I can assure you, public service
is a stimulating, proud and lively
enterprise. It is not just a way of
life, it is a way to live fully. Its
greatest attraction is the sheer
challenge of it – struggling to
find solutions to the great issues
of the day. It can fulfill your
highest aspirations. The call to
service is one of the highest
callings you will hear and your
country can make.
Lee H. Hamilton
Chairman of 9/11 Commission
The words in the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal” were suggested to Thomas Jefferson by Filippo Mazzei, a Tuscan physician, business man, pamphleteer and Jefferson’s friend and neighbor. Mazzei’s original words were “All men are by nature equally free and independent.” Philip Mazzei (December 25, 1730-March 19, 1816) was a promoter of liberty and acted as an agent to purchase arms for Virginia during the American Revolutionary War.
Mazzei was born in Poggio a Caiano in Tuscany. He studied medicine in Florence and practiced in Italy and in the Middle East for several years before moving to London in 1755 to take up a mercantile career as an importer. While in London he met the Americans Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Adams of Virginia. They convinced him to undertake his next venture. In 1773 he led a group of Italians, who came to Virginia to introduce the cultivation of vineyards, olives and other Mediterranean fruits. Mazzei became a neighbor and friend of Thomas Jefferson. Mazzei and Jefferson started what became the first commercial vineyard in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They shared an interest in politics and libertarian values and maintained an active correspondence for the rest of Mazzei’s life.
In 1779 Mazzei returned to Italy as a secret agent for the state of Virginia. He purchased and shipped arms to them until 1783. After briefly visiting the United States again in 1785, Mazzei travelled throughout Europe promoting Republican ideals. He wrote a political history of the American Revolution, “Recherches historiques et politiques sur les Etats-Unis de l’Amerique septentrionale” and published it in Paris in 1788. After its publication Mazzei became an unofficial roving ambassador in Europe for American ideas and institutions.
He later spent more time in France, becoming active in the politics of the French Revolution under the Directorate. When Napoleon overthrew that governmen,t Mazzei returned to Pisa, Italy. He died there in 1816. After his death the remainder of his family returned to the United States at the urging of Thomas Jefferson. They settled in Massachusetts and Virginia. Mazzei’s daughter married the nephew of John Adams.
Gemelli with Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 medium head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1” florets
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. dried gemelli pasta or other short pasta
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- Juice and zest of 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted
Heat the oven to 500° F. Mix together ¼ cup oil, oregano, garlic, cauliflower and salt and pepper in a bowl and spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
Bake until the cauliflower is golden brown and tender, 25–30 minutes.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain.
Toss cauliflower mixture with remaining oil, pasta, almonds, raisins, parsley, lemon juice and zest. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve topped withthe toasted bread crumbs.
John Orlando Pastore
John Orlando Pastore (March 17, 1907 –July 15, 2000) was an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as a United States Senator from Rhode Island from 1950 to 1976. He previously served as the 61st Governor of Rhode Island from 1945 to 1950. He was the first Italian American to be elected as a governor or as a senator.
John Pastore was born in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. The second of five children and the son of Michele and Erminia (née Asprinio) Pastore, who were Italian immigrants. His father, a tailor, had moved from Potenza to the United States in 1899 and he died when John was nine. His mother went to work as a seamstress to support the family. She married her late husband’s brother, Salvatore, who also ran a tailoring business. As a child, Pastore worked delivering coats and suits for his stepfather, as an errand boy in a law office and as a foot-press operator in a jewelry factory. Pastore graduated with honors from Classical High School in 1925 and earned a Bachelor of Law degree in 1931. He was admitted to the bar the following year and established a law office in the basement of his family’s home, but attracted few clients due to the Great Depression.
In over 50 years in public office, Pastore never lost an election. He began his political career as a state assemblyman in 1934. As governor, he was reelected in 1946 and then again in 1948 by a record 73,000 vote margin over his opponents. As a senator, Pastore served as the chairman of United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. He is probably best remembered for taking part in a hearing involving a $20 million grant for the funding of PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which was proposed by Former President Lyndon Johnson. The hearing took place on May 1, 1969. President Richard Nixon had wanted to cut the proposed funding to $10 million due to Vietnam War expenses and Fred Rogers, host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, appeared before the committee to argue for the full $20 million. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that Public Television provided. Pastore was not previously familiar with Rogers’ work and was sometimes described as a gruff and impatient man. However, he told Rogers that the testimony had given him goosebumps and after Rogers recited the lyrics to “What Do You Do with the Mad that You Feel?”, one of the songs from his show, Pastore finally declared, “I think it’s wonderful. I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” The following congressional appropriation, for 1971, increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.
