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II. THE CIVIL WAR ERA (1851-1870)

A. Kossuth in America

       The Hungarian War of Independence of 1848 was dramatic and courageous. Through asserting her independence, Hungary gained the respect and admiration of many nations of the world. The United States, in particular, observed the developments with anticipation. The American people felt that Hungary's struggle with Austria was similar to the one they had experienced with England in 1776. Unable to send military aid, the United States sent support and encouragement. In June of 1849, President Zachary Taylor appointed Ambrose Dudley Mann, a special confidential agent, to convey the United States' recognition of the Hungarian Revolutionary Government.

       After Hungary's defeat by the combined forces of Austria and Russia, the United States again showed its sympathy for the Hungarian cause. In 1851, President Fillmore, empowered by the Senate and the House of Representatives, sent an American warship to Turkey to bring Louis Kossuth and his followers to the United States. The U.S.S. Mississippi brought the exiled governor of Hungary along with the other Hungarian emigrés from Turkey to England, where Kossuth made a stopover, sending the rest of the emigrés on to America. Kossuth's visit in England was brief, he soon departed for the United States aboard the Humboldt, and arrived in New York on December 4, 1851.

       Kossuth felt that in America, popular sentiment would be with the Hungarian cause. He came with the intention of gaining support, both financial and political, for a renewed effort to liberate Hungary from Austria. Kossuth's efforts were twofold: to collect money for munitions and arms and to obtain support and acceptance of his famous "intervention for non-intervention principle."

 

What he aspired to accomplish was to induce the American nation to declare through Congress, that, in case a foreign government attempted to prevent a nation by force of arms from exercising its right of self-determination (as was done by Russia in the struggle of Hungary against Austria), the American Government would inter-vene to prevent or stop such unlawful intervention.12

 

       Popular sentiment in the United States was with Kossuth. He was given a hero's welcome and everywhere he went large crowds gathered to hear the "Washington of Hungary." Kossuth spoke English well; he learned it, while imprisoned by the Austrians, from an English translation of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare. As a result of his training, he often surprised his audiences with a remarkable use of archaic English words and grammar.

       In New York, it was estimated that over 200,000 people crowded into the streets to welcome the governor of Hungary:

 

So dense was the multitude in Broadway, and so great was the pressure, that thousands upon thousands were forced out of the procession into the side-streets, and parallel streams of human beings rushed up... in order to get a little ahead, so as to obtain a sight of the procession. For the entire route of the procession through the Bowery, the people filled every available spot long before the procession started. All along the line of march, and indeed throughout the city generally, business was suspended, and the whole demonstration was one of the greatest, most important, and most enthusiastic ever given.13

 

       During his stay in New York City, Kossuth was invited to speak at such places as the Irving House, Tammany Hall and Plymouth Church. He addressed numerous groups, including the Press Banquet, the New York State Militia and the Ladies of New York.

       In Washington, Kossuth was invited to the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate. He was requested to address the House of Representatives, an honor bestowed previously only on General Lafayette in 1824.

 


 

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Cover of the around the time Kossuth's visit 1852

 

Louis Kossuth' Trip Through The United States

 


 

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       Kossuth visited sixteen states and countless cities and towns in the United States (see map). Everywhere he went, throngs of people gathered to see and hear the "Champion of Liberty." He addressed the state legislatures of Maryland, Ohio, Indiana and Massachusetts. Even in the South, where Kossuth was mistrusted by southern slave holders for his speeches on human rights and liberty, he was received and applauded by thousands.

       Kossuth inspired many American and English poets with his campaign for human rights and devotion to the cause of freedom. Those who wrote about him included poets such as Arnold, Elizabeth Browning, Garrison, Lowell, Massey, Whittier and such writers as Bryant and Longfellow. In Concord, Massachusetts, Ralph Waldo Emerson greeted Kossuth:

 

We only see in you the angel of freedom; crossing sea and land; crossing prairies; nationalities, private interests and self-esteems; dividing populations, where you go, and drawing to your part only the good. We are afraid you are growing popular, sir; you may be called to the dangers of prosperity. But hitherto you have had, in all countries and in all parties, only the men of heart.14

 

       Over 250 poems were written about Kossuth by amateur poets, which were printed in local newspapers throughout the United States during his visit. In Boston, slogans such as "Washington and Kossuth-the Occident and the Orient" and "Washington, the Friend of Liberty; Kossuth, the Foe of Despotism" were written on banners and displayed at rallies, banquets and meetings held in his honor.15 Hundreds of editorials and pamphlets were written about him, and Kossuth cards, Kossuth satin badges and Kossuth prints were sold wherever he went. His popularity grew to such extent that the production and selling of Kossuth souvenirs became quite profitable. Enterprising businessmen used Kossuth's name in their advertisements, one example of many was the advertisement of a New York photographer:

 

KOSSUTH TAKEN-what the Austrians could not do, Root & Co., No. 363 Broadway, have done, for on Friday, they succeeded in capturing the illustrious hero in his carriage on Staten Island.16

 


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