tv [untitled] CSPAN June 14, 2009 12:00am-12:30am EDT
>> alex storozynski, executive director and president of the kosciuszko foundation recounts the life of thaddeus kosciuszko, a polish-lithuanian immigrant to the jana became an engineer and the continental army. mr. kosciuszko fortified philadelphia and the vice battle plans for the american victory at saratoga. following the war he returned to poland and became commander in chief of the polish army. the polish embassy in washington d.c. hosted this event. it is an hour. ..
probably the greatest humanitarian of the era. in 1817 when the news of his death and exile in switzerland spread funeral mass is withheld in catholic, lutheran and calvinist churches even jewish temples and muslim mosques health services where the worshipers prayed for god to take kosciuszko's sold to heaven. think about it. it europe have gone through decades of ethnic and religious strife yet everybody pay for his soul. kosciuszko was born in feudalistic year of at a time the polish life of the ne commonwealth banned from the black sea to the baltic. kosciuszko's family had a modest estate and under feudalism if you own the land he owned the people on the land. so his family owned 31 peasant families told the fields that belong to his family. feudalism, the families that owned slaves, these slaves worked from day on till night.
but poland had a form of democracy were the kings were elected and their king at the time of the kosciuszko's birth was elected thanks to the help of his lover, catherine the great of russia. russia started having more and more impact in polish society at this time so a lot of polls were trying to find a way to help drive out the russians. one of them was prince adam who we see here. he caught the -- kosciuszko call the attention of the prince at the time starting in light school to create a class of soldiers the would help drive out the russians and kosciuszko caught his attention because he was brilliant in math and art and in fact kosciuszko did this drawing of the prince. now after graduating from a of school which today is the administration building of the university of warsaw, kosciuszko became captain of the artillery
and during this time some of the families in poland decided they wanted to get rid of the russians even faster so a civil war broke out and in that civil war cassimere pulaski from of the families you may have heard of also served in the american revolution led the civil war to drive out the russians. kosciuszko had a choice to make. jul joined with cows near pulaski and help drive out the russians and against the king and prince 2-cd paid for my studies? either way he would be killing poles so he decided not to take sides and instead he to get a vantage of a scholarship to go to france and study or ted and on the side he studied military engineering because he couldn't go to the military school in paris because he wasn't a french citizen he audited the glasses and learned about the theories about others and had created these incredible military strategies. and while he was there he did
these paintings and this is one of them and here is another palace he designed that was meant for the prince. but in paris, kosciuszko also became obsessed with the new philosophy, economic philosophy called physiocrats see, and under fizzy of proceed those who started it had a theory that all wealth comes from the land and those who own the land are the richest but why are they the richest? they are the richest because the peasants farmed the land to and make it more valuable. so he came up with this philosophy laissez-faire hands of the surf and give them more of the fruit of their labor so they will be happier and produce more. well, kosciuszko fell in love with this theory because it had a lot of implications for poland because the peasants were also sleeps in poland. so when he returned to poland he couldn't get a job in the
military so he took a job during the daughters of one of the richest man in poland. he had a daughter named louise and kosciuszko started to murdering her and explaining all about physiocracy and she said don't tell me about physiocracy because when you were in paris making drawings me and my sister translated the first book from french into polish physiocracy. the dow was it. kosciuszko filed madly in love with her. [laughter] and he decided he wanted to marry her so he went to the lord and said i would like to marry your daughter. well, he looked at the estate and realized he didn't have that much money and said i'm sorry but pigeons are not meant for sparrows. and daughters of land magnets are not meant for the common so kosciuszko majority loper with her. unfortunately, he was captured
and he pulled out his sword and was about to fight off the lord and his men and he realized this is the father of the woman i am in love with so he put the sport back into the sheet and they beat him up, knocked him unconscious and took the daughter away. now kosciuszko had to run away because the father decided he is going to try and prosecute him for abducting his daughter. so kosciuszko left and went to paris where he learned about the american revolution and first heard about the battles of lexington and concord, so there he set sail for america. and after crossing the atlantic and hurricane season where his boat was shipwrecked and the caribbean and he had to swim to shore with a mass because the boat fell apart and eventually he made his way to philadelphia and when he got to philadelphia he went and introduced himself to the only american he ever
heard of, benjamin franklin. and he walked into an franklin's office and said i would like to take your test for military engineering. and penn franklin looked at him like he was from mars and said we are a country of farmers and merchants and we don't have army much lest a test for what is it, military engineering? but we do have somebody that knows a lot about geometry. come back and we will give a geometry test. kosciuszko came back and took the test and a stick and then franklin said you are in charge of building forts. [laughter] so he built forts across the river, the delaware river from philadelphia at fort emmerson and billing support, and while he was building the sports, they realized the british ships would sail into the delaware and try to bombard philadelphia. so he started building what is known as a cheveaux and they
