Tadeusz Kościuszko

Thanks to Alan Mason for suggesting this post.


Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kościuszko); 1746–1817) is a national hero of Poland, Belarus, Lithuania and the United States who fought in the Polish uprising against Russia and in the American Revolution. He was a firm believer in human rights and was a friend and admirer of Thomas Jefferson, with whom he shared the enlightenment ideals of inalienable human rights. He led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia as Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces.

Kościuszko was born in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in a village located in present-day Belarus. His exact birth date is not known, with either February 4 or February 12 being used. He graduated from the Corps of Cadets School in Warsaw. Kościuszko moved to France during the outbreak of a civil war in Poland to pursue further studies. He returned to Poland in 1774, two years after the First Partition of Poland, and took a position as a private tutor. He left for France again due to financial difficulties. Upon learning of the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War while in France, Kościuszko moved to the United States in 1776 and participated in the fighting as a colonel in the Continental Army. While in New York he helped design and supervised the construction of the garrisons at West Point, New York. In 1783, in recognition of his dedicated service, he was brevetted by the Continental Congress to the rank of brigadier general. Kościuszko was also an accomplished architect and artist; his portraits included one of his friend Thomas Jefferson.

Kosciuszko bank note

Following his return to Poland in 1784, Kościuszko became a major general of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s Army. Two years after the Polish–Russian War of 1792 resulted in the Second Partition of Poland, Kościuszko organized an uprising against the Russians serving as Naczelnik. He was captured by Russian forces at the Battle of Maciejowice. The defeat of the uprising resulted in the Third Partition of Poland, which ended the existence of the country as an independent state.

In 1796, Kościuszko was pardoned by Tsar Paul I of Russia and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, he collected his back pay and entrusted it to his friend Thomas Jefferson in his will, directing him to spend the money on freeing and educating black American slaves, including Jefferson’s slaves. Jefferson never carried out the request; he has been criticized for avoiding the chance to free his slaves. Kościuszko eventually returned to Europe and lived in Switzerland until his death in 1817. The money in his trust in the US was finally returned by the US Supreme Court in the 1850s to his heirs in Europe.


The tallest mountain of Australia, Mount Kosciuszko

Polish historian Stanisław Herbst in the 1967 Polish Biographical Dictionary noted that Kościuszko might be the most popular Pole ever in Poland and beyond. A number of monuments have been built around the world to honor him, starting with the Kościuszko Mound built in Kraków in the years 1820–1823. Monuments to Kościuszko are found in Poland in Kraków (designed by Leandro Marconi) and in Łódź (designed by Mieczysław Lubelski). There are statues to Kościuszko in Philadelphia (by Marian Konieczny), Detroit (copy of work by Leonard Marconi), Washington, Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland in the USA and in Solura in Switzerland. The tallest mountain of Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, is named after him; in the United States there is an island (Kosciusko Island in Alaska), a county (Kosciusko County, Indiana) and several settlements named after him (such as the town of Kosciusko, Mississippi). A Polish American cultural Kosciuszko Foundation has been created in his memory. A Kościuszko Museum is located in Solura, Switzerland. He was also the patron of the Polish 1st Tadeusz Kościuszko Infantry Division in World War II.

Edited from Tadeusz Kościuszko

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