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Lajos Kossuth
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    (September 19, 1802-March 20, 1894)
    Born in Monok, Hungary
    Lawyer/Journalist/Advocate for Hungarian independence from Austria
    Regent-President of the Kingdom of Hungary (April 14-August 11, 1849)
    His full name is the unwieldy Lajos Kossuth de Udvard et Kossuthfalva.
    He ticked off Hungary's many ethnic minorities (Romanians, Croats, Serbs, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, etc.) by demanding that they all use the Hungarian language.
    When Hungary declared its independence during the European Revolutions of 1848-49, he adopted the oddball title Regent-President in an attempt to appeal to both monarchists and republicans.
    He fired and re-hired Hungary's top military leader, Arthur Gorgey, more than once.
    When the Hungarian revolution collapsed following Russian military intervention, he blamed Gorgey for the fiasco and fled the country.
    His trip to Great Britain (1851) indirectly caused the fall of Lord Russell's government by creating a dispute between Queen Victoria and Foreign Minister Lord Palmerston over how much official recognition Kossuth should be granted.
    When he visited the US and attracted huge crowds, Queen Victoria commented, 'They see a second Washington, when the fact is that he is an ambitious and rapacious humbug.'
    He bitterly denounced any veterans of the 1848-49 revolt who approved of the 1867 compromise that created the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
    Many statues of him erected in cities that Hungary lost control of after World War I were torn down by the new governments.
    He was a compelling orator.
    He was imprisoned three years for 'subversion' for distributing pamphlets describing proceedings in the national parliament (1837-40).
    While in prison, he learned English by studying the plays of Shakespeare.
    He became the second foreigner, after the Marquis de Lafayette, to address a joint session of the US Congress.
    An Edison cylinder made in 1890 of him delivering a short patriotic speech is the oldest known recording in the Hungarian language.
    His bust is on display in the US Capitol in a 'Freedom Foyer' alongside busts of Winston Churchill and Vaclav Havel.

Credit: C. Fishel

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