Professor Mezzeroff, a.k.a. Richard Rogers

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Features, General, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2008), Volume 16

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa—according to the Washington Post, full ‘of many words and few deeds’. Mezzeroff, by contrast, was ‘to be more feared than a dozen Rossas’. (National Library of Ireland)

Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa—according to the Washington Post, full ‘of many words and few deeds’. Mezzeroff, by contrast, was ‘to be more feared than a dozen Rossas’. (National Library of Ireland)

Professor Mezzeroff traded as a scientist associated with Russian nihilism and as a teacher of ‘the arts of scientific warfare’ to revolutionary movements. He lectured to groups of Cuban nationalists in New York and boasted that he had taught the ‘doctrine of dynamite’ to Gambetta. His true identity was never clear, and local reporters often called him by the much plainer-sounding moniker Richard Rogers. Although claiming to be a Russian nihilist, Mezzeroff was almost certainly a New York native, born to a Russian father and a Scottish mother, and had no real links to Russian revolutionary move-ments. While he lectured to nationalists in the evenings, by day he worked as a liquor dealer on 13th Street in Manhattan.

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