A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Piedmont-Sardinia
When the United States declared independence from Great Britain in 1776, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was an independent and sovereign state. The entity referred to commonly in U.S. foreign policy correspondence as the Kingdom of Sardinia is more commonly known as the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, as Piedmont and Sardinia were politically joined after 1720.
Ruled by the House of Savoy out of the capital of Turin, Piedmont-Sardinia sided with Austria when war broke out between Austria and Revolutionary France in 1792. The French triumphed and descended into the Italian peninsula, bringing with them revolutionary ideas about government and society, and overthrowing the old established ruling orders. In 1799 the Austrian and Russian armies pushed the French out of the Italian peninsula, which spelled the demise of the fledgling republics. After Napoleon’s rise to power, the Italian peninsula was once again conquered by the French. The House of Savoy fled to Sardinia while Piedmont was annexed directly to the French Empire during the early years of the nineteenth century. Following the Congress of Vienna of 1815, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was reconstituted and enlarged to include Genoa.
The first act of mutual recognition between the United States and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia occurred in 1802 and diplomatic relations were established in 1839. As Piedmont-Sardinia industrialized during the 1840s and 1850s, trade between the two states developed. When the Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861, the King of Piedmont-Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II, became King of Italy. At this time, the United States appointed its first Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Italy. The capital of the new kingdom was located in Turin (the old seat of government for the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia). During the next ten years, the seat of government for the new Kingdom of Italy moved twice, first to Florence (in 1865) and finally to Rome (in 1871), and with it, the American Legation.
Mutual Recognition, 1802.
In an act of mutual recognition, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia accepted the U.S. Consular Agent at Cagliari, François de Navoni, in 1802.
The earliest U.S. consulates in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia were at Cagliari and Genoa.
The first U.S. consulate in Piedmont-Sardinia opened at Cagliari in 1802 with François de Navoni as U.S. Consul. However, the oldest U.S. consulate in the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was Genoa, which was incorporated into Piedmont-Sardinia as a result of the Congress of Vienna in 1815. A third U.S. Consulate opened at Nice in 1818 with Victor Adolphus Sasserno as U.S. Consul.
Piedmont-Sardinia’s first consul in the United States Gaspare Deabbate was accredited on May 18, 1820, as Consul General at Philadelphia.
Expansion of Relations, 1839.
The United States established full diplomatic relations with Piedmont-Sardinia on February 7, 1839, when United States accepted the credentials of Count August Avogadro de Collobiano as the first Chargé d’Affaires at Washington from the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.
The United States established a legation to the Kingdom of Sardinia at Turin in 1840. The first U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was Hezekiah Gold Rogers, who presented his credentials on September 15, 1840.
Establishment of the American Legation in Turin, 1840.
The American Legation at Turin was established when U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Hezekiah Gold Rogers was accredited on September 15, 1840.
Cessation of Relations, 1861.
When the King of Piedmont-Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II, was proclaimed King of Italy on March 17, 1861, George Perkins Marsh was appointed U.S. Minister to the King of Italy at Turin on April 26, 1861. That year, the Chargé d’Affaires from Piedmont-Sardinia, Joseph Bertinatti, was promoted to Italian minister-resident.
Treaties and Agreements
Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, 1838.
On November 26, 1838, the United States signed a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with the King of Sardinia in Genoa. The agreement was signed by U.S. Special Agent to the Kingdom of Sardinia Nathaniel Niles and Count Clement Solar de la Marguerite, First Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the King of Sardinia.
Key Diplomatic Events
Franco-Austrian War, 1859.
After striking an alliance with Napoleon III’s France, Piedmont-Sardinia provoked Austria to declare war in 1859, thus launching the conflict that served to unify the northern Italian states together against their common enemy: the Austrian Army. The Austrians suffered military defeats at Magenta and Solferino, and a ceasefire was agreed to at Villafranca. In the peace negotiations, Austria ceded Lombardy to France, which then ceded it to Piedmont-Sardinia.
Proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy, 1861.
The aftermath of the Franco-Austrian War brought about a series of plebiscites in the northern Italian states. By going to the ballot box, the states voted to join Piedmont-Sardinia, with the ultimate goal of unifying the entire peninsula. It should be noted that Piedmont-Sardinia was one of the more powerful states in the peninsula, as well as having one of the most liberal political systems. Garibaldi’s march to “liberate” the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies in 1860 brought the southern peninsula into the fold, and the new Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed on March 17, 1861, with the royal family of Piedmont-Sardinia as the new ruling monarchs of Italy.
U.S. Recognition of Italian Independence, 1861.
The United States officially recognized the Kingdom of Italy when it accepted the credentials of Chevalier Joseph Bertinatti as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Italy on April 11, 1861.
Issues Relevant to U.S. Foreign Diplomacy
Trade and Commerce.
Talks to open full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia began in 1837. The original motivation was to stimulate trade and commercial ties between the two states. The United States wanted to modify duties imposed upon its tobacco exports to the kingdom. Moreover, it was hoped that by establishing diplomatic relations and developing trade, both countries would benefit. In addition to tobacco, the United States wanted an export market for raw cotton, fish, timber, and other manufactured items, while it sought to import the silk and cotton fabrics manufactured by Piedmont-Sardinia.
Another issue at stake in diplomatic relations between the United States and the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia was the U.S. desire for a Mediterranean port at which the U.S. Navy could refuel and restock. In June 1848 the Government of Piedmont-Sardinia granted permission for the United States to establish a naval depot at the port town of Spezia. The United States used Spezia until 1868, when Piedmont-Sardinia re-took Spezia for use for its own naval depot.
- Pietro Orsi, Cavour and the Making of Modern Italy, 1810-1861, (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1914).
- Denis Mack Smith. Modern Italy: A Political History. (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1997).
- Howard R. Marraro, Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Volume I: 1816-1850, (New York: S.F. Vanni (Ragusa), 1951.
- Howard R. Marraro, “Spezia” An American Naval Base, 1848-68,” Military Affairs, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Winter, 1943), 202-208.
- Sister Mary Philip Trauth, “Italo-American Diplomatic Relations 1861-1882: The Mission of George Perkins Marsh, First American Minister to the Kingdom of Italy,” Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1958.