After our visit to Independence Hall, Tom and I walked the mile to the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial. The memorial is only open Saturdays and Sundays from noon until four, so it has very limited hours.
Visiting the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial was very important to Tom. Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a brilliant military engineer who worked with George Washington in the American Revolution. Kosciuszko was born in 1746 in Poland to an aristocratic family. He attended the Warsaw Military Academy and studied engineering in Paris. Kosciuszko traveled to Philadelphia in 1776, eager to volunteer his military engineering skills to the Continental army. He designed fortifications and trenchworks that allowed American forces to defeat the British in many different places. Eventually Kosciuszko was appointed the Chief Engineer and a Brigadier General for the Continental Army. He traveled all over the new United States to build forts and fortifications that were used during the war.
After the war, when Congress is unable to pay him, Kosciuszko returned to Poland. He was instrumental in getting Poland to adopt a democratic constitution in 1791. Unfortunately, Poland was under control of Russia. Kosciuszko was appointed a General and led the Polish Revolution until the rebels were defeated by the Russian forces. Kosciuszko was imprisoned until the death of Czarina Catherine the Great in 1796. When he was freed, he returned to Philadelphia and lived in the rented rooms that are now the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial.
In 1798, Kosciuszko returned to Europe hoping to convince Napoleon that Poland should be a free and independent country. When the borders for Europe were redrawn after the War of 1812, Kosciuszko was Poland’s representative at the Congress of Vienna. He was disappointed by the borders drawn for Poland and withdrew from public life. Kosciuszko died in 1817 and his remains are buried in Krakow, Poland. He is a well-known national hero in Poland. Thomas Jefferson called him “as pure a Son of Liberty as I have ever known.”
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial is the smallest National Park site: .02 acres. The house that serves as his memorial is one room downstairs and one room upstairs. It contains a few displays about his life, a short film-strip movie, and several portraits. We enjoyed spending some time learning more about this unsung hero of the American Revolution.