Charles Poletti



A lawyer and politician lent to the war, Aldo Charles Poletti managed the Allied military government in occupied Italy, building an unprecedented political-military laboratory that provided a model for subsequent occupation experiences.

Charles Poletti was born in Barre, Vermont, USA on 2 July 1903 to a family of Piedmontese descent. After completing his law studies at Harvard Law School in 1928 and some periods of further education in Rome and Madrid, he embarked on a career as a lawyer. This led him to various prestigious positions; he first became Advisor to New York State Governor Herbert Lehman, then Judge of the New York Supreme Court between 1937 and 1938. 

From that position, he launched himself into the political arena and was elected in 1939 to the office of New York's Lieutenant Governor from the ranks of the Democratic Party. In December 1942, following Lehman's resignation, Poletti found himself in office for only four weeks, becoming the first person of Italian descent to become governor of a State in the USA, but also the one with the shortest term in New York's history. 

Once this brief government experience was over, Poletti was appointed by the Roosevelt administration to the position of Special Assistant to the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, which he also only briefly held between January and March 1943. In preparation for the Allied landing in Sicily, Poletti joined the expedition with the rank of lieutenant colonel and with the aim of acting, thanks to his status as a first-generation Italian-American, as a mediator with Sicilian society. In fact, his Italian origins convinced President Roosevelt to send him, initially, to Italy in the role of Senior Civil Affairs Officer with the US Army's Seventh Army. There he was put in charge of the nascent Allied Military Government in charge of re-establishing the structures necessary for the administration of occupied territory, first in Sicily and then in the Italian regions that fell under Allied military control.   

Having archived his Italian experience with the end of the war in 1945, Poletti returned to the legal profession by becoming a partner in a firm in New York City. He also held numerous other positions, including chairmanship of the New York State Power Authority (1955 to 1969) and management of foreign exhibits at the 1964 New York World Fair (1960 to 1965). He died in Florida in 2002 at the age of 99.