August 29 in Russian history

1862: Giuseppe Garibaldi was wounded and arrested during the battle of Aspromonte in Calabria. The French and Italian doctors could not find the bullet in the body of Garibaldi and then he asked to invite Russian surgeon Nikolay Pirogov. Pirogov extracted the bullet and saved Garibaldi's leg from amputation. Mass protests around the world forced the authorities of Sardinia to amnesty Garibaldi and to sent hime to exile to Caprera island. From Caprera, Garibaldi wrote to Pirogov: "Dear doctor Pirogov! My wound has almost healed and I feel I have to thank you for the your hearty care you have shown me so generously. I assure of my fidelity. Your Giuseppe Garibaldi."

This surgery was not the only link between Pirogov and Garibaldi. In 1856, Pirogov was appointed the head of the Novorossiysk school district and then in Kiev, and began to introduce novelties, some of which were frowned upon by the czar government. So, he introduced facultative courses and allowed the students to choose which courses to take. He promoted the autonomy of universities and protected them from the police interference. But the most imporant undertaking were the evening schools for commoners. The church schools gave only the most basic education. When inspecting schools, Pirogov noticed the evening schools introduced by some of landlords in Ukraine and Moldova, where peasants studied the theory of agriculture. Probably, such schools became the source for Pirogov's ideas. The notion was revolutionary and the Russian society was inspired by the prospectives. Teachers came to such schools and taught for free. Some of them used the schools for political propaganda, but even as sources of pure knowledge, the schools were seen as dangerous by the authorities. Writing and reading in both Russian and national languages were very popular and Taras Shevchenko, a Ukrainian poet, wrote an ABC for such schools. After the Polish rebellion (1863-64), Russian government prohibited book printing in Ukrainian language.

Now, back to Garibaldi. When liberating and uniting Italy, he organized schools in every city -- day schools for children and evening schools for working adults. Could he know about Pirogov's schools? Quite probably. Among his volunteers there were many Russians, like colonel Dietmar, journalist Berg and Lev Mechnikov, brother of Ilya Mechnikov. Ilya Mechnikov, like Pirogov, was a physician and biologist. Moreover, he was a professor in the Novorossiysk university and he definitely knew Nikolay Pirogov and his inititiatives. In Italy, Lev Mechnikov worked in Garibaldi's headquarters and it seems very probable that the Italian liberator got the idea of evening schools from the Russian volunteer.

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