union. Both men saw freedom proclaimed. And while the Emancipator still lived the would-be Union army major general in the red shirt named one of his grandsons Lincoln.