Tadeusz Kosciuszko, hero of two continents

Tadeusz Kosciuszko:

Polish national hero – check.

Lithuanian national hero – check.

Belarussian – check.

And American – that too.

Kosciuszko was one of many of the European continent (see: Lafayette) in the Continental Army, serving under Generals Gates and Washington in the Revolutionary War. Afterwards, he was rewarded with: a promotion to Brigadier General, American citizenship, and a plot of land in Ohio.

An abolitionist, he left his property to be administered by Thomas Jefferson when he returned to Europe – to be used to buy the freedom of slaves and pay for their educations (Jefferson abdicated his assignment after Kosciuszko’s death).

But, as noted, before Kosciuszko died, the Revolutionary war hero returned to Europe, signed up with the Polish military, and made his reputation on the Continent.

Though he doesn’t seem to have made much of his own history in Boston, his tenuous connection to the city is this statue on the Boston Commons that was put up by the city’s Polish Community in 1927 (that’s 150 years since he joined the Continental Army). The female artist was Bostonian, Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson (who deserves her own post). He’s also the subject of memorials in Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Washington DC, St. Petersburg.

An interview with his biographer.

Photo of the Boston Common statue by apparent Boston statue connoisseur, Wally Gobetz. One favorite that he’s documented, frankly too recent for this blog, is the Tortoise vs. Hare race of Copley Square, installed 1994.


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