Abstract

When Tadeusz Kościuszko returned to the United States in 1797, serious political divisions divided the nation, war threatened between the U.S. and France, and the wars of the French Revolution had Europe in turmoil. Each of these circumstances shaped his brief stay in America and his eventual return to Europe. This article examines the domestic political factionalism that led Thomas Jefferson, then vice president of the United States, to enlist Kościuszko as a secret agent, behind the back of President John Adams, to assist in negotiating a rapprochement with France. It also explores how the Pole’s continuing goal of supporting the independence of his homeland intersected with international relations in Europe at the time to facilitate his mission. Finally, it proposes answers as to the nature of the arguments Kościuszko made on behalf of the United States and presents evidence from primary sources that support the Pole’s role in defusing U.S.-French tensions.

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