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Lajos Kossuth

1802-1894

 

In the late 1840s a series of revolutions broke out across Eastern Europe. The subjects of powerful empires such as Prussia, Russia and Austria rebelled against their government for independence. The Hungarian Lajos Kossuth, who had dedicated his life to freedom and liberty of his country, fought the Austrians to end serfdom and aristocratic rule and to establish the independence of Hungary. [1]

Lajos Kossuth, also known as Louis Kossuth, was born on September 19, 1802 in Monok, Hungary. His family belonged to one of Hungary's poorest noble families. His parents were Lutherans, and though he was not religious, he was brought up in the anti-Hapsburg Protestant traditions of northeastern Hungary. [2] In his early twenties he studied and graduated from a Calvinist law school. Not only did he become a brilliant lawyer, but also an excellent orator, and journalist.

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Kossuth practiced law and served as a junior official in his country from 1824 to 1832. His political career began in 1825, where he served in the Hungarian Diet, or legislature. In 1837, his liberal publications, written in the form of letters to avoid censorship, angered the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy. [3] The exposition of the letters led to his imprisonment with a verdict of high treason.

In 1840, Kossuth was freed from prison by popular demand. The following year, he became the editor of the "Pesti Hirlap," or Pest Journal. The Pest Journal advertised political reform and an independent legislature for Hungary. [4] In 1847, he returned to the Diet to resume his political career. Kossuth continued to spread his liberal ideas and made brilliant speeches demanding a constitution for Hungary. Finally, his campaigns and demands earned Hungary its own separate constitution from Austria. In 1848, after the new government was formed, Kossuth was named the Minster of Finance.

Shortly thereafter, revolution broke out across Europe. On September 28, 1848, after five months of serving as the Minister of Finance, he assumed full control of the revolution in Hungary. He gathered, strengthens and armed his "revolutionary army." Not satisfied with their autonomous constitution, he demanded his country's independence from Austrian rule. In the spring of 1849, Lajos Kossuth rallied against the Hapsburg monarchy. On April 14, 1849, he was named Governor and virtual dictator of the newly declared Hungarian Republic.

The events turned out for the worse after the declaration of the Republic. First, the Hungarians refused to grant concessions to the national minorities. Second, they refused to help the Austrian monarch who implored for their alliance against the Italians. As a result, the Russian imperial forces, allied to the Austrians, declared war on the Hungarian Republic. The Russian armies brought the Hungarian revolution to a quick and bloody end. [5]

After his defeat, Kossuth fled to Turkey. He continued his quest for Hungarian democracy by traveling and giving speeches in the West, where he sought alliances from western countries. He then traveled to the United States where he was honored and welcomed for his dedication to his country. He also visited England where he stayed for 17 years. On March 20, 1894, Lajos Kossuth died in Turin, Italy.  

 


Notes:

[1]. Johnson, Lonnie R., Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, (New York; Oxford University Press, 1996)

[2]. Lengyel, Emil, Lajos Kossuth: Hungary's Great Patriots, (New York; Random House,1969)

[3]. Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia,( Learning Comp. Inc., 1994, 1995, 1996. 1997)

[4]. Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, (Learning Comp. Inc., 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)

[5]. Johnson, Lonnie R., Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, (New York; Oxford University Press, 1996) 

 


Bibliography:

Deak, Istvan, The Lawful Revolution: Louis Kossuth and the Hungarians, 1848-1849 (New York; Uganda Frederick Publishing Company, 1990)

Haraszti, Eva, Kossuth as a Journalist in England, (New York; Thomas Y. Crowell Publishers, 1991)

Johnson, Lonnie R., Central Europe: Enemies, Neighbors, Friends, (New York; Oxford University Press, 1996)

Komlos, John H., Kossuth in America, 1851-1852, (London; Ultimate Publishing CO. Inc., 1973;1987)

Lengyel, Emil, Lajos Kossuth: Hungary's Great Patriot, (New York; Random House, 1969)

Zarek, Otto, Kossuth, Trans Lynton Hudson, (Chicago; Patrick Grace Researchers Inc., 1937; Rep. 1970)

"Lajos Kossuth" The World Book Encyclopedia, (Chicago; World Book-Childcraft International, Inc., 1994)

Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, (Learning Comp. Inc., 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997)

 


Edited by: Ria Parcellano, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
Researched by: Karlo Marcelo and Sameer Zaheerullal, Von Steuben High School, Chicago, IL
Written by: Nicole Mak
13 October 1998

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