Infobox Military Person
February 4, 1746
Mereszowszczyzna, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
October 15, 1817
units=head engineer of the
Continental Army, 3rd Infantry Division, Naczelnikof the Polish Army
American Revolutionary War, Polish-Russian War of 1792, Kościuszko Uprising
portrayedby=Tadeusz Białoszczyński, Sykstus Lewicki,
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko ( Audio-IPA-pl|Kosciuszko.ogg|t|a|'|d|e|u|sz|-|k|o|ś|'|ci|u|sz|k|o; 1746 – 1817) was a Polish and American national hero and general. He led the
Kościuszko Uprising(1794) against Imperial Russia.
Prior to leading the 1794 Uprising, he had fought in the
American Revolutionary Waras a Colonelin the Continental Army. In 1783, in recognition of his dedicated service, he had been brevetted by the Continental Congressto the rank of Brigadier General, and that same year he had become a naturalized citizen of the United States.
There are several Anglicized spellings for his name, the most frequently-used being Thaddeus Kosciusko, though the full "Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kosciusko" also appears in some texts. In Lithuanian, his name is spelled "Tadas Kosciuška" or "Tadeušas Kosciuška". In Belarusian, it is "Тадэвуш Касцюшка" (Tadevuš Kaściuška).
Tadeusz Kościuszko was born
February 4, 1746, in the villageof Mereczowszczyzna (now Kosava, Belarus), in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a federated part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, to the noble (" szlachta") family of Ludwik Tadeusz Kościuszkoand Tekla, " née" Ratomska. His family's ancestor was a certain Konstanty, a courtierof Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Sigismund I who in 1509 had been granted the village of Sihnievičy(Siechnowicze), was ennobled and received the Roch III Coat of Arms. By the time Tadeusz was born, however, the family had fallen upon hard times and the village with its small manor was their only property.In 1755 Tadeusz and his elder brother Józef began their educations in a Piaristschool in Lubieszów. After five years, in 1760, both were forced to return home due to family problems. Józef was chosen to inherit the family's property and Tadeusz decided to embark upon a military career.
In 1765 King Stanisław II August created the "
Szkoła Rycerska", a schoolthat was to educate a cadre of well-educated officers and state officials. On December 18, 1765, Tadeusz Kościuszko entered the newly-formed school, becoming a member of the "Corps of Cadets". Apart from strictly military-related subjects, he also studied the history of Poland, world history, philosophy, Latin, the Polish, German and French languages, and law, economics, geography, arithmetic, geometryand engineering. Upon graduation he was promoted to captain.
In 1769 Kościuszko and his colleague Orłowski were granted a royal scholarship and on
October 5they set off for Paris. There Kościuszko briefly studied in the Academy of Fine Arts, but soon realized that the career of a painter was not what he dreamed of. As a foreigner he could not apply for any of the French military academies, and he lacked the funds to study engineering. For five years, however, Kościuszko educated himself as an extern, frequenting lectures and the libraries of the Paris military academies. His stay in pre-revolutionary France had a tremendous influence on his later political views.
Back in Poland
After the first partition of Poland-Lithuania the neighbouring countries of Russia,
Prussiaand Austriaannexed a large part of the Polish-Lithuanian territory and secured their influence on the internal politics of Poland and Lithuania. The country was forced to reduce the Polish Armyto 10,000 soldiers and when Kościuszko finally returned home in 1774, there was no place for him in the armed forces. His difficult economic situation also prevented him from getting married and in the autumn of 1775 Kościuszko decided to emigrate.
In late 1775 Kościuszko arrived in
Dresden, where he wanted to join either the Saxon court or the elector's army. However, he was refused and decided to travel back to Paris. There he was informed of the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, in which the former British colonies in North America revolted against the crown and started the fight for independence. The first American successes were well publicised in France and the cause of the revolutionaries was openly supported by the French people, whose government also supported the Americans.
