Kosciuszko at the Fraunces Tavern Museum

Fraunces Tavern Museum (Photo by Magdalena Mazurek via Nowy Dziennik)

Young American lawyers and their mentors will meet at the historical spot of the Fraunces Tavern Museum to discuss the testament of Thaddeus Kosciuszko, listen to the music composed by this Polish-American hero and raise a toast with the Kosciuszko Bridge cocktail. 

The event entitled “Kosciuszko: Bridge to Liberty for All” is scheduled for Oct. 26 at 6 p.m. at the Fraunces Tavern Museum (54 Pearl St.) in Lower Manhattan. This is yet another event organized by the Polish Cultural Institute to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the death of this famous Polish-American fighter for freedom, and to mark the Year of Kosciuszko as proclaimed by the UNESCO.

The goal of the event is to highlight the efforts by this Polish-American hero who wanted to abolish slavery in the U.S. These efforts were, at the same time, part of Kosciuszko’s lifelong philosophy, which was infused with the values of freedom and equality. His philosophy is clearly reflected in his last will. In his testament, he directed that his fortune be spent on buying freedom for slaves and providing them with an education and a source of income so that they would be able to live decent lives.

At the Oct. 26 event Kosciuszko’s testament will be discussed in detail by professor Paul Finkelman from Albany Law School, an expert on the history of law, author of a number of publications on slavery, religious freedom and the Civil War, including “Slavery and Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson” (2014) and “Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court,” to be released in 2018.

The life of the Polish-American hero will be discussed by Alex Storozynski, author of “The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution” and director of the film “Kosciuszko: A Man Ahead of His Time.”

During a mini concert to be performed by Magdalena Baczewska, director of the music performance program at Columbia University, the guests of the evening will have a chance to hear music composed by Kosciuszko.

The Fraunces Tavern was not a random choice for the event. It is where, on Dec. 4, 1783, Gen. George Washington gathered the soldiers of the Continental Army for a farewell meeting. On that day Kosciuszko received a Society of Cincinnati ring from George Washington.

The museum that is now housed at the Fraunces Tavern has on display many memorabilia from the War of Independence. The most current exhibition “Confidential: The American Revolution’s Agents of Espionage” presents, among others, a portrait of Haym M. Salomon, a Polish Jew who supported Kosciuszko and helped many other American revolutionary war fighters.

In preparation for this event the Polish Culture Institute worked with the Historical Society of the New York Courts, which indicates that not only Polish Americans are interested in the life and accomplishments of Thaddeus Kosciuszko. The event guest list includes at least three federal judges and a number of young lawyers who will join the event as part of the “Young Lawyers Series: Cocktails & Commentary.”

At the end of the evening the guests will be served a cocktail called the Kosciuszko Bridge promoted by the Polish Cultural Institute. The cocktail is made of the famous Polish grass vodka Zubrowka, which symbolizes Raclawice, a site of a major battle in the Kosciuszko Uprising against Russia, and of American gin, which stands for Saratoga, a site of the battle in 1777, a turning point in the American Revolution, in which Kosciuszko, a skilled engineer, masterminded the British defeat and American victory.

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