The Roman population agreed. The lire fell in value, but the stock market improved. The Eternal City was swept by a holiday mood, with flag-armed crowds demonstrating their approval in front of the Quirinale and all florist shops quickly selling out their wares. Martial law was not declared, and Fascism was seen by most as the last resort to the feared alternative of anarchy and Red revolution, although there was, indeed, no such latter threat at all.
Benito Mussolini, the blacksmith’s son from the village of Forli, had been brought to office by the successive failure of several Liberal governments, a general apathy to politics, and the fear of high taxes and social reform on the part of the landed gentry that financed the Fascist Party.
The new first lady of Fascist Italy later told a story about an early visitor to her now famous husband: a Carabinieri sergeant who had brought a truncheon. He wanted to beg the Duce’s forgiveness for having arrested him during a demonstration in Forli and to offer him the truncheon he had whacked him with.
“I forgave him—and took the truncheon,” Mussolini had said, ”philosophically.”
This article by Blaine Taylor originally appeared on Warfare History Network.
Image: Wikimedia Commons