Kościuszko was recruited in France by
Silas Deaneand Benjamin Franklin, and in August 1776 he arrived in America. He initially served as a volunteer, but on October 18, 1776, Congress commissioned him a Colonel of Engineers in the Continental Army. At the recommendation of Prince Adam Kazimierz Czartoryskiand General Charles Lee, Kościuszko was named head engineer of the Continental Army.He was sent to Pennsylvaniafor his work with the Continental Army. Shortly after arriving, he read the United States Declaration of Independence. Kościuszko was moved by the document because it encompassed everything in which he believed; he was so moved, in fact, that he decided to meet Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration.Fact|date=January 2008 The two met in Virginiaa few months later. After spending the day discussing philosophy, and other things they shared in common, they became very close friends. Kościuszko was a guest at Monticelloon many occasions, and spent prolonged visits there.
Kościuszko's first task in America was the fortification of
Philadelphia. His first structure was the construction of Fort Billingsport.cite news | first= Edward | last= Colimore | url= http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_region/20071210_Fighting_to_save_remains_of_a_fort.html | title= Fighting to save remains of a fort | work= Philadelphia Inquirer| date= December 10, 2007] On September 24, 1776, Kościuszko was ordered to fortify the banks of the Delaware Riveragainst a possible British crossing. In the spring of 1777 he was attached to the Northern Army under General Horatio Gates. As the chief engineer of the army he commanded the construction of several forts and fortified military camps along the Canadian border. His work made significant contributions to the American successful retreat from the battle of Ticonderoga and victory at Saratoga in 1777.
After the battle, Kościuszko, then regarded as one of the best engineers in American service, was put in charge by
George Washingtonof military engineering works at the stronghold in West Point on the Hudson River. Then he asked to be transferred to the Southern Army, where he also made significant contributions to the American victories.
After seven years of service, on
October 13, 1783, Kościuszko was promoted by Congress to the rank of brigadier general. He was also granted American citizenship, 2.5 square kilometers of land in America, and a large sum of money. He used the money to help some black slaves gain their freedom. He was also admitted to the prestigious Society of the Cincinnatiand to the American Philosophical Society.
In July 1784 Kościuszko set off for Poland, where he arrived on
August 12. He settled in his home village of Siechnowicze. The property, administered by Tadeusz's brother-in-law, brought small yet stable profits and Kościuszko decided to limit the " corvee" of his serfs to two days a week, while completely freeing all female serfs. This move was seen by the local " szlachta" as a sign of dangerous liberalismof Kościuszko.
By that time the internal situation in Poland changed rapidly. A strong yet still informal group of politicians underlined the need of reforms and strengthening of the state. Notable political writers like
Stanisław Staszicand Hugo Kołłątajpromoted the ideas of granting the serfs and the burghers more rights and strengthening the central authorities. These ideas were supported by a large part of the szlachta, who also wanted to overthrow the foreign dictate and meddling in Poland's internal affairs.
Sejm Wielkiof 1788–1792 started the necessary reforms. One of the first acts of the new parliament assumed the creation of a 100,000 men strong army to defend the borders of Poland against her aggressive neighbours. Kościuszko saw it as a chance to return to military service and serve his country in the field he had the most experience. He applied for the army and on October 12, 1789, received the royal nomination to Major General. As such he also started receiving a high salary of 12,000 złotys a year, which ended his financial difficulties.
The internal situation in Poland and the reforms of the
May Constitution of Poland, the first constitution written in the modern era in Europeand second in the world after the American, were seen by the surrounding powers as a threat to their influence over Polish politics. On May 14, 1792, the conservative magnates created the Confederation of Targowica, which asked the Russian empress Catherine II for help in overthrowing the constitution. On May 18, 1792a Russian army of 100,000 crossed the Polish border and headed for Warsaw, thus starting the War in Defence of the Constitution.
Defense of Constitution
Although the plan to create a 100,000-man Polish Army was not accomplished due to economic problems, the Polish Army was well-trained and prepared for war.
Before the Russians invaded Poland, Kościuszko was appointed deputy commander of Prince
Józef Poniatowski's 3rd Crown Infantry Division. When the Prince became Commander in Chiefof the entire Polish Army in May 1792, Kościuszko automatically assumed command of the Division.
