• Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial

    Thaddeus Kosciuszko

    National Memorial Pennsylvania

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you pronounce his name?
The correct pronunciation is Thaddeus Kosciuszko (KOS-CHOOS-KO).

What is the Kosciuszko connection to Philadelphia?
Cheering crowds and booming cannon salutes greeted General Thaddeus Kosciuszko on his arrival to Philadelphia in August, 1797. Exiled from his beloved Poland, his only wish was to return to his “second country.” Though his many American friends urged him to make a new life and home in the United States, Kosciuszko stayed here less than a year. Turbulent events would draw the General back to Europe in May, 1798.

Instructed to find “a dwelling as small, as remote, and as cheap” as possible, Kosciuszko’s secretary, Julian Niemcewicz, chose Mrs. Ann Relf’s boarding house in Society Hill. Still suffering from battle wounds received during the Polish Insurrection, Kosciuszko rarely left his bedchamber. He amused himself through reading, hobbies, and entertaining visitors. Persons of all backgrounds were welcomed here by Kosciuszko. For some visitors, exciting discoveries in science, discussions about social reforms, and the fierce American political scene were the topics of the day. Others stopped by to share a relaxing game of chess or whist. Young ladies enjoyed having their portraits painted by the General.

Where did he go after he left Philadelphia?
At 4:00 a.m., on May 5, 1798, Thaddeus Kosciuszko secretly left Philadelphia for France. His hasty departure sparked much speculation. Was Kosciuszko on a secret unofficial diplomatic mission for his good friend Vice-President Thomas Jefferson? Did Kosciuszko intend to lead another insurrection in his homeland? France and the United States were at undeclared war. At the root of the conflict was the re-establishment of commercial ties between Great Britain and its former colony, the brutal turn of the French Revolution, and the XYZ Affair scandal.

Several years later, Kosciuszko publicly admitted to playing a role in encouraging the French government to mend its diplomatic ties with the United States. Upon his arrival in France, Kosciuszko addressed officers of the Polish Legions employed by the French. “I want to be ever and inseparably with you, I want to join you to serve our common country...Like you I have fought for the country, like you I have suffered, like you I expect to regain it. This hope is the only solace of my life.” Led on by false promises made by the French government, Kosciuszko believed Poland had finally found an ally. Napoleon’s rise to power dashed his hopes of a unified and free Poland.

Kosciuszko never saw his homeland again. He moved to Soleure, Switzerland in 1815 and died there in 1817.