Dziennik Zjednoczenia -- June 15, 1926Speech of a Negro before the Monument of Kosciuszko (Delivered at Kosciuszko's Manifestation)
A speech of thanksgiving was delivered by Robert S. Abbott, editor of the Chicago Defender, which we give word for word:
"It is a thing entirely natural for a member of my race to take part in celebrations which offer homage to a great Polish patriot, General Kosciuszko.
"We will never forget his beautiful and patriotic act, which took place during the Revolutionary War when he received from the government a vast tract of land where lies at present the state of Pennsylvania.
"Wherever there is civilization and wherever Negroes live, that act and the glory of that great patriot, who gained a name for himself in a struggle for the freedom of nations, will always shine for us on the path to freedom and progress.2
"I am immensely glad that here in Chicago, where we have such a mass of different nationalities from the entire globe, the Poles constitute a very large percentage of the inhabitants and that the Poles did not forget about the services of their countryman, but are endeavoring to set them off and tell the whole world about Thaddeus Kosciuszko, what he was, and what he accomplished.
"The people of the race whom I represent constitute fifteen per cent of the inhabitants of this beautiful and magnificent city. We have worked, and will not cease to work, to raise the city yet on a higher rung of development, culture and civilization.
"In the history of the United States more minute details are lacking about the One (sic) to whom today we offer homage and that is why instances occur where someone may ask, What could unite in today's 3celebration a people who came from a distant country in Africa with the people of a likewise distant country who came clear from Central Europe?
"Notwithstanding, however (sic), such a difference, these two races have become united in their idealism.
"Thaddeus Kosciuszko, patriot, soldier, general, engineer, politician, altruist and liberator was that link uniting these two races who equally respect him and honor him for the deeds that he fulfilled for humanity.
"Today America is the richest country in the world, but before that country was found, on the spot where we see each other at the present time several very powerful factors contributed to the building of the present day great United States. Such men as Washington, Hamilton, Lafayette, Rochambeau, Kosciuszko, Pulaski and several inhabitants of Africa had to devote all their capabilities and offer their spirit to that country in which we have the fortune at present to live.4
"There was only one Kosciuszko, to whom there was only one beloved country, that was Poland.
"The Guardian of the People, however, when he saw that America needed his help, which he alone could offer (sic), sacrificed everything and came to aid those oppressed at that time,the colonies, which found themselves in the iron grasp of England. Benjamin Franklin, as a representative of America in France, gave Kosciuszko letters of recommendation to Washington, and in the summer of 1776 this young Polish hero found himself in an American camp.
"'What, sir, do you wish to do ?' questioned Washington.
"'I came to fight as a volunteer for the independence of America,' answered Kosciuszko.
"'For what, sir, are you qualified?' again asks Washington.
"'Please try me,' answered the confident Kosciuszko.5
"History points out that during the next eight years the name of Kosciuszko played an important role in the shaping of the United States. Kosciuszko, that great ideal ist, leaving the field of action in Europe, came over to America so that here with a sabre in his hand he could contribute to the liberation of America. France sent to us Lafayette and Rochambeau; Germany, De Kalb and Steuben; Poland, Kosciuszko and Pulaski. Kosciuszko, and no one else, taught the American Army the art of the fortification of defensive strongholds. In the rank of a colonel he reached the highest degree of technical knowledge in the American army. For his brilliant work Congress honored him with the Order of Cincinnati and elevated him to the rank of Brigadier-General. But history points out that besides West Point, to which institution Kosciuszko himself had given a foundation, nothing had been done in America to honor the deeds of the hero of two worlds, until the Poles took it upon themselves and the result of that was the only monument of its kind in America.6
"Let the following letter addressed to Thomas Jefferson serve as a testimonial of how much Kosciuszko loved freedom.
'I, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, leaving America, make known that in case there be no other testamentary arrangement made in regard to my possessions in the United States, I hereby authorize my friend, Jefferson, that he use all my property to ransom the negroes, giving them liberty in my name; to educate them in crafts or in other occupations; to interpret to them new relations in regard to moral obligations, making them through this, good neighbors, good fathers or mothers, husbands or wives; in their duties as citizens; point out to them how to become good defenders of liberty and country and in general that which will bring them well-being and fortune; and as an executor of the actual disposal I appoint Thomas Jefferson.
(Signed) T. Kosciuszko
May 5th, 1798.'7
"After the death of Kosciuszko, Thomas Jefferson on account of his advanced age was unable to engage himself in the fulfillment of the will of Kosciuszko, but he placed the same in court at Albermarle County, Virginia, demanding that the will of Kosciuszko be fulfilled.
"Seven years later a school for Negroes was established in Newark, N. J., under the name of Kosciuszko School. Kosciuszko left $13,000 for the foundation of the same. History informs us that in 1817 Kosciuszko freed those subservient to him in the days of lords.
"There are over three million of you Poles in America and you, through the merits of Kosciuszko and others, have a right to everything that is American. If you, under the Star Spangled Banner, enjoy the liberty fought out by such patriots as Kosciuszko, therefore, I, in the name of the Negro race appeal to you, plead with you to give to us that economic liberty, political and racial - that liberty for which negroblood 8has flowed from the Revolutionary War to the times of the late World War, where thousands of Negroes fell for world democracy.
"The general opinion that the inhabitants of the countries in Southern Europe are the only ones who have shown friendship toward the Negro race is wrong because, did not the Poles show enough of their love of freedom of country and of personal liberty? Such a nation hates slavery and oppression in others!
"I entertain the hope that the Poles in Chicago, as righteous brothers of Kosciuszko, will continue to spread liberty and the emancipation of states and races that was initiated by the greatest hero and patriot, Thaddeus Kosciuszko.
"In the name of my race I offer to you Poles my best wishes on this 150th anniversary, and at the same time I promise to defend the ideals of that great patriot, whose anniversary we celebrate today.9
"In conclusion, allow me to say that as long as rivers will flow into the sea, as long as shadows will fly above mountain peaks, as long as the skies will nourish the stars, as long as the heart will love, as long as the mind will be able to think in the memory of our race, the deeds of your beloved Poland and your great patriot and hero, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, will last forever."
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