Santangelo, Orazio de Attellis (1774–1850)

By: Luciano G. Rusich

Type: Biography

Published: July 1, 1995

Updated: February 16, 2019

Orazio [Donato Gideon] de Attellis Santangelo, Italian-American patriot, soldier, and political journalist, last scion of a noble family, was born at Sant'Angelo Limosani, Molise, Italy, on October 22, 1774, the second son of Marquis Francesco de Attellis and Countess Dorotea D'Auria. Upon the death of his older brother, Giuseppe, he inherited the title of Marquis of Sant'Angelo. An ardent Jacobin, he fought in Napoleon's Italian campaigns, in the army of the Cisalpine Republic, and in the Russian campaign in the army of King Joachim Murat, who appointed him adjutant general. After the restoration of the Bourbons to the throne of Naples, he resigned his commission. In 1824 he fled to the United States to escape arrest for having actively participated in the constitutional uprisings that took place in Naples in 1820 and in Spain in 1823. In New York he declared his intention to become a United States citizen, renounced his title, and assumed the name of Orazio de Attellis Santangelo in 1824. In 1825 he went to Mexico, where he was expelled in 1826 for having criticized the administration of President Guadalupe Victoria in his book Las cuatro primeras discusiones del Congreso de Panamá, tales como debieran ser (1826). He returned to New York, became an American citizen in 1828, opened a boarding school for young ladies on Broadway, and lectured at Columbia College. In 1833 he returned to Mexico and in 1835 began publishing his own newspaper, El Correo Atlántico. He was expelled from Mexico for the second time because of his defense of the Texas colonists and moved to New Orleans. There he resumed publication of the Correo supporting the cause of Texas independence. In 1843 he went back to New York, where the 1844 presidential elections found him campaigning in favor of Henry Clay. In his campaign writings, Santangelo advocated a strong defensive and offensive alliance between the United States and the Republic of Texas rather than annexation. Annexation, in his opinion, would lead to a war with Mexico and to an expansion of slavery that ultimately would foment a civil war and the dissolution of the Union. In 1847 he left the United States to return to Italy. There, in Genoa and Leghorn, he participated in the 1848–49 popular insurrections in favor of Italian unity and independence. In Rome he offered his services to the short-lived Roman Republic, but Giuseppe Mazzini turned him down. Santangelo was also the author of The Texas Question, Reviewed by an Adopted Citizen (New York, 1844) and a number of other political works. At Civitavecchia, on his way to the United States, he died of overexertion, on January 10, 1850.

Charles Adams Gulick, Jr., Harriet Smither, et al., eds., The Papers of Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar (6 vols., Austin: Texas State Library, 1920–27; rpt., Austin: Pemberton Press, 1968). Luciano G. Rusich, "Marquis of Sant'Angelo, Italian-American Patriot and Friend to Texas," Italian Americana 5 (Fall-Winter 1979). Luciano G. Rusich, Un Carbonaro Molisano nei due mondi (Naples: Glaux, 1982).

  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Publishers and Executives
  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Italians
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Authors and Writers
  • Military
  • Soldiers

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Luciano G. Rusich, “Santangelo, Orazio de Attellis,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995
February 16, 2019

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