Polish Uprising of 1794

Polish Uprising of 1794

 

a national liberation uprising against the occupying forces and reactionary magnates who had seized power as a result of the mutiny of the Confederation of Targowica and the intervention of tsarist Russia and Prussia.

The slogans of the uprising called for the restoration of the national independence of Poland, the reunification of the Polish lands that had been partitioned in 1772 and 1793, and the continuation of the reforms begun by the Four-year Sejm of 1788–92. The cavalry brigade of General A. Madaliński started the uprising on March 12. On March 24 in Kraków the Act of Uprising was promulgated, and T. Kościuszko, who led the uprising as dictator, took a public oath. Under his leadership, the peasants played a decisive role in the insurgents’ victory over a detachment of tsarist troops on April 4 near Racławice. Uprisings of the burghers liberated Warsaw on April 17–18 and Wilno (Vilnius) on April 22–23. On May 7, Kościuszko, who had been declared commander in chief of the national armed forces, published the Połaniec Manifesto of 1794, which was sabotaged by the nobility (szlachta). At the same time, the manifesto did not satisfy the hopes of the peasantry.

On May 9 and June 28 popular demonstrations in Warsaw led by the Polish Jacobins were marked by revolutionary terror against the Targowica leaders. From July to September, Prussian troops unsuccessfully besieged Warsaw. In their rear, in the Polish lands of Great Poland that had been seized earlier, a popular uprising occurred. An offensive from the east by tsarist troops under the command of A. V. Suvorov forced the insurgents to leave Wilno on August 11. On October 10, Kościuszko was seriously wounded and taken captive near Maciejowice. On November 4, tsarist troops took control of Praga, a suburb of Warsaw. On November 6 the capital surrendered. After the defeat of the uprising, there followed the third partition of Poland in 1795 and the final liquidation of the Polish state.

The courage and heroism of the masses and the social policy of the leaders of the rebellion, which was progressive despite its limitations, influenced the further struggle for national liberation of the Polish people. The Polish Uprising of 1794 also played a significant international role. By diverting the forces of Prussia, it contributed to the successes of the French revolutionary forces and paved the way for Prussia’s withdrawal from the First Coalition.

REFERENCES

Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 22, pp. 25–26.
Istoriia Pol’shi, 2nd ed., vol. 1. Moscow, 1956. Pages 342–53.
Próchnik, A. Demokracja Kościuszkowska. Warsaw, 1947.
Łukaszewicz, W. Targowica ιpowstanie Kościuszkowskie. Warsaw, 1953.

I. S. MILLER

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