Polish Son of Liberty
Born on February 4, 1746
I knew from my school history what Kosciuszko had done for America in its early struggle for independence. I did not know, however, until my attention was called to it in Cracow, what Kosciuszko had done for the freedom and education of my own people.
After his second visit to this country in 1797 Kosciuszko, I learned, made a will in which he bequeathed part of his property in this country in trust to Thomas Jefferson to be used for the purpose of purchasing the freedom of Negro slaves and giving them instruction in the trades and otherwise.
Seven years after his death a school of Negroes, known as the Kosciuszko school, was established in Newark, N.J. The sum left for the benefit of this school amounted to thirteen thousand dollars.
The Polish patriot is buried in the cathedral at Cracow, which is the Westminster Abbey of Poland, and is filled with memorials of the honoured names of that country. Kosciuszko lies in a vault beneath the marble floor of the cathedral. As I looked upon his tomb I thought how small the world is after all, and how curiously interwoven are the interests that bind people together. Here I was in this strange land, farther from my home than I had ever expected to be in my life, and yet I was paying my respects to a man to whom the members of my race owed one of the first permanent schools for them in the United States.
When I visited the tomb of Kosciuszko I placed a rose on it in the name of my race.
I, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, being just on my departure from America, do hereby declare and direct, that, should I make no other testamentary disposition of my property in the United States, I hereby authorize my friend, Thomas Jefferson, to employ the whole thereof in purchasing Negroes from his own or any others, and giving them liberty in my name, in giving them an education in trade or otherwise, and in having them instructed for their new condition in the duties of morality, which may make them good neighbors, good fathers or mothers, husbands or wives in their duties as citizens, teaching them to be defenders of their liberty and country, and of the good order of society, and in whatsoever may make them happy and useful. And I make said Thomas Jefferson my executor of this.
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