Benito Mussolini

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Benito Mussolini

(1883-1945)

Benito Mussolini was the fascist dictator of Italy for nearly 20 years. Benito was born at Dovia, a suburb of Predappio, in the northcentral part of Italy. His father, Alessando, was a blacksmith. And his mother, Rosa, was a schoolteacher. As a young man, Mussolini was a Socialist with revolutionary tendencies. He was expelled from 2 schools and later was in trouble with the authorities several times. In 1912 he became editor of the Socialist newspaper Avanti, and in 1914 he started his own Socialist newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia. At this time he wrote a novel, then translated into English as the Cardinal's Mistress. During World War I he served for nearly 2 years as private in the infantry.

After the war there was much poverty and industrial unrest in Italy. Mussolini's political views were changing during this time. The desire grew in him to be the strong man of Italy who would vesture order, rule as a dictator, and lead his country to national greatness. To achieve his dream, he formed the Fascist party, known as the Blackshirts, of whom he was the recognized leader. In the beginning it was composed mainly of ex-serviceman, the Fascists restored order in Italy by force, breaking up the Socialist and Communist organizations of the workers. Guided by Mussolini, they aimed to seize power and bring to an end to parliamentary democracy, which they most wanted to.

When the Fascists marched on Rome in 1922, King Victor Emmanuel III decided to hand over the government to them. Mussolini was selected Prime Minister. For three years he was head of a coalition government, but in 1925 he took the powers of government into his own hands. He forbade all political opposition and all criticism in the press, and Mussolini ruled Italy as dictator.

In the early years of his rule Mussolini carried out some useful reforms. He drained marshes and established farms on the reclaimed land. He carried out the...
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