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Sons of Italy® Supports Proposed Legislation To Recognize Meucci

Press Contact: Diane Crespy, 202-547-2900

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2002 - The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation's largest and longest existing organization representing men and women of Italian heritage, is strongly supporting a bill currently before Congress that recognizes the achievements of Antonio Meucci, regarded by a growing number of historians as the true inventor of the telephone.

The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Vito Fossella, Jr. (R-N.Y.) late last year.

"[This bill] is important to the Italian-American community and to the history of America because it rightly acknowledges Meucci's invention of the telephone, a fact that is often forgotten in history lessons. We strongly support the passing of this resolution" wrote OSIA National President Robert A. Messa in a letter to Fossella dated Jan. 23.

In October 2001, the House of Representatives passed the Sense of Congress Resolution 269, sponsored by Fossella chronicling Meucci's efforts to patent his invention. A Sense of Congress Resolution expresses a congressional opinion, but carries no legal authority.

Meucci (1808-1889), who was born near Florence, came to New York City in 1850 and settled on Staten Island where he supported his family by making candles and other projects. In 1857 he finalized plans for an invention he called a teletrofono that would carry the human voice great distances.

Unable to pay the patent fees and in poor health, he was forced to abandon the project, which Alexander Graham Bell was given credit for nearly 20 years later in 1876. A subsequent lawsuit against Bell revealed that he had worked in the same laboratory at Western Union Telegraph Company that had a model of Meucci's invention and its designs.

OSIA owns and operates the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum in the inventor's former home on Staten Island, where Meucci's friend Italian patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi lived from 1850 to 1854. The OSIA Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is one of only two ethnic museums in the United States that are designated national historic sites.

OSIA urges all members and supporters to contact their members of Congress, asking for support of House Resolution 269 recognizing Meucci's contributions. To o find out the name, address, and telephone number of your congressional representative, call Capitol Hill at (202) 224-3121 or visit the Legislative & Policy Issues section of at A sample letter of support is also included on the site.

Established in 1905 in Little Italy, N.Y., OSIA now has more than 700 chapter in 35 states and the District of Columbia, and an estimated 575,000 members and supporters in all 50 states and two U.S. territories. To learn more about OSIA, visit us on the Web at or contact us via e-mail at