Most Americans are familiar with the cast of the American Revolution — John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Hancock. Some learned these names from history books, others from the fabulous musical 1776. Then came Hamilton and now Alexander Hamilton’s name will always be added to that list. But there was yet another man who did as much as all the others combined — and whose name has been lost. Until now.
Filippo Mazzei immigrated from Italy to England, where he met Benjamin Franklin over the purchase of an authentic Franklin stove. That chance encounter led Mazzei to the colonies. Intending to purchase a plantation in the southern part of Virginia for the cultivation of a vineyard, plans changed when his traveling party stopped for dinner at Monticello and he met Thomas Jefferson. Soon, Mazzei was buying the plantation next door and agitating for American freedom through the writing of pamphlets sympathetic to the colonists who wanted to break away from England. Along with his other soon-to-be-famous neighbors – James Madison and James Monroe – Mazzei joined the local militia by day and joined Jefferson at night to write essays advocating for the break away from England.
Among his achievements Mazzei is now credited with coining the phrase “All Men are Created Equal”, which Jefferson found so inspiring he added it to his Declaration of Independence. Over 200 years later a Joint Resolution of the 103rd Congress in October 1994 clarified: “the phrase in the Declaration of Independence ‘All men are created equal’, was suggested by the Italian patriot and immigrant Philip Mazzei.”
As the Revolutionary War waged on, Jefferson and other Virginia Founding Fathers asked Mazzei to return to Europe and solicit funds, weapons and other support from the leading countries of Europe, which he gladly did, though it separated him from the beloved country he had adopted. As an activity for your 4th this year,