With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Who The Heck Is Pulaski?

If you don't walk down Main Street you might not be aware of the statute of Pulaski  which is right next to the Federal Courthouse.  There isn't much in the area, a few feet of concrete, a couple benches, a line of trees, and of course the statute of Pulaski.  The rotary between Main St and Elm St next to Bushnell Park is named Pulaski Circle.  (is it politically correct to ponder on how Hartford's main rotary is named after a Polish hero?) That got us to wondering, who is Pulaski?  Like many other staute man, he has a moustache and rides a horse.  We first checked out the statute itself too see what information we could gather.

Ok. Not surprisingly a Revolutionary era war hero. Don't really see any connection to Hartford here though.  Next we consulted Wikipedia, the second best teacher in the land. Here are some highlights of what we learned.

"Franklin recommended that General George Washington accept Pulaski as a volunteer in the American cavalry and said that Pulaski "was renowned throughout Europe for the courage and bravery he displayed in defense of his country's freedom." After arriving in America, Pulaski wrote to Washington, "I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it."

"The "father of the American cavalry" demanded much of his men and trained them in tested cavalry tactics. He used his own personal finances when money from Congress was scarce, in order to assure his forces of the finest equipment and personal safety. Congress named him "Commander of the Horse"."

"During a cavalry charge, while probing for a weak point in the British lines, Pulaski was wounded. After he was wounded, Pulaski was carried from the field by several comrades, including Col. John C. Cooper, and taken aboard the privateer merchant brigantine Wasp, where he died two days later having never regained consciousness."
"According to several contemporary witnesses, he was buried at sea. Other witnesses however, including Captain Samuel Bulfinch of the Wasp, claimed that the wounded Pulaski was actually later removed from the ship and taken to Greenwich plantation near Savannah, Georgia, where he died and was buried. The alleged remains were later reinterred in Monterey Square in Savannah, Georgia. Remains at Monterey Square alleged to be Pulaski's were exhumed in 1996 and examined in a lengthy forensic study. The eight-year examination ended inconclusively, and the remains were reinterred with military honors in 2004."

Hmmm. Well all that is nice and all, no connection to Hartford or even Connecticut for that matter.  Seems kind of a Sad City thing to do to have a statute of some long dead war hero with no connection to the area right? But wait,  in this story there is redemption for Hartford;
"Pulaski is one of the most honored persons in American history, in terms of places and events named in his honor." "Several cities and counties in US states are named after Pulaski, including the cities of Pulaski, Tennessee and Iowa; counties in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia; as well as villages in Illinois (Mt. Pulaski) and Wisconsin and New York; and many Townships."
But wait, most impressive of all "the United States Congress passed a joint resolution conferring honorary U.S. citizenship on Pulaski in 2009, sending it to the President for approval. President Obama signed the bill on November 6, 2009, making Pulaski the seventh person so honored."
Wow. Ok, that's a pretty impressive honor. I don't know what it actually means to him seeing as it happened well over 100 years after his death, but whatever. Any guesses on the other six to get this honor? Answer at the end of the story. 

The article then goes on to list a bunch of towns that honor Pulaski with a variety of different honors. But guess what???? No mention of Hartford!!! Slighted once again! Damn you Wikipedia!!
So in the course of Sad City we have learned that Wikipedia
1) Slights Hartford on the Pulaski page
2) Slights Sad City on the Hartford page
Our dear Hartford, the Rodney Dangerfield of Wikipedia.

