• The Hammonton Gazette

Italians played a role in American independence



We as Americans just celebrated our nation’s Independence Day.


I have always loved the story of the revolution and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Maybe it was because we grew up near Philadelphia.


Just a short ride into Philly and to the old Pennsylvania State House now Independence Hall.


Thousands of students pour through the Hall each year to learn about the Founding Fathers.


But it was not until I conducted a Google search that I learned about two men who had Italian ancestry who signed the Declaration of Independence.


“Caesar Rodney, an attorney and politician who was born on his family’s farm in Delaware, descended from the Adelmare family of Treviso, Italy. In July 1776, though stricken with cancer, he rode through thunder and rain to vote for independence,” according to artsandculture.google.com.


The other was “[William] Paca was an important Revolutionary War general and an early senator from Maryland who later became governor,” the same article said.


That was pretty cool to read and learn.


I always thought Italians came to the country with the massive migration waves of the late 1800s and early 1900s.


To think Italian people had an impact on the founding of the nation, I call home is pretty cool.

In my research, I learned about Philip Mazzei.


“[He was] a Florentine nobleman and medical student who inspired Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine in their political writings. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to label Mazzei as an ‘assisting Founding Father’ for his impact upon the philosophical principles of this country,” pressbooks.ulib.csuohio.edu informed me.


Mazzei wrote under a pen name as a contributor to the Virginia Gazette and his writings were translated by Jefferson, the article said.


Mazzei wrote, and Jefferson translated, “All men are by nature equally free and independent. Such equality is necessary in order to create a free government.”


This thought Jefferson included in the Declaration of Independence:


“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”


The impact of Italians on the new nation of America had a larger impact than I could even imagine.


So many people don’t see beyond quality food Italians have shared with the American people and the world and movies like The Godfather. Italians helped build this country from its early roots and helped shape some of the ideals our founding fathers built the country upon.

Happy Birthday America! I am proud to be part of this amazing nation.


Do you have a story about growing up Italian, either in Hammonton or anywhere else? Send it to hammontongazette@yahoo.com.