Sunday, April 30, 2017
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History XVI - XVIII

Lincoln Ignored Poles, Feted The Czar (Tsar)

Historians routinely rate Abraham Lincoln our greatest president, a secular saint who could do no wrong. But like most politicians, he did what was politically expedient. Such was the case involving the Polish insurrection of 1863 against Russia.

Lincoln, of course, was president during the American Civil War and one area of importance to him was that of foreign relations. Regarding countries that mattered, Britain and France favored the South, and Russia was considered a staunch supporter of the North. These alliances were critical, for if any one of those countries overtly supported the Confederacy with supplies and money the Union might be doomed.

In Europe at the time, Britain and France were aligned against Russia and the latter enjoyed excellent relations with the U.S., a far cry from the 1830s when Russia was excoriated by the American press and public for its treatment of the Polish insurrectionists. In the 1860s Russia was looked upon by Americans as comparable to the U.S., largely because Czar Alexander II was considered to be a liberal reformer. He had freed the Russian serfs in 1861 (but not Polish serfs) and made other progressive reforms. Both countries were also thought of as vibrant, expanding empires.

Read more: Lincoln Ignored Poles, Feted The Czar (Tsar)


John Adams and Poland's Affairs


John Adams, the first vice president of the United States, second president and illustrious Founding Father, was one of the great political thinkers in history.

John AdamsAfter American independence was achieved, and the federal Articles of Confederation showed their weaknesses, Adams became a supporter of a new federal charter, or constitution, for the United States. In 1787 he wrote and had published a collection of essays in support of revamping the federal government. Entitled A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States of America, the book argued in support of a strong chief executive, a sovereign and superior bicameral legislature, and a system of checks and balances to control any possible dangerous concentration of power.

Adams’ book brought up examples of historical attempts at democracies and republics, including those of Greece, Rome, England and Poland. He devoted two chapters to Poland, using its example as a nation threatened by its neighbors with little freedom for the common man due to its weak central government. He showed himself to be well educated as to the current situation in that country and in its history.

Read more: John Adams and Poland's Affairs


Gold in Poland - How much Gold is there in Goldwasser?

Gold wasserDid you know that in the second half of 16th century gold mines on the territory of today Poland produced 8% of European gold? Today there is a gold mine - museum there - in Zloty Stock (meaning Golden Slope), Southwestern Poland. The only Polish gold mine which still brings a profit! It is owned by Elzbieta Szumska, a brave, energetic and young woman who invested lots of money from bank credits to re-open it. After five years of reconstructions, on 28th May 1996 the Underground Tourist Route „Gold Mine" was opened and is ready for business. Now, if you ever were in this area sign for 90 minutes tour which would show you many shafts working there since medieval times. The tour includes also narrow gauge ride. This gold mine was still active after World War II, but it produced only 20-30 kilograms of gold per year, that means a couple of ounces per day.

Read more: Gold in Poland - How much Gold is there in Goldwasser?


“The Peasant Prince” Author - Alex Storozynski - Arrives at Polish Embassy

     Washington, D.C. // The intriguing question of "So just who was Thaddeus Kosciuszko anyway?" has now been definitively answered by author Alex Storozynski into the foreseeable future. He rediscovered the heroic and tragic story of a great Polish and American revolutionary patriot who bravely answered the clarion call to arms for freedoms' fight on two continents.

Storozynski - polish prince

 Kosciuszko Book Generates Great Interest. Alex Storozynski (pictured above seated at right) is the author of a new book entitled "The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Revolution." Storozynski is speaking to, and signing his book for, Zuzanna Falzmann - Washington Correspondent for Poland's POLSAT News TV.   

   Storozynski's book - The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and The Age of Revolution - unearths many previously unknown important details and historical facts that enlightens, and even delights, the reader delving into Kosciuszko's amazing life.

Read more: “The Peasant Prince” Author - Alex Storozynski - Arrives at Polish Embassy


Polish Courland

The territory of today's Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - played an important role in the history of Poland. In the fourteenth century Poland and Lithuania united in a commonwealth, with Poland the dominant partner. Eventually, this extended Polish territory to the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. North of Lithuania along the Baltic lay a collection of principalities and duchies with names such as Esthonia, Livonia, Semigallia, Samogitia and Kurlandia.

The Balts who originally settled these lands were caught in the middle of rivalries among strong area powers: Prussia, Sweden, Russia, Poland and to a lesser extent Denmark. The German Prussians settled in cities along the coast and in manors inland, subjugating the native peasants. Russia pushed from the east, eager for a window on the Baltic. Sweden wanted to expand southward and Poland northward. The prizes were excellent ports and harbors, great natural resources, and control of the Baltic Sea.

Livonia, ruled by ethnic Germans of the Livonian Order of Knights and comprising what is now Latvia and southern Estonia, was constantly threatened by invading barbarous Muscovites. Grand Master Gothard Kettler secured the protection of Poland against the Russians by agreeing to become a vassal under the Polish crown in 1561. King Zygmunt promised Kettler autonomous control of the southern third of Livonia, creating the Duchy of Courland (Polish: Kurlandia). It was to remain a part of the Kingdom of Poland until the latter's final partition in 1795. At one point, it would count among its military guards a young Kazimierz Pułaski.

CourlandWhile nominally a part of Poland, the Duchy's ties to the Kingdom were very loose. The Poles wrote and imposed a constitution and a set of statutes on Courland. But the Duchy retained the right of neutrality. It was not forced to supply soldiers for Polish wars. It did not pay taxes to the crown. And the Duke was not personally subordinated to the Polish King.

Read more: Polish Courland


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