Polish President Lech Kaczynski sat next to President Barack Obama on Sept. 23 at a luncheon in New York where world leaders were gathered for the UN session of the General Assembly.
The Polish Press Agency reported: "During his meeting with Barack Obama, President Kaczynski gave him a copy of Alex Storozynski's book about Thaddeus Kosciuszko."
President Kaczynski expressed his disappointment over Obama's decision to scrap a plan by former President Bush to place a missile shield in Poland. The timing of Obama's announcement upset Poland and Polish Americans because it came on Sept. 17, the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland at the beginning of World War II. Russian troops occupied Poland for the next five decades, and did not withdraw until after the Cold War.
Poles believe that the insensitive timing of this announcement shows that Obama does not understand Poland.
Kaczynski gave Obama a copy of, The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution, with an inscription from the author which said, "To President Obama, May Kosciuszko inspire you to learn more about Poland, the country whose motto is, For Your Freedom and Ours."
The Peasant Prince outlines Kosciuszko's pivotal role in the American Revolution and his efforts to spread that democratic revolution to Europe. In addition to fighting to overthrow the British monarchy in the United States, Kosciuszko championed the rights of black slaves in America, white serfs in feudalistic Europe, Jews, women, Native Americans and all people who were disenfranchised. His motto was, "For your freedom and ours."
Kosciuszko took another American President to task, for owning slaves. Kosciuszko became close friends with Thomas Jefferson, the man who wrote, "All men are created equal." After serving as a General in the American Revolution, Kosciuszko gave his salary of $17,000 from the Continental Army to Jefferson and asked him to buy slaves and free them, and to educate these free black men, and to buy them land, cattle and farming tools so they could earn a living as free "citizens."
While Jefferson took the money - he refused to carry out the deal that he made with Kosciuszko to free slaves.
Unfortunately, most Americans only know Kosciuszko as a brand of mustard, a bridge in Brooklyn, or the town in Mississippi where Oprah Winfrey was born. But he was a true American hero.
Kosciuszko joined the Continental Army in 1776, and after building forts near Philadelphia; he devised the strategy for the Battle of Saratoga - the turning point of the American Revolution.
Kosciuszko also drafted the blueprints for West Point and built the fortress that Benedict Arnold tried to sell to the British.
Jefferson said of Kosciuszko: "He is as pure a son of liberty, as I have ever known, and of that liberty which is to go to all, and not to the few or rich alone."