Fiorello Enrico La Guardia
Fiorello Enrico La Guardia (December 11, 1882 – September 20, 1947) was the 99th Mayor of New York City for three terms from 1934 to 1945. Previously he had been elected to Congress in 1916 and 1918 and again from 1922 through 1930. Irascible, energetic and charismatic, he craved publicity and is acclaimed as one of the greatest mayors in American history. Only five feet tall, he was called “the Little Flower” (Fiorello is Italian for “little flower”).
LaGuardia, a Republican, appealed across party lines and was very popular in New York during the 1930s. As a New Dealer, he supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, and in turn Roosevelt heavily funded the city and cut off patronage from LaGuardia’s foes. La Guardia revitalized New York City and restored public faith in City Hall. He unified the transit system, directed the building of low-cost public housing, public playgrounds and parks, constructed airports, reorganized the police force, defeated the powerful Tammany Hall political machine and reestablished merit employment in place of patronage jobs. The former lawyer was a champion of labor unions and campaigned in English, Italian, Yiddish, German and Spanish.
LaGuardia was born in Greenwich Village in New York City to two Italian immigrant parents. His father, Achille La Guardia was from Cerignola and his mother, Irene Coen, was from Trieste. His maternal grandmother, Fiorina Luzzatto Coen, was a member of the prestigious Italian-Jewish family of scholars, kabbalists and poets and had among her ancestors, the famous Rabbi Samuel David Luzzatto. It was in Trieste that Achille La Guardia met and married Irene. The family moved to Arizona, where his Achille had a bandmaster position at Fort Whipple in the U.S. Army. LaGuardia attended public schools and high school in Prescott, Arizona.
After his father was discharged from his bandmaster position in 1898, Fiorello went to live in Trieste, where he joined the State Department and served in U.S. consulates in Budapest, Trieste (Austria-Hungary-now Italy) and Fiume (Austria-Hungary-now Rijeka,Croatia), (1901–1906). He returned to the United States to continue his education at New York University. In 1907–10, he worked for the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, as an interpreter for the U.S. Bureau of Immigration at the Ellis Island immigrant station in New Jersey. He graduated from New York University School of Law in 1910. He was admitted to the bar the same year and began a law practice in New York City.
LaGuardia married twice. His first wife was Thea Almerigotti, whom he married in 1919. In November 1920 they had a daughter, Fioretta Thea, who died May 8, 1921 of spinal meningitis. His wife died of tuberculosis six months later at the age of 26. He married Marie Fisher in 1929 and they adopted two children, Eric Henry and Jean Marie.
Valle D’Aosta’s Traditional Beef Stew
Carbonade is one of the classic Valdostan stews.
- 2 pounds lean beef, cubed
- 2 medium-sized onions
- A bay leaf
- A few cloves
- A pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
- A pinch of powdered cinnamon
- A pinch of sugar
- All-purpose flour
- Beef broth
- 2 cups full bodied dry red wine, ideally from Valle D’Aosta
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper
Marinate the beef in the wine for 4-6 hours (at the most, overnight), adding the bay leaf and spices to the wine. When it is time to prepare the recipe, remove the meat from the wine with a slotted spoon and pat the pieces dry. Reserve the wine mixture.
Flour the beef and brown the pieces in the butter in a Dutch Oven, taking them out of the pot with a slotted spoon and setting them aside as they brown.
Slice the onions into rounds and brown them in the same pot; add a ladle of broth and simmer until the broth has evaporated. Add the meat, salt to taste and a pinch of sugar.
Then add the reserved wine with the spices, bring it all to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook covered, adding more broth as necessary to keep it from drying out.
After about an hour, grind black pepper over the stew and serve it over polenta or boiled potatoes.
Geraldine Anne Ferraro
Geraldine Anne Ferraro (August 26, 1935 – March 26, 2011) was an American attorney, a Democratic Party politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives. She was the first female vice-presidential candidate, representing a major American political party. She was elected to the House in 1978, where she rose rapidly in the party hierarchy while focusing on legislation to bring equity for women in the areas of wages, pensions and retirement plans. In 1984, former vice-president and presidential candidate, Walter Mondale selected Ferraro to be his running mate in the upcoming election. In doing so, she became the only Italian American to be a major-party national nominee in addition to being the first woman. In the general election, Mondale and Ferraro were defeated in a landslide by incumbent President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush.
Ferraro was born in Newburgh, New York, the daughter of Antonetta L. Ferraro (née Corrieri), a first-generation Italian American seamstress and Dominick Ferraro, an Italian immigrant and owner of two restaurants. She had three brothers born before her, but one died in infancy and another at age three. Her father died of a heart attack in May 1944, when she was eight. Ferraro’s mother soon invested and lost the remainder of the family’s money, forcing the family to move to a low-income area in the South Bronx, while Ferraro’s mother worked in the garment industry to support them.