Prussia's betrayal of her Polish ally, the Army of Lithuania did not oppose the advancing Russians. The Polish Army was too weak to oppose the enemy advancing into Ukraineand withdrew to the western side of the Bug River, where it regrouped and counterattacked. Victorious in the Battle of Zieleńce( June 18, 1792), Kościuszko was among the first to receive the newly-created Virtuti Militarimedal, Poland's highest military decoration even today.
In the ensuing Battles of Włodzimierz (
July 17, 1792) and Dubienka ( July 18) Kościuszko repulsed the numerically superior enemy and came to be regarded as one of Poland's most brilliant military commanders of the time. On August 1, 1792, King Stanisław August promoted him to Lieutenant General. But before the nomination arrived at Kościuszko's camp in Sieciechów, the King had joined the ranks of the Targowica Confederationand surrendered to the Russians.
The capitulation of the king was a hard blow for Kościuszko, who had not lost a single battle in the campaign. Together with many other notable Polish commanders and politicians he fled to
Dresdenand then to Leipzig, where the emigrants started preparing an uprising against Russian rule in Poland. The politicians, grouped around Ignacy Potockiand Hugo Kołłątaj, sought contacts with similar groups of opposition formed in Poland and by spring 1793 were joined by other politicians and revolutionaries, among them Ignacy Działyńskiand Karol Prozor.
August 26, 1792, the French Legislative Assembly awarded Kościuszko with honorary citizenship of France in honour of his fight for freedom of his fatherland and the ideas of equality and liberty. After two weeks in Leipzig, Kościuszko set off for Paris, where he tried to gain French support of the planned uprising in Poland.
January 13, 1793, Prussiaand Russia signed the Second Partition of Poland, which was ratified by the Sejm of Grodnoon June 17. Such an outcome was a giant blow for the members of Targowica Confederationwho saw their actions as a defence of centuries-old privileges of the magnates, but now were regarded by the majority of the Polish population as traitors. After the partition Poland became a small country of roughly 200,000 square kilometres and a population of approximately 4 million. The economy was ruined and the support for the cause of an uprising grew significantly, especially since there was no serious opposition to the idea after the Targowica Confederation was discredited.
In June of 1793 Kościuszko prepared a plan of an all-national uprising, mobilisation of all the forces and a war against Russia. The preparations in Poland were slow and he decided to postpone the outbreak. However, the situation in Poland was changing rapidly. The Russian and Prussian governments forced Poland to again disband the majority of her armed forces and the reduced units were to be drafted to the Russian army. Also, in March the tsarist agents discovered the group of the revolutionaries in Warsaw and started arresting notable Polish politicians and military commanders. Kościuszko was forced to execute his plan earlier than planned and on
March 15 1794he set off for Kraków.
During the Uprising, Kościuszko was made "
Naczelnik" (Commander-in-Chief) of all Polish-Lithuanian forces fighting against Russian occupation, and issued the famous Proclamation of Połaniec. After initial successes following the Battle of Racławice, he was wounded in the Battle of Maciejowiceand taken prisoner by the Russians, who imprisoned him in Saint Petersburg- Kościuszko was held at Prince's OrlovMarble Palace. The Uprising ended soon afterwards with the Siege of Warsaw.
Paul I of Russiapardoned Kościuszko and set him free. In exchange for his oath of loyalty, Paul I also freed some 20,000 Polish political prisoners still held in Russian prisons and forcibly settled in Siberia. Paul I granted Kościuszko 12000 roubles, which Polish leader later tried to return, but was refused as "money from traitor" in 1798. Kościuszko emigrated to the United States, but the following year he returned to Europeand in 1798 settled in Breville, near Paris. Still devoted to the Polish cause, he took part in creation of the Polish Legions. Also, on October 17and November 6, 1799, he met with Napoleon Bonaparte. However, he failed to get any credit from French leader, who regarded Kościuszko as "fool", "overestimating his influence" in Poland (letter from Napoleon to Fouche, 1807).
