Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Times of the Sicilian Robin Hood


[Translator's summary of a letter to the President, dated 5/12/47.  Name and address of writer:  (Mr.) Salvatore Giuliano, Montelepre (Palermo) Sicily]

The writer is the present leader of an anti-Communist guerrilla group in Sicily and also the sponsor of an annexationist movement which advocates the separation of the Island of Sicily from the Italian Republic and its annexation to the United States.  He states that the newspapers variously picture him either as a legendary hero or else as a common bandit.  His only sin, he declares is the annihilation of Communism in Sicily and the admission of that Island as the 49th State of the American Union.  He respectfully offers his services to the President for the achievement of both purposes and requests the Chief Executive's moral support to that end.  He also respectfully requests acknowledgement of the present communication. 

(Harry S. Truman Library archives)

Giuliano packed so much into seven short years that it is easy to forget how young he was.  At first glance, Giuliano's letter to President Truman is, if not audacious, certainly presumptuous.  But we must remember that we are considering a very young man of only twenty-five.

President Truman
President Truman

Such young men, particularly bold Sicilians, are idealistic.  Giuliano was indeed bold, as well and charismatic and ruthless.  But he was also, in his own mind, a patriot and a lover of giustizia (justice).  Nothing would appeal to him more than the growing separatist movement, the separation of Sicily from the parasitic clutches of the central Italian government in Rome.

The Movement for the Annexation of Sicily to the American Confederation (MASCA) had been growing in one form or another almost from the establishment of the Italian Republic in 1946.  MASCA was Giuliano's contribution to the Separatist Movement, with himself as its leader.  The mafia supported the idea of separation initially, as did much of the peasantry of western Sicily.  While the MASCA did not gain seats in the National Parliament in the elections of 1946 and 1947, the Separatist Party was demonstrating strength in Palermo and the countryside west of it.  If the mafia had not decided to throw in its lot with the Christian Democrats (whom they felt they could control and eventually did, right up to the prime minister), the movement might have grown into a formidable political party.

Despite the decline of the MASCA in particular and the Separatist Movement in general, and the victories of the Christian Democrats, Giuliano was undeterred.  He created a famous poster which illustrated the severing of the chains that bound Sicily to Italy, with a cartoon of himself attaching the island to the United States. 

Giuliano's cartoon
Giuliano's cartoon

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