Leonida Bissolati
Leonida Bissolati was a leading exponent of the Italian socialist
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 movement at the turn of the nineteenth century.


He was born from the liaison of Paolina Bergamaschi, a nurse, with Stefano Bissolati, a priest who left the Church in 1859, at age 37, and later became director of Cremona's city library and a noted scholar. At birth the child was named Leonida Bergamaschi; his name was changed at age 18, when Stefano Bissolati legally adopted him (after marrying Paolina in 1868, five years after she had become a widow).
With this family background, Leonida Bissolati naturally was a leftist already as a student at the University of Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

, where he earned his law degree at age 20. Returning to Cremona, he practiced law as an attorney and published many articles in journals and newspapers. In 1876 he was elected to the City Council of Cremona, at first in the ranks of the Radicals, then gradually moving closer to the Socialists. He served for 18 years, notably by being in charge of Public Education. He married Ginevra Coggi, who soon fell chronically illand died in 1894; later, his soulmate and companion was Carolina Cassola, whom he eventually married in 1913.

From 1889 to 1895 he organized peasant demonstrations and the social struggle for better living conditions in the countryside. In 1889 he founded "L'eco del popolo" (The Echo of the People), which subsequently became the local organ in Cremona of the Italian Socialist Party
Italian Socialist Party
The Italian Socialist Party was a socialist and later social-democratic political party in Italy founded in Genoa in 1892.Once the dominant leftist party in Italy, it was eclipsed in status by the Italian Communist Party following World War II...

 (PSI). He also published a partial translation of the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels.
In 1896 he became director of the "Avanti!
Avanti! is a 1972 American/Italian comedy film produced and directed by Billy Wilder. The film starred Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills. The screenplay by Wilder and I.A.L...

" (Forward!), the official organ of the PSI, relinquishing this post in 1903, to resume it later from 1908 to 1910.
In 1897 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament for the college of Cremona. His refusal to oppose the war on Turkey
Italo-Turkish War
The Italo-Turkish or Turco-Italian War was fought between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy from September 29, 1911 to October 18, 1912.As a result of this conflict, Italy was awarded the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania, Fezzan, and...

 for the conquest of Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 triggered his resignation as socialist Member of Parliament in February 1912; five months later he was expelled from the PSI. He promptly went on to found the Italian Reform Socialist Party
Italian Reform Socialist Party
The Italian Reform Socialist Party was a social-democratic political party in Italy.It was formed in 1912 by those leading reformists who had been expelled from the Italian Socialist Party because of their desire of entering in the majority supporting Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti...

 (Partito Socialista Riformista Italiano), with Bonomi
Ivanoe Bonomi
Ivanoe Bonomi was an Italian politician and statesman before and after World War II.Bonomi was born in Mantua. He was elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in 1909, representing Mantua as a member of the Italian Socialist Party...

 and Cabrini.

Bissolati strongly advocated Italy's entry into World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 on the side of the Triple Entente
Triple Entente
The Triple Entente was the name given to the alliance among Britain, France and Russia after the signing of the Anglo-Russian Entente in 1907....

, while his former socialist friends favored neutrality. He volunteered for the front and served with distinction, receiving a medal. Back in Rome, he served in two successive Italian Governments (those headed by Boselli
Paolo Boselli
Paolo Boselli was an Italian politician who served as the 34th Prime Minister of Italy during World War I.Boselli was born in Savona, Liguria....

 and Orlando
Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
Vittorio Emanuele Orlando was an Italian diplomat and political figure. He was born in Palermo, Sicily. His father, a landed gentleman, delayed venturing out to register his son's birth for fear of Giuseppe Garibaldi's 1,000 patriots who had just stormed into Sicily on the first leg of their march...

). He was responsible for supplying troops and keeeping in touch with the generals. At the end of the war, he supported the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 and Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

's principle of self-determination in the settling of the new national borders. This infuriated the nationalists, bent on annexing to Italy sizeable areas inhabited by Germans and Slavs in the Northeast. Attacked from all sides, he resigned from the government and withdrew from politics in December 1918, although subsequently met with Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 and urged that Italy not be given Fiume or the Dalmatian Coast.

He died in Rome of a post-operatory infection.
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