Polish History

Toast Revolutionary Hero Tadeusz Kosciuszko with a Concert and Cocktails at Fraunces Tavern on Thursday!

Tadeusz Kosciuszko, via Fraunces Tavern
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, via Fraunces Tavern

It is one thing to be a Revolutionary hero, another to be an architect, or an abolitionist or an accomplished musician. Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who lends his name to the bridge, was all those things and more. According to The Kosciuszko Foundation, the Polish-born American Revolutionary Hero participated in revolutions in Poland, France and the United States. As a Brigadier General in the Continental Army, he created the blueprints for West Point, planned the battle of Saratoga – a major turning point in the war – and fought for the rights of Native Americans and African Americans, even attempting to free Thomas Jefferson’s slaves. He was made an Honorary Citizen of France during the French Revolution, and in Poland, he led an unsuccessful revolution to end feudalism and liberate Poland from foreign control.

New York’s Polish community honored Kosciuszko during this year’s Pulaski Day Parade, and Fraunces Tavern will be celebrating his extraordinary life and legacy on Thursday, 10/26 during their special event, “Kosciuszko: Bridge to Liberty for All.” The event includes after-hours access to the museum’s galleries, a reception, and the program itself, where you can learn about Kosciuszko from Alex Storozynski, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, filmmaker, author, and President Emeritus & Chairman of the Board of The Kosciuszko Foundation. Expect not only some stunning history but also some exceptional tunes, since the evening also features  a piano concert by pianist and harpsichordist Magdalena Baczewska, who will be playing original compositions by Kosciuszko himself! Top it all off with an original cocktail, “’The Kosciuszko Bridge,’ which joins the “spirits” of two nations: Polish Bison Grass Vodka and American gin.” Get tickets here!

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Distant Mirror of Today’s Anti–Immigrant Hysteria

From Th Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 16, 1928
From The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 16, 1928

One big reason we study history is that it repeats itself. The anti-immigrant hysteria being stirred up today is nothing new, especially in Greenpoint. While researching a book on local political boss Peter J. McGuinness (1888-1948) I found an interesting piece of little-known local history.

In 1928 Jim McQuade was desperate to knock McGuinness out of his job as Greenpoint’s Alderman at City Hall. McQuade, looking to attract the votes of the sizeable Polish community and smear McGuinness, publicized the fact that in 1912 McGuinness had been part of a local anti-immigrant group called the “Native Borns.” McQuade claimed that McGuinness was “an active organizer” of the group and that the organization was similar to the Ku Klux Klan. McQuade funded the printing of a letter signed by three locals detailing the activities of the “Native Borns,” which included not patronizing foreign shops, not voting for foreign born candidates and discriminating against foreigners in all ways possible. There were hundreds of members in the area and “Native Borns” even attacked people who spoke foreign languages in the streets. Continue reading

Category: Historical Greenpoint | Tags: , , , , , , | 0 Comments