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Silvio Spaventa

Silvio Spaventa, Champion of a unitary Italy, proponent of the Hegelian state, and severe administrator, Spaventa played an important role in the Neapolitan revolution of 1848 but an even more central one in the post-unification period. Born in Bomba (Chieti) on May 10, 1822, he shared early his brother Bertrando's interest in philosophy and politics. In March 1848 he founded a journal of republican tendencies, Il Nazionale, which supported both the on going revolution in Naples and the movement toward Italian unification. Elected to the Neapolitan Chamber of Deputies in April, he soon lost faith in the Bourbon kings's pledge of constitutional rule, particularly after Ferdinand II brutally crushed the disturbances of May 15 and ejected the deputies from their chamber. During the summer he helped found with Luigi Settembrini a secret society, Unitá italiana devoted to ousting the dynasty and promoting unification. Later in the year he went to Turin to attend a Gioberti-sponsored congress for an Italian confederation. Following the collapse of the revolution in Naples, in March 1848 he was arrested and sentenced to death after a long trial notorious for its irregularities. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and in 1859 to banishment. He returned to Naples in 1860 to support Cavour against both Bourbons and Garibaldi.

After unification he held important public posts. True to his conception of the state as guide to and guarantor of material and moral progress, he favored public ownership of the country's railways and equity in public administration. He died in Rome on June 21, 1893.
Saladino Salvatore


Giulio Chiodi. La giustizia amministrativa nel pensiero politico di Silvio Spaventa. Bari: Laterza, 1969.

Silvio Spaventa, La giustizia nell'amministrazione. Milan: G. Einaudi, 1949.

Enzo Tagliacozzo, Il pensiero di Silvio Spaventa. Milan: Dante Alighieri, 1932.

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