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kossuth graphic
"All for the People and All by the People;
Nothing About the People Without the People -
That is Democracy!"
Spoken before the Ohio State Legislature,
February 16, 1852

Kossuth (pronounced co-shoot) was Governor of Hungary during fight for independence and democracy which was eventually defeated by the union of the royalist Austrian Habsburg and Russian Czarist Armies (1848 - 1849). Kossuth envisioned a federation in the Kingdom of Hungary in which all nationalties participated in a vibrant democratic system based on fundamental democratic principles such as equality and parliamentary representation.  The bloody conflict eventually led to a partial victory for Hungary - a great compromise known as the "Austro-Hungarian Empire," in which Hungary gained some autonomy. 

The speech from which the above excerpt is taken was given over a decade before Lincoln's famed "for the people, by the people" speech given at Gettysburg in 1863. Kossuth was the first foreign Statesman officially invited to the US since the Marquis de Lafayette.  His upcoming speech in the Congress of the United States made the pre-civil war joint house nervous due to his democratic views on equality of all men. Kossuth learned English while in prison and exile and spoke to half the population of the US who enthusiastically greeted and flocked to hear him. Despite Hungary's epic struggle and Kossuth's brave and noble efforts, the US, the "Bastion of Democracy" turned him away, empty handed.  Hungary was alone again in its fight for democracy in 1956, and didn't gain freedom until 1989. 

Today, there are many reminders of Kossuth's impact on America. There is a Kossuth County in the state of Iowa, a town with his name in Indiana, Ohio and Mississippi, and a settlement with a Kossuth Post Office is in Pennsylvania. In addition, there are three Kossuth statues in the US: New York, Cleveland and Washington. The Hungarian Reformed Federation's building on Dupont Circle, in Washington, DC is called Kossuth House with a memorial plaque commemorating his speech on democracy.
(Thanks to Lászlo Papp for this compilation).

The renowned Ralph Waldo Emerson said in greeting Kossuth on his arrival at Concord, MA, May 11, 1852,

"[we] have been hungry to see the man whose extraordinary eloquence is seconded by the splendor and the solidity of his actions."

Kossuth even spawned a fashion craze (moustache-less beard with TopHat) in the ever trendy US. His statue now sits proudly in the US Capitol - it reads, "Father of Hungarian Democracy"


  • Visit "Lajos Kossuth in North America" for more on this remarkable man. This is an excellent site with numerous photos of Kossuth, as well as background of his life and work and accounts of his visit to North America.

  • One of the most impressive and well-designed sites on the can be found at the Museum of Wolfgang Alexander Kossuth.  His sculptures are world-renowned and simply beautiful!  But is he related?

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