The unification of Italy in 1861 launched a new European nation promising to fulfill the dreams of Italians, yet millions of poor peasants still found themselves in economic desperation. By 1872, an army of speculators had invaded the countryside, hawking steamship tickets and promising fabulous riches in America. Thousands of immigrants fled to the New World, only to be abandoned upon arrival and forced to find work in hard labor. New York placed victims of deception at the State Emigrant Refuge on Ward’s Island as the secretary of state and the Italian prime minister sought to intervene. Through steel-eyed determination, many surmounted their status and became leaders in business and culture. Authors Joe Tucciarone and Ben Lariccia follow the early stages of mass Italian immigration and the fraudulent circumstances that brought them to New York Harbor.
Joe Tucciarone was born in Youngstown, Ohio. His astronomical animations have appeared in dozens of Discovery and National Geographic Channel documentaries, and he has illustrated the covers of several books, including When the Sun Dies and Night Comes to the Cretaceous. Joe’s article The First Italians in Trumbull County, Ohio was published in La Gazzetta Italiana.
Ben Lariccia, a native of Youngstown, writes on Italian American history and is a contributing writer at La Gazzetta Italiana. His work is also published in print and online by the Italian group Amici di Capracotta. He is a member of the America-Italy Society of Philadelphia and the Italian American Studies Association. In 2019, The History Press released Joe and Ben’s Coal War in the Mahoning Valley: The Origin of Greater Youngstown’s Italians.