He remained politically active in Polish émigré circles in France and in 1799 was a founding member of the Society of Polish Republicans. However, he did not return to the
Duchy of Warsawand did not join the reborn Polish Armyallied with Napoleon. Instead, after the fall of Napoleon's empire in 1815 he met with Russia's TsarAlexander I in Braunau. In return for his services, Kościuszko demanded for social reforms and territorial gains for Poland - to reach Dvina and Dnieper to the East. Alexander asked him to go to Warsaw; however, soon afterwards, in Vienna, Kościuszko learned that the Kingdom of Poland created by the Tsar would be even smaller than the earlier Duchy of Warsaw. Kościuszko called such an entity "a joke"; [ [http://www.nonpossumus.pl/biblioteka/feliks_koneczny/swieci/202.php Feliks Koneczny - "Święci w dziejach Narodu Polskiego"] .] and when he received no reply to his letters to the Tsar, he left Vienna and moved to Solothurn, Switzerland, where his friend Franciszek Zeltner was mayor. Suffering from poor health and old wounds, on October 15, 1817, Tadeusz Kościuszko died there of a fall from his horse. Two years before his death, Kościuszko had freed all his serfs.
Kościuszko's body was embalmed and placed in a
cryptat Solothurn's Jesuit Church. His viscera, removed in the process of embalming, were separately interred in a graveyard at Zuchwil, near Solothurn, except for the heart, for which an urnwas fashioned. In 1818 Kościuszko's body was transferred to Kraków, Poland, and placed in a crypt at Wawel Cathedral, a pantheon of Polish kings and national heroes. Kościuszko's heart, which had been preserved at the Polish Museum in Rapperswil, Switzerland, was in 1927, along with the rest of the Museum's holdings, repatriated to Warsaw, where the heart now reposes in a chapel at the Royal Castle. Kościuszko's other viscera remain interred at Zuchwil, where a large memorial stone was erected in 1820 and can be visited today, next to a Polish memorial chapel. [ [http://www.zuchwil.ch/topic5451/story12625.html Gemeinde Zuchwil] (German)] [ [http://www.kopieckosciuszki.pl/?x=historia_tk&lang=en Kościuszko Mound: Biography] ]
As a national hero of both
Polandand the United States, Kościuszko has given his name to many places around the world. The Polish explorer Count Paweł Edmund Strzeleckinamed the highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko, for him; the mountain is now the central point of Kosciuszko National Park.
He has also given his name to
Kosciusko, Mississippiand Kosciusko, Texas; Kosciusko County, Indiana; Kosciusko Islandin Alaska; New York State's two Kosciuszko Bridges (in Latham on I-87 just north of Albany; and on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway); Kosciuszko Street (BMT Jamaica Line); the Kosciuszko Bridge that crosses the Naugatuck River in Naugatuck, Connecticut; Kosciuszko Street in Brooklyn, New York; Kosciuszko Street in Manchester, New Hampshire; Kosciuszko Street in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania; Kosciuszko Way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Kosciuszko Park in Stamford, Connecticut; Kosciuszko Street in South Bend, Indiana, Kosciusko Street in Woburn, Massachusetts; and Thaddeus Kosciusko Way in downtown Los Angeles, California.
