Thaddeus Kosciusko (pronounced KOO-chus-co) was freedom fighter, a colonel in the Continental Army, and close friend of Thomas Jefferson. He became an American citizen, and several cities and counties in the U.S are named in his honor.
Trained as an engineer at the Royal Military Academy in Warsaw, he came from France to help the struggling American Army. He fortified Philadelphia and was later assigned to Fort Ticonderoga. He was key to the victory at Saratoga, the first for the Americans, and a major turning point in the war.
George Washington tasked him with the defense of West Point, a key stronghold for the struggling nation. Kosciuszko’s brilliant defensive plan proved so effective that the British feared attacking. It was his plans that Benedict Arnold tried to pass to the British when he turned traitor.
When he returned to Poland, Kosciuszko gave his cloak, with a large, fur collar, to Thomas Jefferson as a token of their friendship. Jefferson reportedly wore it in the famous painting of our third president by Rembrandt Peale.
Thomas Jefferson wrote of Kosciuszko, “He is as pure a son of liberty as I have ever known.”