Lajos Kossuth, “On Nationalities” [Speech at the Banquet of the Press, New York, 1852.]

Lajos Kossuth was a Hungarian nobleman, lawyer, journalist, politician, and the Governor-President of Hungary. Kossuth was born in Monok, Hungary. His father who belonged to the lower nobility was a lawyer by profession. His mother was born to a Lutheran family. Kossuth and his family acquired the rank of nobility in 1263 from King Béla IV. Kossuth spoke English and gave several powerful speeches in England and the United States. I think Kossuth was biased towards the Hungarian people and was against the Austrian rule. Kossuth was anti-absolutists and hated the Austrian centralism. Kossuth believed that Austria’s dictator rule was affecting Hungary negatively by dividing it. For example, he said in his speech, “…misrepresentation to say that the Hungarians struggled for the dominion of their own race. No; we struggled…against Austrian despotism. We struggled for the great principle of self-government against centralization; because centralization is absolutism; and is inconsistent with constitutional rights.” Since Kossuth’s mother was a protestant Christian, he was raised on the ideas of independence and freedom. He wanted Hungary to have a united people who spoke different languages like in the US: “…in the US, there are many people who speak, French, German, Danish, and Italian and still considered a nation.”

The point of the speech to the US Congress was to advocate for Hungary and other nations in their struggle against Austria’s absolutism rule. As a journalist, Kossuth could not share the truth through the press and on May 4, 1837, he was arrested and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for subversion. He was released under an amnesty in 1840. Kossuth believed that the US had a true free independent press, unlike Britain and France whose press did not have “common benefit to all but a particular benefit that is a privilege” for the wealthy people. Therefore, he treated the US press as a model for every other country. Furthermore, Kossuth thought that the most glorious monument in the United States was the “popular education” and he wanted the US Congress to save the nationality of the Hungarian people that had been misrepresented and became in hand of absolutism. Kossuth did convince me that Hungary was being treated unfairly by the Austrian rule, especially after the Russian invasion. I think he did have a lot of credibility since he was a very educated speaker who loved his country and supported freedom of speech. Also, he was very well respected in Britain and the US. Since this speech was for the press in New York, his audience was mainly American journalists. I think he was trying to appeal to the American audience. I do not think he was trying to hurt the British government in any way since he was respected by them. He reminded me of Chief Ross since both of them asked for help from the Congress and this shows how the US back then was in a very powerful position and represented the ideas of nationality and freedom.