St. Louis: 1852. Envelope or Cover. This two-page folded letter measures approximately 17” x 10.5” unfolded. It is datelined, “St. Louis March 13th 1852”. It is franked with an orange-brown 3-cent Washington stamp (Scott #10, Type 1 with all around frame line) that has been cancelled with a circular Saint Louis “3” postmark (see ASSC p. 205). It is from D. H. Thomas to David Blodget in Alton, Illinois. In nice shape with splits beginning along a couple of mailing folds and faint arithmetic computations in pencil which should be very easy to erase.
The first half of this letter between friends describes Thomas’s assistance in collecting some debts owed Blodget.
The second half of the letter describes a speech by the famous Hungarian nobleman, deposed president, revolutionary, and champion of freedom, Lajos Kossuth, who captured all of America’s attention when he toured the country making powerful fund-raising speeches in support of Hungarian independence. It is said that upon arrival in New York, Kossuth received a public reception equaled only by those previously bestowed on President Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.
Kossuth's English was perfect, and his oratory spellbinding. Of him, Horace Greeley declared, "Among the orators, patriots, statesmen, exiles, he has, living or dead, no superior." Although Kossuth attracted huge crowds at his speeches, his tour failed to raise anywhere near what he’d expected.
After returning to Europe, he further provoked Austrian royalty while simultaneously alienating himself from other Hungarian expatriates. Kossuth spent most of his remaining years in exile and played no role in creating the dual monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
This letter provides a terrific firsthand account of one of Kossuth’s fund-raising speeches that not only describes his oratorical skills but evidences his difficulty in getting Americans to part with their dollars.
“The famous Hungarian Kossuth is here at present and as he has done elsewhere has created a deal of excitement. I stood in the mud ankle deep yesterday for upwards of an hour to hear him speak and faced a pelting rain too, to hear him speak. You of course have read his speeches and know that they read well and I can testify that the delivery of them is very fine. He’s mannered and graceful in the extreme, his voice rich and deep. His eye full and expressive and his head highly intellectual. I am much pleased with his conduct and deportment and admire his firmness and consistency and certainly wish his cause may be prospered but I have never been able to satisfy myself that to assist him with “material aid” would be altogether right though we all feel bound in humanity to make the cause of the oppressed our own. Hungarian Bonds are freely offered for sale but I have not yet seen any of these, much less, purchased when the auction sales of Books recommence. I shall be on the lookout and should I see anything official that I think likely to please you, I shall procure it, and if you have any special commands, make them known.”. Very good. Item #009866
(For more information, the internet is full of articles about Kossuth.).