‘Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) – the price of freedom’

On 18th September 2018, the Polish Institute New Delhi, in collaboration with the Jindal School of International Affairs (JSIA), organized a unique exhibition titled “Thaddeus Kosciuszko (1746-1817) – the price of freedom” at the Jindal Global University (JGU), Sonipat, Haryana.

Ms. Małgorzata Tańska, Deputy Director, Polish Institute New Delhi, along with Dr. Sreeram Sunder Chaulia, Dean JSIA, inaugurated the exhibition, which will be on display till 30th September 2018 at JGU.

Dr. Sreeram Chaulia, Dean Jindal School of International Affairs, and Ms. Małgorzata Tańska, Deputy Director, Polish Institute New Delhi in discussion over anti-colonial struggles of Poland.

The exhibition presents life of the Polish national hero Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who was a campaigner for independence of the United States of North America as well as an honorary citizen of France in the age of revolution. Born in Eastern Poland in 1746, Kościuszko is one of the most widely recognised Poles, internationally.

Students and faculty members from different schools of JGU, including those from JSIA, attended the exhibition with a keenness to learn more about this great liberation hero.

Kosciuszko’s lifetime and activity coincides with a turbulent era not only in the history of the Polish state, but also in the history of Europe and North America with events such as: the formation of the United States of North America, the French Revolution, the collapse of the ancien régime in Western Europe, the Napoleonian era, and the Congress of Vienna. His contributions, however, have been immense.

Born to a noble family, of humble origins, Kosciuszko diligently pursued the path of military education. He was a graduate of the Corps of Cadets in Warsaw, Poland, and the Royal Guard Military Academy for Cavalrymen in Versailles, France. He returned to Poland in 1775, and in 1776 he arrived in the United States, where he was enlisted as an engineer in the American Army. He took part in the defense of Philadelphia.

As an expression of gratitude, George Washington, the first President of the United States, trusted him with the task of building a strong fortification at the West Point. Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, revered him as a close friend. In praise of Kosciuszko, Jefferson once stated: “He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known”.

The audience enjoyed a documentary on the life of Kościuszko.

Upon Kosciuszko’s request, he was dispatched to the South, where his skills helped the Americans win their war of independence. In 1783, Congress promoted him to the rank of ‘Brigadier General of the American Army’ and he was given a substantial amount of land as well as money, which he dedicated to the emancipation and education of African Americans.

In 1784 he came back to Poland. Subsequently, he was involved in national liberation efforts during the Polish-Russian War of 1792, after which he went into a political exile. While living in exile, he prepared a plan for a national uprising. On March 24, 1794, in Kraków’s Main Square, he took a solemn oath confirming him as the ‘Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Armed Forces’ during the national uprising.

A commemorative photograph.

Later, wounded on October 10, 1794, in a battle close to Maciejowice, he was imprisoned in a fortress in St. Petersburg and later released after tendering his loyalty to Tsar Paul I. Between 1798 and 1815 he lived in France, where he helped in setting up of the ‘Polish Legions’. Kościuszko spent his final years in Solothurn, Switzerland, where he died. His body was first buried in a crypt of a Jesuit church in Solothurn. A year later, he was moved to St. Leonard’s Crypt at Wawel Cathedral in Kraków.

For more information, please visit: http://kosciuszko.online/