March 11, 2011 — Thomas Jefferson called his Polish friend, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, "the purest son of Liberty." Dariusz Tolczyk, an associate professor of Slavic language and literature in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences, will give a talk March 25 about this great but little-known friendship.
The lecture, "Created Equal: How a Polish General Tried to Liberate Thomas Jefferson's Slaves" will begin at 2 p.m. in the Byrd Morris seminar room in the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
Kosciuszko distinguished himself as a military commander fighting on behalf of the Colonials in the American Revolutionary War and, in 1794, became the leader of a national uprising in Poland. In his will, Kosciuszko bequeathed a large sum of money for the purpose of liberating and educating African-American slaves. He named Jefferson the executor of his will and suggested that he start by buying freedom and education for his own slaves at Monticello. In his talk, Tolczyk will address how Jefferson responded.
Materials related to Kosciuszko and Jefferson, including Kosciuszko's original will and an engraving of Jefferson after a drawing by Kosciuszko, are on display in the library's main gallery exhibition, "Global Collections at the U.Va. Library: Engaging the World."
The talk is an "Original Sources" program sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost of International Programs, the U.Va. Library, Harrison Institute and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.