Polish freedom fighter's letter to Jefferson sold at auction
PR dla Zagranicy
A letter from Polish revolutionary Tadeusz Kościuszko to US president Thomas Jefferson has been sold at an auction in Kraków, southern Poland.
A private collector from Poland, who took part in the bidding over the phone, bought the letter for 54, 000 zlotys (about 14, 000 euro).
Kościuszko lead the 1794 uprising against the Russian partition of Poland and fought in the American Revolutionary War.
Jefferson met Kosciuszko in 1797, when the Pole returned to the United States after being imprisoned by the Russians, who had crushed the Polish Insurrection that he led.
Jefferson served as vice president at the time. They immediately became friends.
Their correspondence numbers 41 letters, all of which are kept in public institutions, libraries and associations, mainly in the United States.
The auctioned letter is written in French on thin cream paper and is dated ‘Paris 15 Mai 1814.
On the reverse, it contains Jefferson’s note: ‘Kosciuszko. Paris May 15th, rec'd Oct. 12’.
The letter begins with the words ‘Mon Cher Ami...’ and contains Kościuszko’s request for the money from the so-called ‘American fund’ to be forwarded to him.
The ‘American fund’ constituted the payment which Kosciuszko received in 1798 from the United States government for his services in the Continental Army in the years 1776-83.
Jefferson helped the Pole claim the payment and had agreed to serve as his friend's executor. He also aided Kosciuszko in obtaining a passport under another name, so that he could secretly leave the country for France in the spring of 1798.
Kosciuszko wanted to return to Europe to help organize Polish emigres to fight for a reunited Polish state. (mk/pg)