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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Racial prejudice worked to perpetuate American slavery, even if it was not essential to sustain the institution. Slavery, serfdom, and peonage had existed elsewhere without racial connotations. Indeed, bondage had been so historically ubiquitous one might well ask why, by the 1760’s, it had come to trouble so many white Americans so much. The answer lies in part — and this part help explain why people like Mason did not act more aggressively on their concerns — in the reservations many whites felt about living alongside members of a supposedly inferior race, whether slave or free. The problem was inherent in American slavery, and emancipation, by undermining white control, would only make it worse.

Jeff Broadwater
George Mason: Forgotten Founder (2006)