Thaddeus Kosciusko

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Kosciusko, Thaddeus

Kosciusko or Kosciuszko, Thaddeus (kŏsˌēŭsˈkō), Pol. Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Košciuszko, 1746–1817, Polish general. Trained in military academies in Warsaw and Paris, he offered his services to the colonists in the American Revolution because of his commitment to the ideal of liberty. Arriving in America in 1777, he took part in the Saratoga campaign and advised Horatio Gates to fortify Bemis Heights. Later he fortified (1778) West Point and fought (1780) with distinction under Gen. Nathanael Greene in the Carolina campaign. After his return to Poland he became a champion of Polish independence. He fought (1792–93) in the campaign that resulted in the second partition (1793) of Poland (see Poland, partitions of). In 1794 he issued a call at Kraków for a national uprising and led the Polish forces against both Russians and Prussians in a gallant but unsuccessful rebellion that ended with the final partition of Poland. He was imprisoned, and after being freed (1796) went to the United States and later (1798) to France, where after the fall of Napoleon he pleaded with Alexander I of Russia for Polish independence. He died in Solothurn, Switzerland, and is buried in Kraków. His devotion to liberty and Polish independence have made him one of the great Polish heroes.


See studies by M. Haiman (1943, repr. 1975 and 1946, repr. 1977).

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Kosciusko, (Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura) Thaddeus

(1746–1817) soldier, revolutionary; born in Lithuania. The son of a small landowner, he developed an ambition for military glory and became a captain in the Polish army. When the American Revolution broke out, he got Benjamin Franklin to recommend him for military service. He arrived in Philadelphia in August 1776 and was soon commissioned a colonel in the engineers; he made major contributions to the victory at Saratoga (1777), the fortifications along the Hudson River, and to the Carolinas campaign and was promoted to brigadier general in 1783. He returned to Poland in 1784 and led rebellions against Russian occupying forces in 1792 and 1794. Although he had been forced to forswear fighting against Russia, he continued to agitate for Polish independence from exile in America and France until his death. His will directed that the 500 acres in Ohio granted him by the U.S. Congress in 1797 be sold and the money used to free slaves; instead it was used to found the Colored School of Newark, N.J., one of the earliest schools for African-Americans in the U.S.A.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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