(Via Wikipedia)
The recipients are:
  1. Winston Churchill (1874–1965), British Prime Minister, enacted on April 9, 1963
  2. Raoul Wallenberg (1912–1947), Swedish diplomat who rescued Jews in the holocaust, enacted on October 5, 1981, posthumously.
  3. William Penn (1644–1718), English real estate entrepreneur, and founder and "absolute proprietor" of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, enacted on October 19, 1984, posthumously[5]
  4. Hannah Callowhill Penn (1671–1726), second wife of William Penn, administrator of the Province of Pennsylvania, enacted on October 19, 1984, posthumously[5]
  5. Mother Teresa (1910–1997), Catholic nun of Albanian ethnicity and Indian citizenship, who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India, enacted on October 1, 1996
  6. Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier (1757–1834), the Marquis de Lafayette or General Lafayette, a Frenchman who was an officer in the American Revolutionary War, enacted August 6, 2002, posthumously
  7. Casimir Pulaski (1745–1779), Polish military officer who fought on the side of the American colonists against the British in the American Revolutionary War; member of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth nobility, politician who has been called "The Father of the American Cavalry" enacted on November 6, 2009, posthumously.


  1. Places with a large Polish presence like to honor Casmir Pulaski. As you may know, the Polish National Home is at the other end of Pulaski Mall as well as SS. Cyril and Methodius church. New Britain has a Pulaski Middle School. He's Polish-America's big hero.

    Besides, there's a Sufjan Stevens song about Pulaski Day in Chicago, doesn't everyone know who he is now?

  2. Polish power!!!!!!!

  3. The Hartford Food GuyMay 26, 2011 at 4:00 PM

    Casmir Pulaski was a Polish nobleman who fought for the Continetnal Army in the Revolutionary War. He achieved the rank of General and is given credit for organizing the first American cavalry units and also for saving George Washington's life at the Battle of Bradywine. He was killed in action at the Battle of Savanah in 1779. He is one of only 7 people to be granted honorary US Citizenship.

    As you probably know, Hartford once had a large Polish population that lived in what is now SoDo, Sheldon/Charter Oak, South Green, and to a lesser extent the rest of the South End.

    Pulaksi was one of a nunber of foreigners to fight for us against Britain. The Marquis de Laffayette is the most famous; but there were others who served with great distinction like Pulaski; the Baron von Stueban, who wasn't really a barron, but rather a low-ranking Prussian officer who trained the Contintental Army how to stand and fight in the style of European armies during the terrible winter at Valley Forge; the Baron de Kalb, who really was a German baron and who was killed leading a counterattack at the battle of Camden; Thaddeus Kosciuszko, a Lithuanian engineer who helped build the fortifications that trapped the British at Saratoga and forced their surrender; and the Portuguese born Peter Francisco, who fought with bravery distintion in most of the important battles of the Revolutionary War (despite being wounded on several occasions)including Brandywine, Germantown, Monmouth Courthouse, Cowpens, the bayonet assult on Stony Point, Camden, and Guilford Courthouse.

    These men were all willing to fight for us because they admired greatly the principles underlying the Declaration of Independence.

    With the exception of Lafayette, if they are remembered at all today,it is usually because people of their ethnicity who emigrated to the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries "adopted" them as heroes.

  4. Hartford has also lost another historic building recently:

  5. "I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it."

    That's so sweet - and so Polish....My grandfather immigrated to the US in 1901-ish. He was married with 2 kids when WWI started and he enlisted and became a US Citizen at Ft. Devens in Mass. and was sent to Europe to fight for the US. Why? Because he felt the United States had done so much for him, he wanted to defend his country. He came home, a little worse for wear and he and my grandmother had 3 more children (the youngest being my father).

  6. "Bring me my brown trousers."

  7. With a little more google reasearch, this statue is relatively new being made only in 1976.

    "His sculpture was proposed and paid for by the Hartford-area Polish-American community under the leadership of the Pulaski Memorial Committee of Connecticut.
    The sculptor, Granville W. Carter, depicted Pulaski on a rearing horse signaling a forward charge with a sword in his right hand. Among his other works are the West Texas Pioneer Family Monument in Lubbock, Texas; and archangels Michael and Gabriel at the National Cathedral in Washington."


  8. Close to 300,000 Connecticut residents of Polish descent.A Polish Church, school, Veterans Club and National Home near the area. Pulaski fought for American freedom. No different than having a statue of Washington or LaFayette. Very appropriate.

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