Tadeusz Kosciuszko

Portrait of Kosciuszko by Benjamin West, 1797

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QUICK FACTS
BORN:
February 1746 in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
  DIED:
15 October 1817 in Solothurn, Switzerland

  • In 1798 Congress grants $18,912 in back-pay to Kosciuszko for his role in the Revolutionary War. In his will, he authorizes his friend Thomas Jefferson to employ the whole thereof in purchasing Negroes from among his own or any others— in order to free them.
  • Jefferson neglects to do so. In 1826 when he dies, the money is still in trust, and his slaves are sold at auction.
Frequently referred to as Thaddeus Kosciuszko. Portrait to come. See entry in Wikipedia.

 

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As in the case of his career as commander-in-chief, Washington’s most important act as president was his giving up the office. The significance of his retirement from the presidency is easily overlooked today, but his contemporaries knew what it meant. Most people assumed that Washington might be president as long as he lived, that he would be a kind of elected monarch like the king of Poland. Hence his retirement from the presidency enhanced his moral authority and set a precedent for future presidents.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)