In the years between 1850 and 1870, nationalism was evolving from the ideals of earlier decades to realities of power politics. No political force was stronger than nationalism after 1850. Threatening to destroy the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. Also pushing people toward national unity in Italy and Germany. The new generation of leaders molded nationalism to fit harsh political realities. Cavour had become committed to Italian unification. .
After becoming prime minister, Cavour had three goals. The first one was modernize Piedmont economically. Second goal was to make Piedmont the central leader for the advancement of national unification. Third, he advocated forming a new Italian state as a constitutional monarchy under Piedmont's king. To reach his goals Cavour had to get the funds, which lead him to lower tariffs, build railroads, and balance the Piedmont budget. Cavour used the Crimean War in 1854 between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, as the perfect opportunity to get closer with Great Britain and France. At the Paris Peace Conference in 1856 ended the war of Crimean. .
Later, Napoleon III and Cavour met to discuss war tactics on Austria. So that the Piedmont Empire could acquire Lombardy and Venetia as its' own from the Austrians. In 1859, Austrians declare war on Piedmont. Since Cavour built new railroad lines, the French troops poured across the Alps. After the bloody battles of Magenta and Solferino, Austria gave Piedmont Lombardy and kept Venetia within Austrian power. Most of northern and central Italy joined Piedmont willingly in 1860. At this point, nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi had many failed attempts to create unified and republican Italy. .
In May 1860, Garibaldi and thousands of others dressed in red shirts, sailed to Sicily to accompany the many peasants that already started a revolt. After that victory Garibaldi moved toward Rome. In September 1860, Cavour sent troops to gain control over the Papal States.