Masonic Bios

Giuseppe Garibaldi


Renowned Italian patriot, born at Nice, July 4, 1807, died June 2, 1882, at Caprera, a small island off the north coast of Sardinia in the Mediterranean Sea. Son of a sailor, he commanded a vessel in 1830; was condemned to death in 1834 as a revolutionist but escaped to South America; his limbs were dislocated by torture while the prisoner in the revolt against Brazil, and regaining his liberty he enabled Uruguay to secure independence and returned to Italy, refusing any recompense. Forming a new army he was pursued by the forces of France, Spain, Austria, and Naples, lost his wife and most of his followers by death and escaped to New York, where he prospered, and returned to Italy in 1854.

Took command of Alpine infantry in war of 1859 and was from that time successfully engaged in the many struggles for a united Italy. His biography in the books by G. M. Trevelyan is most exhilarating reading. As a Freemason he was Grand Master at Palermo, 1860, and called a convention in 1867 to unite all the Italian Bodies, a project not then fully successful. Through the courtesy of Brother Melvin M. Johnson, Past Grand Master, Massachusetts, an incident relating to General Garibaldi was verified for us. Brother Curtis Guild, Jr., died in 1915, had been governor of Massachusetts for three years and later was Ambassador to Russia, his last year as Governor was also the first of his two years as Thrice Potent Master of Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection.

He had a sister and brother, Courtenay Guild, 32. The account that follows is as both remember their father telling it a number of times:

My father, Curtis Guild, who died in 1911, was a Knight Templar, 32 Mason, and Past Thrice Potent Master of Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection. My brother, Curtis build, who died in l915, was a Knight Templar, 33 Mason and Past Thrice Potent Master of Boston Lafayette Lodge of Perfection. The story of my father's meeting with Garibaldi was told by my father and by my brother at various Masonic meetings and the desire to preserve an accurate record of the incident is my reason for writing out the story that I heard many times from the lips of my father. In 1867 my father and mother made their first visit to Europe, and after travel in England, France and Switzerland had arrived in Florence, with the intention of continuing the journey to Rome. It was summer, and there was some talk of an epidemic of cholera in Rome although little was said about the scourge in the newspapers. If there were an actual epidemic of cholera in Rome it would be most imprudent for American travelers to visit the city, but how could one learn the truth? General Giuseppe Garibaldi, with his army of red-shirted soldiers, was preparing his campaign for a united Italy, that achieved success in 1870, and his headquarters were established in Florence. General Garibaldi was at one time Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Italy. Wry father knew him to be a Mason, and had doubtless sat in a Lodge with him during one of his visits to America, so he decided to call on the General and ask his advice.

The idea of an American traveler making a social call on the chief of a revolutionary army was ridiculed, but this traveler felt that he had the benefit of a pass that would gain him admission. He went to the General's headquarters where there were about twenty men before him awaiting an audience. On his card that he handed to the Orderly were these words:

Curtis Guild, Boston, America 32

It was a surprise to the traveler as well as to the others when the Orderly returned from an inner room and said that the General would receive the American gentleman at once. The General spoke excellent English. "What can I do for you, Mr. Guild?" were his first words after greetings had been exchanged, and in answer to the inquiry about the cholera he said: "Don't go to Rome. The local government tries to keep the facts out of the papers, but there are a hundred new cases of cholera a day there, and there is a better reason why you should not go to Rome. Under pledge of Masonic secrecy I tell you that you might find it easier to get into Rome than to get out." My father thanked the General and could only say to his wife and friends that he had decided not to go to Rome. The following week the army of Garibaldi besieged Rome, and many American travelers in the city were shut up there and delayed so that they missed the steamers on which they had engaged rooms for the return journey to America. The pledge of secrecy was, of course, removed after the siege of Rome was begun, and my father used to enjoy telling the story when anybody asked, "What's the use of Masonry?"

In 1920 Miss Italia Anita Garibaldi, granddaughter of the General, visited America and delivered a number of lectures for the benefit of her family. Hearing her speak before a club in Boston, I was permitted after the lecture to tell to her and to the club my father's adventure. In connection with subsequent lectures it was a pleasure to me to be able to render service of some value to this daughter, granddaughter, and sister of Masons, in recognition of the favor to my parents fifty-three years before.

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry

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