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Self-Described Lithuanians: Kosciuszko

1897 Julian Rhys: "Thaddeus Kosciuszko" (Lithuanian: Tadas Kosciuška) from

Yes, Kosciuszko is one of a number of famous ethnic Poles who, because of where they were born, described themselves, often proudly, as Lithuanian. This post describes only the first -- more to come!

"Born in Mereczowszczyzna, near Kosava (then in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which was a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), a town in today's Belarus. Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko: February 4, 1746 – October 15, 1817, was a Polish–Lithuanian general and military leader during the Kościuszko Uprising. He is a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and the United States. He led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia as Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Force (Najwyższy Naczelnik Siły Zbrojnej Narodowej). Before commanding the 1794 Uprising, he fought in the American Revolutionary War as a colonel in the Continental Army. In 1783, in recognition of his dedicated service, he was brevetted by the Continental Congress to the rank of brigadier general and became a naturalized citizen of the United States."

There are several Anglicized spellings of Kościuszko's name. Perhaps the most frequently-occurring is "Thaddeus Kosciusko," though the full "Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kosciusko" is also seen. In Lithuanian, Kościuszko's name is rendered as Tadas Kosciuška or Tadeušas Kosciuška. In Belarusian it is Tadevush Kastsyushka or Tadevuš Kaściuška."

So, did he consider himself a native of Poland, Belarus -- or Lithuania? Luckily, we have his own words, in his wills. His second, 1806, will was quoted in "The Massachusetts Law Society Journal," Vol. XX, December, 1949 (as quoted in "Adjudication of General Kosciuszko's Wills," by Anthony O. Shallna, itself quoted in a letter to the editor in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of "Lithuanian Heritage" magazine)."

"Know all men by these presents that I, Thade Kosciuszko, formerly an officer of the United States of

America in their Revolutionary War against Great Britain, and a native of hereby will and

direct that at my decease..."


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