Agostino Depretis

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Agostino Depretis
Agostino Depretis.jpg
9th
Prime Minister of Italy
In office
March 25, 1876 – March 24, 1878
Monarch Victor Emmanuel II
Umberto
Preceded by Marco Minghetti
Succeeded by Benedetto Cairoli
In office
December 19, 1878 – July 14, 1879
Monarch Umberto I
Preceded by Benedetto Cairoli
Succeeded by Benedetto Cairoli
In office
May 29, 1881 – July 29, 1887
Monarch Umberto I
Preceded by Benedetto Cairoli
Succeeded by Francesco Crispi
Personal details
Born (1813-01-31)January 31, 1813
Stradella
Died July 29, 1887(1887-07-29) (aged 74)
Stradella
Political party Historical Left

Agostino Depretis (January 31, 1813 – July 29, 1887) was an Italian statesman. He was the Prime Minister of Italy from March 25, 1876 – March 24, 1878, December 19, 1878 – July 14, 1879, and May 29, 1881 – July 29, 1887.

Early life[edit]

Depretis was born at Bressana Bottarone, near Stradella, now in the province of Pavia (Lombardy). From early manhood he was a disciple of Giuseppe Mazzini and affiliated with the La Giovine Italia. He took an active part in the Mazzinian conspiracies and was nearly captured by the Austrians while smuggling arms into Milan. Elected deputy in 1848, he joined the Left and founded the journal Il Diritto, but held no official position until appointed governor of Brescia in 1859.

In 1860 he went to Sicily on a mission to reconcile the policy of Cavour (who desired the immediate incorporation of the island in the kingdom of Italy) with that of Giuseppe Garibaldi, who wished to postpone the Sicilian plebiscite until after the liberation of Naples and Rome. Though appointed pro-dictator of Sicily by Garibaldi, he failed in his attempt.

In government[edit]

Accepting the portfolio of public works in Urbano Rattazzi's cabinet, in 1862, he served as intermediary in arranging with Garibaldi the expedition that ended disastrously at Aspromonte. Four years later, on the outbreak of war against Austria, he entered the Ricasoli cabinet as minister of navy, and there he insisted with admiral Carlo Persano on the attack against the island of Lissa -- as a revenge for the Italian defeat of Custoza. But he also refused to give to admiral Persano detailed orders about the expedition in the Adriatic Sea against the fleet led by Wilhelm von Tegetthoff. His apologists contend, however, that, as an inexperienced civilian, he could not have made sudden changes in naval arrangements without disorganizing the fleet, and that in view of the impending hostilities he was obliged to accept the dispositions of his predecessors.

Upon the death of Rattazzi in 1873, Depretis became leader of the Left. He prepared the advent of his party to power and was called upon to form the first cabinet of the Left in 1876. Prior to this, Depretis "was a journalist-politician who had allied himself in parliament with the Left. When he came into power it was as the leader of the Left, and as such he ruled as Prime Minister, save for a brief interlude, for most of the eleven years from 1876 to 1887."[1] Overthrown by Benedetto Cairoli in March 1878 on the grist-tax question, he succeeded, in the following December, in defeating Cairoli, became again premier, but on July 3, 1879 was once more overturned by Cairoli.

Prime Minister[edit]

In November 1879 he entered the Cairoli cabinet as minister of the interior, and in May 1881 succeeded to the premiership, retaining that office until his death.

During the long interval he recomposed his cabinet four times, first throwing out Giuseppe Zanardelli and Alfredo Baccarini in order to please the Right, and subsequently bestowing portfolios upon Cesare Ricotti-Magnani, Robilant and other Conservatives, so as to complete the political process known as trasformismo. A few weeks before his death he repented of his transformist policy, and again included Francesco Crispi and Zanardelli in his cabinet.

During his long term of office he abolished the grist tax, extended suffrage, completed the railway system, aided Mancini in forming the Triple Alliance, and initiated colonial policy by the occupation of Massawa; but, at the same time, he vastly increased indirect taxation, corrupted and destroyed the fibre of parliamentary parties, and, by extravagance in public works, impaired the stability of Italian finance.[1]

Depretis (a Freemason, incidentally) and Conte di Cavour, Italy's first prime minister, are the only Italian prime ministers who died in office.

References[edit]

Preceded by
Marco Minghetti
Prime Minister of Italy
1876–1878
Succeeded by
Benedetto Cairoli
Preceded by
Luigi Melegari
Prime Minister of Italy
1877–1878
Succeeded by
Luigi Corti
Preceded by
Francesco Crispi
Italian Minister of the Interior
1878
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Zanardelli
Preceded by
Benedetto Cairoli
Prime Minister of Italy
1878–1879
Succeeded by
Benedetto Cairoli
Preceded by
Benedetto Cairoli
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1878–1879
Succeeded by
Benedetto Cairoli
Preceded by
Giuseppe Zanardelli
Italian Minister of the Interior
1878–1879
Succeeded by
Tommaso Villa
Preceded by
Tommaso Villa
Italian Minister of the Interior
1879–1887
Succeeded by
Francesco Crispi
Preceded by
Benedetto Cairoli
Prime Minister of Italy
1881–1887
Succeeded by
Francesco Crispi
Preceded by
Pasquale Mancini
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1885
Succeeded by
Carlo Felice Robilant
Preceded by
Carlo Felice Robilant
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
1887
Succeeded by
Francesco Crispi

References[edit]

External links[edit]