would put tips on the end and put them under water so that when the british ships would sail in they would puncture the bottom of the ship and then they would sink. the americans said this guy knows what he's doing so they made him a car all of engineers and paid him a reward and ben franklin went to paris and suddenly there was a battle for who would kosciuszko work for next. well, he got the attention of general horatio gates, the commander of the northern army for the continental army. and general gates was in charge of new work and he knew the british would be coming down from canada and attacking from the three sides. so he sent kosciuszko to a place called fort ticonderoga and said figure out of the fort secure and if it's some place we can make our stand the rigors of kosciuszko got up to the fort ticonderoga and said you have this for to buy you have a hill and of the british come down and
put antennas on the hill they can shoot into the fort. americans didn't listen because they said how are we going to get kamins up the steep hill and they didn't do it. well, the british came down and the generals army came down and sure enough general collapse who was with him said let's get a cannon up there. the british soldiers also minded and they said were ago it can go a man can go and where a man can go he can hold up a gun so bring some cannons up there. the next day the americans will cut and saw these redcoats dancing shooting cannonballs into the water and when they started landing in to the fort they realized we have to evacuate because we are dead ducks. so, they marched down the hudson trying to run away and they put kosciuszko in charge of covering the rear and for kosciuszko to slow down the troops cut down trees to cover the roads. he also ruled boulders to the
stream so they would flood the roads and as a result, it took the british 20 days to travel 22 miles because the blocked roads. so kosciuszko earned a reputation of having as the -- you look the terrain and in fingertips feel where the can and should be and where you should need your stand. the americans looked out because they were going to be attacked from three sides. general howe will changed course and attacked philadelphia. the british work repeled off the west so the americans only had to deal with the generals army that was marching from the north. and kosciuszko now was put in charge of where to put the canons. so he came up and drafted these plans for the battle of saratoga, which is seen here. these are kosciuszko's plans for the battle and he knew with the british coming down from the north they would not be able to
fight the american army to the east because the hudson river was there and he knew they wouldn't find them to the west because there was heavy forest surrealist the british would be here marching up the hill and the americans were here defending an elevated position. as the result of this, this battle plan, the united states won the battle of saratoga which was the turning point of the american revolution. unfortunately there was a flamboyant character also at the battle in bed mcdonald who often gets credit for the battle because he charged down the hill and told my ways let's go and he ended up getting shot and wounded but the real credit went to horatio gates who was the officer at this battle and when everyone started giving him credit for this among them was dr. rush, the most famous doctor in the american revolution and general gates replied to him
stock, doctor, stop. and war as medicine natural calls is not under the control do much. in the present case, the great campaign were the hills and forests which are young polish engineer was skillful enough to select from my encampment. well, kosciuszko became closer and closer with general gates. that is because when slave owners tried to send their slaves to the battle of saratoga to fight in their place gates allowed the black man to enlist in the army under their own name and kosciuszko saw the black sleeves of america the same way that he did the white surface under feudalistic europe because they both belonged to the land while slavery in america was much more brutal than feudalism and he equated the two as very similar. so now that they realized kosciuszko de what he was doing they decided they would put him in charge what washington called the key to america, west point.
and the point of guarding west point was because the americans knew the british would try to contain the american revolution to the of england states where they began and if the americans could control the north river the time which is now called the hudson river they would be able to keep it in one place. and because the americans didn't have a navy day realized that what they could do is fire on the ships from the water so they put a giant chain across the river and decided they would build a fort right here to shoot at the british when they tried to make this turn in the hudson river. now, kosciuszko looked back here and all these hills and i he had the same problem at fort ticonderoga. you need to cover the high ground. the americans were not sure about that again and for than the of the important thing was the chain. if we put this heavy chain across the hudson, this stands today at west point, the british will be able to sail up and down the river.
so, kosciuszko kept arguing you need to put these high points up there and eventually, they listened to him. weigel he was at west point he became friends with general patterson and general patterson had a black man who was not a slave could use a free black man who was this lively character who was a great rock on tour and he used to tell stories about his father he said was a prince from africa and kosciuszko became so close to him patterson said okay from now one you work for kosciuszko. well, kosciuszko built a log cabin at west point from which he worked out as his headquarters and he would always go to different hills and to draw links to figure out how to do the blueprints for west point and one day he decided he was going to cross the hudson river and stayed there for three days, do blueprints and come back so he told grippy as everyone called him i will be back in three days.
