The Life and Times of Thaddeus Kosciuszko

Thaddeus Kosciuszko's life encompassed some of the most exciting years of the 18th century. Kosciuszko witnessed and participated in tremendous political changes that spanned two continents. Below, you will find a chronology of Kosciuszko's life events, alongside a listing of notable world events. To learn more about the Polish patriot, visit the website of the Polish American Cultural Center. For more information on Kosciuszko's relationship with Thomas Jefferson, visit the Monticello website.

1746

  • Andrzej Tadeusz Bonaventura Kościuszko (Thaddeus Kosciuszko) born in eastern Poland to lesser nobles Ludwik and Thekla Kosciuszko
  • Thomas Jefferson is 3 years old
  • George Washington is 14 years old

1750

  • Beginning of the Industrial Revolution

1754

  • George Washington participates in the first battle of the French and Indian War

1759

  • Agrippa Hull, Kosciuszko’s future servant and companion, born in Connecticut

1764

  • Great Britain’s Parliament passes the Sugar Act

1765

  • Kosciuszko, age 19, enrolls in the Royal Military Academy in Warsaw
  • Parliament levies the Stamp Act on the American colonies

1766

  • Agrippa Hull sent to live with the Binney family near Stockbridge, Massachusetts

1769

  • Kosciuszko leaves Poland to study art and engineering in Paris
  • Thomas Jefferson, now a young lawyer, begins his service in the Virginia House of Burgesses

1770

  • Boston Massacre prompts outrage in the colonies

1773

  • Boston Tea Party takes place when those protesting England's tea tax board a cargo ship in Boston Harbor, dumping the tea overboard

1774

  • Kosciuszko returns to Poland as Russia, Prussia, and Austria begin to encroach on his homeland

1775

  • The “shot heard around the world” at Lexington and Concord marks the beginning of the American Revolutionary War

1776

  • Declaration of Independence (drafted primarily by Thomas Jefferson) ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4
  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko arrives in Philadelphia in August, eager for work as a military engineer in the Continental Army

1777

  • Assisted by Kosciuszko’s fortifications, the American forces are victorious at Saratoga, New York
  • Agrippa Hull, now 18 years old, joins the American army

1778

  • Kosciuszko designs and builds fortifications at West Point, including a massive chain stretching across the Hudson River to keep British ships from entering

1780

1781

  • Kosciuszko suffers a bayonet wound to his buttocks while escaping from a trench

1782

  • The last battles of the American Revolution take place; peace negotiations between the American and British begin in Paris
  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko returns to Philadelphia

  • Agrippa Hull parts ways with Kosciuszko

1784

  • Congress is unable to pay Kosciuszko for his services, and instead promises $12,280 with interest and 500 acres of land

  • Kosciuszko does not receive the promised compensation and leaves New York City on a ship destined for France

  • Thomas Jefferson leaves for France after being chosen as the U.S. Minister to France

1789

  • Thaddeus Kosciuszko becomes major general in the Polish army
  • The French Revolution begins

1791

  • Poland adopts a progressive, reformative new constitution. It is the world’s second written constitution, after that of the United States.
  • The slaves of Saint Domingue (modern-day Haiti) stage a revolt that begins the Haitian Revolution

1792

  • Poland rescinds the new constitution after facing hostility from Czarina Catherine the Great
  • General Kosciuszko slips out of Poland after skirmishing with Catherine’s forces

1794

  • Kosciuszko returns to Poland and agrees to lead a revolution
  • Polish leaders and visionaries declare their independence from Russia

  • Fighting continues until autumn when the Polish rebels are defeated and Kosciuszko is seriously wounded and captured

1796

  • Catherine the Great dies
  • Her son, Czar Paul, frees Kosciuszko and the other Polish prisoners of war from prisons in Russia
  • Thomas Jefferson is elected Vice President of the United States

1797

  • Kosciuszko returns to Philadelphia but travels north until the yellow fever outbreak subsides. He visits friends in New England, including Agrippa Hull and Horatio Gates.
  • Kosciuszko receives the $18,912 owed to him by the U.S. Government

1798

  • Upon his return to Philadelphia, Kosciuszko stays in Mrs. Relf’s boardinghouse on 3rd and Pine (now the site of the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial) where he entertains guests, including Thomas Jefferson and Chief Little Turtle of the Miami Nation
  • American politics are rocked by the “XYZ Affair”
  • Kosciuszko prepares a will with Jefferson’s legal assistance

  • Late in the night on May 4, Kosciuszko secretly slips out of the U.S. He departs for France in hopes of making Napoleon an ally in the cause for Polish freedom

1799

  • Napoleon takes control of France, causing Kosciuszko (who is now living in Paris) to grow alarmed and disillusioned

1801

  • Thomas Jefferson becomes president of the United States of America
  • Kosciuszko, now 55 years old, moves into the Zeltner household in Paris. Kosciuszko met Swiss diplomat Peter Joseph Zeltner during military negotiations.

1803

  • Napoleon sells the Louisiana Territory to the United States

1812

1814 - 1815

  • Two treaties are signed in Paris, ending the Napoleonic Wars
  • Napoleon is defeated at the Battle of Waterloo
  • Kosciuszko attends the Congress of Vienna at the invitation of Russian Czar Alexander. This assembly reorganizes Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. Kosciuszko is disappointed with the new borders it establishes for Poland.

1817

  • At 10PM on October 15, Kosciuszko dies in Soleure, Switzerland at the age of 71. He is remembered at the time of his death for his dedication to freedom for all people as well as his skill as a military engineer.

1818

  • Czar Alexander I permits Kosciuszko's remains to be moved from Switzerland to Poland. On June 23, Kosciuszko's body is placed in a sarcophagus in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, Poland.

Last updated: January 25, 2018

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