Ferraro attended Marymount Manhattan College with a scholarship, while sometimes holding two or three jobs at the same time. During her senior year she began dating John Zaccaro, who had graduated from Iona College with a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps. Ferraro received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1956 and she was the first woman in her family to gain a college degree. She also passed the city exam to become a licensed school teacher. Ferraro began working as an elementary school teacher in the public schools in Astoria, Queens
Dissatisfied with teaching, she decided to attend law school and earned a Juris Doctor degree with honors from Fordham University School of Law in 1960 going to classes at night, while continuing to work as a second-grade teacher during the day. Ferraro was one of only two women in her graduating class of 179 and she was admitted to the New York State Bar in March 1961.
Ferraro’s first full-time political job came in January 1974, when she was appointed Assistant District Attorney for Queens County, New York. At the time, women prosecutors in the city were uncommon. The following year, Ferraro was assigned to the new Special Victims Bureau, which prosecuted cases involving rape, child abuse, spouse abuse and domestic violence. She was named head of the unit in 1977 with two other assistant district attorneys assigned to her. In this role she became a strong advocate for abused children. Ferraro found the nature of the cases she dealt with debilitating, grew frustrated that she was unable to deal with the root causes and talked about running for legislative office. Ferraro ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 9th Congressional District in Queens in 1978 and captured the election in a contest in which dealing with crime was the major issue.
She became a protégé of House Speaker Tip O’Neill, established a rapport with other House Democratic leaders and rose rapidly in the party hierarchy. She was elected to be the Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus for 1981–1983 and again for 1983–1985. This entitled her to a seat on the influential Steering and Policy Committee and she was named to the powerful House Budget Committee. As Mondale’s vice-presidential candidate, Ferraro was the first woman to run on a major party national ticket in the U.S.and the first Italian American, her nomination at the 1984 Democratic National Convention was one of the most emotional moments of that gathering, with female delegates appearing joyous and proud at the historic occasion. In her acceptance speech, Ferraro said, “The daughter of an immigrant from Italy has been chosen to run for vice-president in the new land my father came to love.” Convention attendees were in tears during the speech, not just for its significance for women, but for all those who had immigrated to America.
Tuna, Pepper and Cannellini Bean Salad
- 5 oz lettuce, shredded
- 5 oz cooked cannellini beans
- 3 ½ oz yellow bell peppers, diced
- 1/2 lb fresh cooked tuna
- 2 tomatoes, cut in eighths
- Half a red onion, sliced thin
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
Arrange the cannelloni beans on the bed of lettuce. Next, add the tuna broken up into small pieces. Add the tomatoes, peppers and onion.
Mix together the salad ingredients with a dressing made from whisking together the lemon juice, oil, a pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper.
Anthony Joseph Celebrezze
Anthony Joseph Celebrezze, Sr. (born Antonio Giuseppe Cilibrizzi, September 4, 1910 – October 29, 1998) was an American politician in the Democratic Party, who served as the 49th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, as a cabinet member in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and as a U.S. appeals court judge. Celebrezze was born to Dorothy (née Marcogiuseppe) and Rocco Cilibrizzi in Anzi, a town in the region of Basilicata, Italy, one of thirteen children. The family moved to the United States when he was two years old and the surname was Americanized to “Celebrezze”. Having been a shepherd in Anzi, Rocco learned of work on the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad as a track laborer in Cleveland.
Like many of his generation, Celebrezze did odd jobs as a youngster, shining shoes and selling newspapers. He attended Cleveland Public Schools, graduating from Central High School and Fenn College (later renamed Cleveland State University). He graduated from John Carroll University in 1934, during which time he worked as a railroad laborer and freight truck driver, as well as a boxer to pay his way. He later attended Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, where he received a Bachelor of Law (LL.B.) in 1936. Celebrezze began working for the Ohio Unemployment Commission and in 1938 he passed the bar and entered the general practice of law. That same year, he married Anne M. Marco, a teacher in the Cleveland Public School system. With the on-set of World War II, Celebrezze enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Upon his discharge at the end of the war, he returned to private practice.