There is a Kościuszko
equestrian statuein Kościuszko Park, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, across from the Polish Basilica of St. Josaphat. There are statues of him in Detroit, Michigan; Boston Public Garden; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Chicago's Museum Campus on Solidarity Drive; Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C.; the United States Military Academyat West Point; Williams Parkin St. Petersburg, Florida; and Red Bud Springs Memorial Park in Kosciusko, Mississippi; in Kosciuszko Park in East Chicago,Indiana; and (with Kazimierz Pułaski) in Poland, Ohio, a village named in honor of the two heroes of the American Revolution.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his Revolutionary War home is preserved as Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, administered as part of Independence National Historical Park; and a monument to him stands at the corner of Benjamin Franklin Parkwayand 18th Street. Hamtramck, Michigan, has a Kosciuszko Middle School; Chicago, a public park named for him in Logan Square; and East Chicago, Indiana, a public park (with statue), a school and a neighborhood, all bearing Kosciuszko's name. Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvaniahas a Polish FalconsSportsman's Club named after Kosciuszko. There is a Kosciusko Way in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
There are also streets named for Kościuszko in
Saint Petersburg, Russia; downtown Belgrade, Serbia("Ulica Tadeuša Košćuška"); Budapest, Hungary("Kosciuszkó Tádé utca"); and Vilnius, Lithuania("Kosciuškos gatvė"). There is also a Kosciusko Avenue in Geelong, VIC, Australia. There is even a small street named after him in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In Poland, every major town has a street or square named for Kościuszko. Between 1820 and 1823, the people of
Krakówbuilt the Kościuszko Moundto commemorate the Polish leader. A similar mound was built in 1861 at Olkusz[http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kopiec_Ko%C5%9Bciuszki_w_Olkuszu] .
He is the patron of Kraków University of Technology, Wrocław Military University, and countless other schools and "gymnasia" throughout Poland. He was the patron of the 1st Regiment of the
Polish 5th Rifle Division, and of the 1st Division of the Polish 1st Army. After World War Ithe Kościuszko Squadron, and during World War IIthe 303rd Polish Squadron, were named for him. Two ships have been named for him: " SS Kościuszko", and " ORP Generał Tadeusz Kościuszko" (a former United States Navyfrigate that was transferred to Poland). Thomas Jeffersoncalled Kościuszko "as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known."
Few know that the
abolitionistideas Kościuszko absorbed in Paris and the United States influenced his passion to eliminate serfdomin his homeland. But the exchange worked both ways. After the Revolution Kościuszko urged the Patriots to fulfill the promise of their doctrine of unalienablebirthrights by ending slaveryin the U.S. His plea went unheard, however. For his efforts in favor of African Americans Mikael Dziewanowskirecognized him as a "pioneer of emancipation and a spokesman for racial democracy and justice in eighteenth-century America." [Mikael Dziewanowski's "Tadeuz Kościuszko, Kazimierz Puaski, and the American War of Independence," in Jaraslaw Pelenki, ed., "The American and European Revolutions, 1776-1848: Sociopolitical and Ideological Aspects; Proceedings of the Second Bicentennial Conference of Polish and American Historians, 29 September--1 October 1976" (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1980). ]
*List of Poles
* [http://www.swies.us Thaddeus Kosciuszko as an Artist] (book about the Polish-American hero)
* [http://www.kosciuszkofoundation.org/ The Kosciuszko Foundation.] (Polish-American cultural foundation named for General Tadeusz Kosciuszko)
* [http://mtkosciuszko.org.au/ Mt. Kosciuszko Inc.] Webpage of Australia's Mt. Kosciuszko Association (named for Australia's highest mountain peak).
* [http://europeanhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa060801a.htm About.com feature on Tadeusz Kosciuszko]
* [http://www.polishworld.com/polemb/const/tk.html Polish Embassy in the United States: a tribute page]
* [http://www.nps.gov/thko/ US Kosciuszko National Monument web site]
* [http://www.derbyhistorical.org/Kosciuszko.html Kosciuszko Polish-American Historical Society, Inc., of the Valley Ansonia - Derby - Shelton - Seymour, Connecticut]
* [http://info-poland.buffalo.edu/classroom/kosciuszko/monuments.html Kosciuszko monuments gallery]
* [http://fr.wikisource.org/wiki/Nieznany_r%C4%99kopis_Tadeusza_Ko%C5%9Bciuszki Unknown Kościuszko manuscript]
* [http://babinets.com/beautiful-pictures-brest-land-photos/beautiful-photos-brest-land-pictures.html#kosciuszko Photographs of Mereszowszczyzna manor in Belarus]
* [http://beatonna.livejournal.com/30379.html A humorous biographical comic about Kościuszko]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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