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Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:11:51 EST by admin, 100334 views
Library of Congress
History paper by Nyírádi, Kenneth (all papers)
Kossuth in Washington: a Closer Look
Lajos Kossuth came to the United States in December 1851 aiming to enlist the support of the United States government in continuing the struggle against the Habsburg Empire, which had, with the help of Russia, defeated the Hungarians in August 1849. His tumultuous reception in New York City, where hundreds of thousands came out to see him along the procession route, and thousands came to hear him speak at various venues, undoubtedly led him to believe that official support for Hungary was forthcoming. And the scene in New York was repeated—albeit on a smaller scale—in Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Washington DC was another story altogether. Although popular literature emphasizes that while in Washington Kossuth received the high honors of meeting the President and receiving an official introduction to Congress (an honor no foreigner had received up to that point, save the Marquis de Lafayette), his stay in the capital turned out to be string of disappointments. The United States government had no intention of abandoning its traditional foreign policy of neutrality and risking a war with Austria and Russia. Kossuth’s opponents in Congress dragged out the debate for over a month over whether to officially greet him, and then how to greet him. At his meeting with President Millard Fillmore, Kossuth was told rather curtly that, personal sympathies notwithstanding, no official aid to Hungary would be forthcoming. Even Kossuth’s much anticipated meeting with Henry Clay, the most revered and influential voice in the Senate, was disappointing as Clay lectured Kossuth on how quixotic it would be for the United States to become involved in a European war. In summary, Kossuth found much sympathy in Washington but no official aid. Consequently, he devoted the remainder of his time in the United States raising money for the cause from private donations.
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