By Michael Baadke
Tadeusz Andrzej Bonawentura Kosciuszko (also known as Thaddeus Kosciusko) was born Feb. 4, 1746, in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in a former village now known as Merechevschina, Belarus.
He studied at the Royal Military Academy in Warsaw, Poland, and continued his studies in France. He traveled to America at age 30, joining the American cause in the revolution as a colonel and engineer in the Continental Army.
Kosciuszko was responsible for the strengthening of American fortifications at Saratoga in 1777, West Point beginning in 1778, and other strategic locations. Because of his important contributions to the American victory, he was promoted to brigadier general in 1783 and awarded the Society of the Cincinnati medal by Gen. George Washington.
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Kosciuszko returned to Poland as a veteran freedom fighter and led the 1794 uprising against Imperial Russia and the Kingdom of Prussia. Wounded in the unsuccessful effort, he returned to the United States.
The house where Kosciuszko lived after his return to Philadelphia in 1797 is on the corner of Third and Pine Streets. Today it is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, administered by the National Park Service. It is open during limited hours for part of the year, and is described as the smallest unit of the National Park Service.
A 5¢ blue stamp depicting the statue of Gen. Kosciuszko in Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park (Scott 734) was issued Oct. 13, 1933, in seven cities, including Kosciusko, Miss. The stamp commemorates the 150th anniversary of Kosciuszko’s naturalization as an American citizen.