Francesco Nitti

Francesco Nitti

Francesco Nitti was born in Italy in 1868. Nitti became professor of economics at the University of Naples and entered parliament in 1904.

Nitti, a radical, was appointed by Giovanni Giolitti as minister of agriculture in 1911. Nitti advocated support of the Allies and resigned on the outbreak of the First World War.

In October, 1917 Vittorio Orlando appointed Nitti as minister of finance. Over the next two years he established central control over raw materials and manufactured goods. In 1918 he used his good contacts in the United States to obtain Anglo-American financial credits, food and coal for Italy.

Nitti was critical of Italian plans for colonial expansion and resigned in protest in January 1919. He became prime minister in June 1919 but attacked by the far right for his foreign policy he was forced to resign in 1920.

A strong opponent of Benito Mussolini, Nitti was forced to live in exile in 1929. Nitti returned to Italy after the Second World War.

Francesco Nitti died in 1953.

Primary Sources

(1) Francesco Nitti, speech (1929)

The ignoble phenomenon of a dictatorship is a shameful blot on European civilization. Reactionary minds, which are indignant at red dictatorships, have only sympathy with 'white' dictatorships, which are equally, if not more bloodthirsty, no less brutal and unjustified by any ideal, even a false one.

The Fascist government abolished in Italy every safeguard of the individual and every liberty. No free man can live in Italy, and an immoral law prevents Italians from going to a foreign country on pain of punishment. Italy is a prison where life has become intolerable. Everything is artificial - artificial finance - artificial exchange - artificial public economy - artificial order - artificial calm.

Without a free parliament, a free press, a free opinion and a true democracy, there will never be peace.