well, grip the habitat and to himself in three days so what did he do? he had a party and invite all of the black man at west point whether they were slaves were freed black man and they decided they were going to drink all of kosciuszko's one and they got happy drinking the line and started dancing around and trippi decided he was going to try on kosciuszko's uniform from poland and this dress uniform from poland has this giant ostrich feather sticking out the top and since kosciuszko took his boots with him, drippy put bootblack on his feet so they would look like boots and was dancing around the cabin. well, kosciuszko couldn't make it across the river so he came back the same night. [laughter] and when he arrived he walked in on the party and all these black men were in shock. they made faces as if they had seen the devil and started jumping out the windows rushing for the door and bookexpo felt kosciuszko's feet and said with
kosciuszko took grippy by the hand and said rise, prince, it is beneath the dignity of an african prince to put himself at feet of anyone and he dragged him out and brought him over to the other american officers and he said we have a prince from africa who came to join the cause and by the way he likes to drink. [laughter] so they started toasting him and they made him dodge ginned distilled from barley and flavored with juniper berries. rather than beating or whipping him for violating his clothes, the assembled partygoers decided they would hasten to college style and smoked a peace pipe in his honor until he got sick. laughter echoes of the next day instead of waking and put flashes on his back he will gup with a bad hangover. now, during the two and a half
years kosciuszko was in west point he kept again are doing it is a great we have the fort guarding the chain but we have these other spots on the hills where we need to put forth readouts and the americans were all convinced. and so, this is west point today, this is a statute of kosciuszko adel west point. kosciuszko climbed up to the vantage point which was read out number four and he said from appear you need to have tannins appear at all times because you can see the entire plan and unless we have cannons we are going to have a repeat of fort ticonderoga where we will be sitting ducks. now, there were after the battle of saratoga some french engineers started showing up in america as well and the french engineer said this is out of range, we will never put temmins up here, there is no point to do this and eventually george
washington said i think i agree with the polish guy, let's put forts up there, so they built fort putnam then you see here that stands today at west replete. this is for the putnam from the other side and kosciuszko he essentially built this series of forts at west point, 13 different readouts and heavy forts that became the seventh tangible fortification the british couldn't attack. now around this time there was someone else that noticed this, benedict arnold. benedict arnold was making a secret plot with the british to sell his plans for west point to the british. now, kosciuszko warned all the time the vantage point that you just salles we need to hundred men to be stationed at all times. after serving two and a half years at west point kosciuszko wanted to get back in bottles of george washington said okay go down to the south we need your skills and on the same day he
went to the south george washington put benedict arnold and charge of west point. benedict arnold wrote an order to all of his men saying we don't need to hundred guys up there. in case of alarm, quote, only a noncommissioned officer and three men should meet out there and then he wrote to the reddish saying when you come in, come in the back way readout number four and that is the best way because all the forts are going to fall like dominoes. luckily benedict arnold was caught. his plot was uncovered when the supply, mr. major andre was trying to cross the lines into the british sector and he was found with the snap. this map is a recreation of his plans by a french engineer. kosciuszko gave all of his plans and put them in a suitcase and gave them to sarah for safekeeping. when benedict arnold's plot was uncovered mrs. morin who is terrified this might fall into
enemy hands took it outside, put it on the lawn and set it on fire. but this, this was recreated and this is exactly what the benedick donald was caught with when he was trying to go to the british. in the south kosciuszko now salles slavery up and close for the first time to such extent as it was. here's a map of virginia and you see the areas there were large populations of slaves and hear kosciuszko at thomas jefferson for the first time. thomas jefferson, the man that wrote all men are created equal on slaves. and kosciuszko thought he was a hypocrite. kosciuszko end of serving the rest of the war in the carolinas where he developed the report with slaves and the sovereign states. he brought grippy and the friendship helped him out and kosciuszko was drawn to other
continental soldiers were also abolitionists. one of them was colonel lawrence, outspoken opponent of slavery but when he was killed the other men started taking off his clothes and kosciuszko wrote to general green who was the commanding officer that this was mean and low thinking and the two negro's belonging to lawrence r. naked and wash shirts, jackets, breeches and their skin can bear as well as ours good things. kosciuszko was in charge now of south carolina and basically surrounding and putting the stranglehold on charleston. and the way he kept track was going on in charleston was he had black spies of going to charleston and come back and tell which people were loyalists and which people work with the rebels. even shibley, kosciuszko was able to show off charleston and the revolution ended and he actually fought in the last battle of the revolution.
