For many years on March 15th, Hungarian Independence Day has been celebrated on Riverside Drive at the monument to patriot Lajos Kossuth (1802-94). The bronze tableau portrays a vignette of the struggle for Hungarian independence in 1848. Atop a pedestal of Milford pink granite, a larger-than-life figure of Kossuth motions to
Kossuth was born to a family of noble heritage in Monok in northeastern Hungary. In the early 1830s, he emerged as a leader of the country’s radical reform movement. Trained as a lawyer, Kossuth edited several journals and newspapers that allowed him to broadcast his increasingly popular ideas. He issued fiery pleas for Hungary’s independence from Vienna’s Hapsburg Monarchy, for emancipation of the peasants, and for industrial development. Kossuth was elected to the Hungarian Diet (national assembly) in 1847, and a year later he led the revolution that created a new national government for Hungary.
The new government fell to invading Russian and Austrian armies in 1849, and Kossuth fled into exile. Rallying support for Hungarian independence, he dazzled European and American audiences with his eloquence. Sympathizers in the United States identified with the aims of overthrowing the foreign monarchy and establishing republican government for Hungary.