1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bissolati-Bergamaschi, Leonida

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BISSOLATI-BERGAMASCHI, LEONIDA (1857–1920), Italian statesman, was born at Cremona Feb. 20 1857. The son of Demetrio Bergamaschi, he was adopted by, and took the name of, his stepfather, Prof. Bissolati, the philosopher. At an early age he became a Socialist through his genuine sympathy with the lot of the poor, and an active member of the Italian Socialist party from its foundation in 1892. He exercised considerable influence as a journalist, editing the weeklies La Critica sociale and La Lotta di classe, and then the daily official organ of the party, L'Avanti. In 1897 he entered Parliament as member for Pescarolo; he afterwards was elected for Budrio and then for the second division of Rome (1908), which he represented until his death. Although a firm believer in the Socialist doctrine, Bissolati became more and more dissatisfied with certain aspects of the policy of the party, notably with its anti-patriotic attitude at the time of the Libyan War. In 1911 the split came, and Bissolati, together with Bonomi and some other leading Socialists, seceded from the party and formed what was known as the Reformist Socialist group, which supported the Giolitti Cabinet in its African policy on its promise of democratic reforms. At the outbreak of the World War Bissolati did not hesitate, and from the first declared himself in favour of Italian intervention on the side of the Entente against German militarism, whereas the “official” Socialist party was frankly neutralist and pro-German. When Italy entered the war he joined the army as a sergeant of the Alpini and was wounded and decorated for valour. In June 1916 the Boselli national Cabinet was constituted and Bissolati accepted office as minister without portfolio, acting as a kind of intermediary between the Cabinet and the army. After the Armistice he resigned (Dec. 1918) owing to disagreements with Sig. Orlando's Government over the Pact of London. He was opposed to the annexation by Italy of the Alto Adige because of its German population, and of North Dalmatia with its Slav majority; but he advocated the annexation of Fiume as a purely Italian town. His attitude on the Alto Adige and Dalmatian questions lost him the popularity he had hitherto enjoyed with the majority of the nation, and his speech at Milan on the League of Nations, in which he set forth these views, was unfavourably received. He came in for severe criticism for having, at a moment when Italy's representatives found their country's aspirations challenged at every turn by the Allies, to some extent given away the Italian case and provided opponents with arguments from the mouth of an Italian ex-minister. At the same time everyone recognized his sterling qualities of honesty and genuine patriotism; however much people might disagree with his views, there was no doubt that he was inspired solely by what he believed were his country's best interests and noblest traditions, and his death at Rome on May 6, 1920 was deeply regretted by all, regardless of party divisions.