at the end of the war, the americans of kosciuszko salary of $12,280. they couldn't pay and because the united states treasury bills and set up yet so they gave him bonds bearing interest of 6% but this didn't help kosciuszko because he wanted to go back to poland. so, he met this man saw when -- solomon who was a polish jew was at 22 wall street which was already, new york city was a polyglot city at this time and solomon travel around europe and spoke feast for languages so he started trading currencies and he knew all the european laws so he made a lot of money and opened a shop where he traded every species of merchandise and every branch of business. well, solomon became friends with jefferson, madison, and a lot of people he agreed with politically. so, he would give them loans but these were loans he didn't want
paid back and this is one of the greatest lost heroes of the american revolution because times solomon ended up finding much of the american revolution. the british are arrested him in new york and he escaped and made his way to philadelphia and in philadelphia he opened up essentially a stock market but it was in the back of a coffee shop. and so, kosciuszko met him in philadelphia and gave times solomon gave kosciuszko $142 which was most likely the mauney kosciuszko used to sail back to poland. and kosciuszko now and before from his time in poland understood the plight of the jews and he wrote to general green that unfortunately i will be traveling around and i will be, quote come in the situation of the israelites. perhaps i will be obliged to rim 12 years or more and this is my misfortunes and he is referring to the diaspora of the jews and felt like he would be without a
helmet. while kosciuszko did make it back to poland and when he made it back to poland this is warsaw, he saw the situation was even worse than before. the russians were controlling more and more things and serfdom was even more brutal and kosciuszko wrote to his sister served as a word that must be cursed by all enlightened nations. now luckily, many people in the time i agree with him. by now the french revolution was going on and there was also a polish revolution that began and the polish king who knew unless he joined the people trying to reform the situation would suffer the same fate as the royalty in paris. so the poles passed the first constitution in europe, this was the second constitution and the world only to that of the united states and provide a form of habeas corpus, new rights for the glasses and virtues and
serfs who fled from other countries would be granted amnesty in poland and then the king seen here went into the cathedral and swore before god he would honor this constitution. this constitution was so amazing that jefferson commented, george washington commented on it, thomas paine was so pleased with the new constitution that even he considered quitting for the polish citizenship. however, catherine the great said if the physiocracy poles free them liable to be freed so they got together and attacked poland at once. now, kosciuszko who fought in the american revolution and was impressed with the notion of minuteman and militias explained to the poles we need groups that are ready with different areas so we will have a regular army but when the war goes to the different regions we should have local people ready and at that
time in poland 8% of the population were serfs, the% portability and 10% were jews. he wrote we need a regular army recruited by force made up if we had a regular army regretted by force made up of peasants with no legal rights for government protection of persons and property they won't feel ties to the country to her. if we have this militia of glasses, he rose, especially the nobles should be represented in the same proportion of peasants, jews and those with no complete ties in our country. as recently he was telling the nobility need to get guns to the peasant serfs and they looked at him like he was crazy because as the americans in the south plantation owners didn't want to get guns to the black slaves because they knew they would turn the guns on them, the nobility in poland said if we get guns to the peasants they are going to turn on noss so they didn't listen.
and as a result, poland lost the war because it was attacked by all three sides and the army wasn't big enough to be with three armies in three different countries so kosciuszko was forced to flee his country. this time he went to paris where he witnessed the guillotine in action. kosciuszko was disgusted and later told the poles they wouldn't have a french revolution then he went to rome where the vatican hierarchy can submit making him the head of the pope's army. but conservative cardinals viewed this ppaticiartion of the american revolution with a bunch of protestants as too radical for them. so after traveling around here of the kosciuszko decided he would go back and the polls would be on their own and may 24, 1794, a revolutionary council that woman to drive the russians of poland proclaimed him commander-in-chief. the same day kosciuszko gave four speeches to the army,
citizenry, clergy and women of poland and then kosciuszko walked into the synagogue and spoke with rabbi david levy and told the congregation he needed the support in the revolution. this was a plaque inside which commemorates kosciuszko's visit with rabbi and jews and of first the jews didn't know what to make of kosciuszko's proposition because while individual jews fought in separate armies and different countries they had never had their own army but after awhile they saw they could trust kosciuszko and in some areas of poland as much as 20% of the army was jewish. in addition to the regular army, kosciuszko decided since the peasants will not be given guns they are going to take their size with the size used to cut wheat, you probably remember from the soviet flag as well. they bent the blades forward and decided that would be the weapon.