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Benito Umberto Napoleone Mussolini was born on July 29, 1883 in the small town of Breztini. His father, Umberto Mussolini (1853 - 1915) was an navy officer, and his mother, Bella Fettani (1865 - 1885) was a milanese showdancer. His mother died when he was young and since his father was a serving navy officer Benito was brought up by a nanny in central Milan. In 1899 Benito joined the fledgling Socialist Union of Italy, without the knowledge of his family. In 1900 Benito's education finished and he was enrolled in the navy academy at messina by his father (and against Benito's wishes).
In 1903 Mussolini ran away from the academy and moved to Nice in the French Empire. In 1904 he arrived in Paris and was impressed by the great pomp and ceremony of the imperial capital. However in late 1904 he ran out of money and was forced to get a job as a printers assistant. By December 1905 Benito had enough money to get a boat to America, and arrived in New York on February 15, 1906. He soon made links to the American Socialist Party and in April he founded the Italoamerican Socialist Union, by June it had 70 members and by September it had over 4000, making it a strong force in the Italian Community in New York. In April 1907 the Union had 10,000 members and was in control of many immigrant areas of New York, however rumours began to spread about Mussolini mishandling union funds. The rumours quickly spread and were proved to be true and Mussolini fled to Mexico, and then got a boat to Spain. He then travelled through France back to Italy and settled in Genoa.
In 1908 Mussolini put his revolutionary past behind him and became a teacher at a catholic school in Genoa. In 1910 he married his first wife, Maria de Castio (1887 - 1916) and had a child, Clara (1910 - 1999). In June 1914, with the outbreak of war, and Mussolini being a strong patriot, he volunteered for the army. He served in general Diaz's army and fought in the alpine campaign of 1914 - 15, he suffered minor wounds in March 1915 and was moved to guard duties in rome. He was there when Italy changed sides in late 1915. Mussolini personally thought that Italy should seek neutrality. In June 1916 Mussolini left the army and instead returned to his revolutionary ideas. This was largely due to his complete lack of faith in Italian politics. In 1917 he was arrested as a French agent (although in reality it was because of his politics) and sent to Genoa Prison, where he remained until November 1918. He was then released after a wrongful arrest and he returned to Genoa. It was during this time in Genoa that Mussolini founded fascism, a political philosophy based on corpotatism, a totalitarian state and strong leadership held within one man.
In May 1919, with the end of the war, Mussolini undertook a tour of Italy. He noticed that although Italy had been on the winning side in the war that many Italians still lived in poverty. In July 1919, in Rome, Mussolini founded the Italian National Fascist Union. The union quickly grew in numbers and by the end of the year it had over 18,000 members. The Union had its own para-military wing, the black guard, which Mussolini limited to 2000 members. In August Mussolini met his second wife, Arabella Chitti (1899 - 1946).