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Crispi

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CRISPI, Francesco, Italian statesman: b. Ribera, Sicily, 4 Oct. 1819; d. 11 Aug. 1901. He studied law at the University of Palermo, taking the degree of doctor of laws at the age of 18 and settled at Naples in 1846. He took part in the Sicilian revolution at Palermo (1848), but when the Bourbon government was reinstated he fled to Piedmont, where he en gaged in journalism for various radical papers and in private studies. He must have been in bad financial straits, for he actually con descended to apply for the wretched position of communal secretary to Verolengo, a small village of Piedmont, which he was denied. He was offered a position in journalistic work on a journal supported by Cavour, but his adverse principles made him refuse the post. In 1853 he became implicated in Mazzini's attempt to raise an insurrection in Lombardy and he was consequently exiled. He thereupon went to Malta and thence to France and London, where he made the personal acquaintance of Mazzini, to whom he became devoted. Both conspired for the freedom of Sicily. After the war of 1859 Crispi returned to Italy, set moving his plans for insurrection and in 1860 assisted Gari baldi in the expedition of the Thousand for the deliverance of the two Sicilies. Palermo fell, and Crispi was at once made Minister of In terior and Finance in the provisional govern ment. Italy's immediate annexation of the Sicilies caused Crispi to resign. He was sent to the Italian Parliament as first representative from Palermo, where he immediately made him self conspicuous, first as the leader of the radical Left and then as an exponent of monarchical constitutionalism. It was at this time that he wrote to Mazzini his article of faith: "The monarchy unites us; the republic would divide us." In 1876 he became Minister of the Interior. In the following year he visited the European countries and came to know their leading representatives. In Decem ber 1877 he became Minister of the Interior in the Depretis Cabinet, and during this time as sisted in securing the establishment of a unified monarchy under Humbert I of Italy. He was, however, denounced and removed from office on a charge of bigamy. His acquittal did not

win public opinion to his favor, and it was not until 1887 that he resumed his office. In July 1887 he became Premier and head of Foreign Affairs, on the death of Depretis. As an earnest supporter of the Triple Alliance, he became a friend of Bismarck. The pending Franco Italian commercial treaty was broken off. His vigorous policy reformed the courts and secured the adoption of commercial and sanitary laws. But he was overthrown in February 1891, and the succeeding cabinet found him an effective opponent in the Chamber of Deputies. In 1893 he was recalled to office and immediately en tered upon a resolute suppression of disorders, and reorganization of public financial adminis tration on the lines suggested by Sonnino. The radical leader, Cavaloth, became his bitter op ponent, resorting to all sorts of underhand methods of ruining the reputation of Crispi. Several attempts were made on his life; but popular favor retained him in office, until, on the defeat of the Italians in Abyssinia, he resigned, to be succeeded by the Rudini Cabinet, which was in sympathy with Cavalotti. Charges were brought against him for swindling public money, but the Chamber refused to prosecute on discovery that the ground for the accusation was the irregular handling of a sum for the use of secret service. Crispi's resignation from Parliament was soon annulled by his over whelming re-election in 1898. His failing eye sight caused him to withdraw from politics temporarily, but with a successful operation, he again wrote articles in behalf of the Triple Alliance and remained an important public figure to the last. Crispi's greatness is no longer disputed. His splendid, vigorous persistence brought Italy to the point of taking its place among the Powers of Europe and gained for that country a trust and confidence which it had never before enjoyed. Consult Stillman, W. J., 'Francesco Crispi' (London 1899) ; a translation of his memoirs by Agnetti (London 1912); Crispi, T. P., 'Francesco Crispi' (Milan 1913).