In 1950, Celebrezze ran for a seat in the Ohio State Senate and won. He served as an Ohio state senator from 1951 to 1953. In 1952, when Celebrezze sought re-election to the state senate, he ran into trouble when he crossed the Democratic party chairman Ray T. Miller, by supporting fellow Italian American Michael DiSalle for the U.S. Senate instead of James M. Carney. Celebrezze was, nevertheless, renominated by his party and won the general election. Ironically, he would face off against DiSalle six years later in his bid for the statehouse. In 1952, after continuing battles with the Democratic leadership in the Senate, Celebrezze resigned to run for Mayor of Cleveland. Celebrezze was the first foreign-born mayor and was elected an unprecedented five two-year terms as mayor, from 1953 to 1962. Celebrezze drove efforts to upgrade the city’s infrastructure, a massive $140 million urban-renewal program. Major portions of the rapid-transit system were constructed during this time, most notably the Red Line, which connected much of the city to the existing Blue and Green Lines. There was also extensive work done on the city’s freeway system, the Port of Cleveland and Burke Lakefront Airport. In 1961, President John Kennedy offered Celebrezze a lifetime appointment to a federal judgeship. Celebrezze turned it down to run for a record breaking fifth consecutive term as mayor, which he won by an unprecedented 73.8 percent, sweeping every one of the city’s thirty-three wards. During this period, Kennedy appointed him to the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and the Commission on the Status of Women. In 1962, he also was named the president of the U.S. Conferences of Mayors. In 1962, President Kennedy returned with an offer of a cabinet appointment and Celebrezze resigned as mayor On July 31, 1962, Celebrezze took the oath as the U.S. Secretary for Health, Education, and Welfare, which is now known as the Department of Health and Human Services. He would continue his service in the cabinet of President Lyndon Johnson following Kennedy’s death.
Living in Washington on a $25,000 salary apart from his family, Celebrezze asked Johnson to return to Cleveland. “We are going to lose the house in Cleveland if I continue to live here, Mr. President,” Celebrezze told Johnson. The President replied that Celebrezze was too honest for Washington because he was the first cabinet secretary “to go broke while working for the White House.” Celebrezze resigned as HEW Secretary on August 17, 1965. Two days later on August 19, Johnson appointed him to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit where he authored numerous distinguished opinions. He served as a federal appeals court judge until 1980, when he retired from active service on the bench and assumed senior status.
Mario Matthew Cuomo
Mario Matthew Cuomo, born June 15, 1932, is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party. He served as the Secretary of State of New York from 1975 to 1978, as the Lieutenant Governor of New York from 1979 to 1982 and as the 52nd Governor of New York for three terms, from 1983 to 1994. He was known for his liberal views and public speeches, particularly his keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. He was born in the Briarwood section of the New York City borough of Queens to a family of Italian origin. His father, Andrea Cuomo, was from Nocera Inferiore, Italy and his mother, Immacolata (née Giordano), was from Tramonti. The family owned a store in South Jamaica, Queens, in New York City. Cuomo attended public school and later earned his bachelor’s degree in 1953 and a law degree in 1956 from St. John’s University, graduating first in his class. He was sent to clerk for the Honorable Judge Adrian P. Burke of the New York Court of Appeals. Additionally, he was signed and played baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system until he was injured by a ball. Subsequently, he became a scout for the team.
He first became known in New York City in the late 1960s when he represented “The Corona Fighting 69″, a group of 69 homeowners from the Queens neighborhood of Corona, who were threatened with displacement by the city’s plan to build a new high school. He later represented another Queens residents group, the Kew Gardens-Forest Hills Committee. Cuomo became more well-known across and beyond New York City, when Mayor John Lindsay appointed him to conduct an inquiry and mediate a dispute over low-income public housing slated for the upper-middle-class neighborhood of Forest Hills.
In 1978 Cuomo easily won the primary for Lieutenant Governor and was elected in the general election. In 1982, Governor Carey declined to run for re-election and Cuomo declared his candidacy. Cuomo won the primary by ten points and faced Republican nominee businessman, Lewis Lehrman in the general election. With the recession aiding Democratic candidates, Cuomo beat Lehrman by 50.91% to 47.48%. Cuomo was re-elected in a landslide in 1986 against Republican nominee Andrew P. O’Rourke by 64.3% to 31.77%. During his 12 years in office, Gov. Cuomo pushed through landmark programs in criminal justice, education, the environment, health care, human rights, housing and health care that were national firsts.
Cuomo has been outspoken on what he perceives to be the unfair stereotyping of Italian Americans. He also opposed the move of the National Football League’s New York Giants and New York Jets to the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, choosing instead to attend the home games of the Buffalo Bills while serving as governor, referring to the Bills as “New York State’s only team.” Since 1996, Cuomo has served on the board of Medallion Financial Corp., a lender to purchasers of taxi medallions in leading cities across the U.S. Cuomo was the first guest on the long-running CNN talk show Larry King Live in 1985 and Neal Conan described Cuomo as both the most intelligent and wittiest politician he has ever interviewed.
Mozzarella in Carrozza
- 12 ounces fresh mozzarella
- 8 slices soft white bread, crusts removed
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Olive oil
Slice the mozzarella and divide among 4 slices of bread. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread.
Whisk the eggs with the milk in a shallow dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the flour in another shallow dish. Dust the sandwiches in the flour and then dip into the egg mixture.
Heat about 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add the sandwiches to the pan and fry on both sides until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. The mozzarella should be completely melted. Slice the sandwiches in half to make 2 triangles.
- Italian American Museum (jmbruno.wordpress.com)
- Italian American Culture – The Art Of Writing(jovinacooksitalian.com)