The Insurrection of 1863


Alexander II, who became czar on the death of Nicholas I in 1855, appeared a distinct improvement over his father. He was one of the few czars who not only came to power without a successional crisis but one who systematically was prepared to rule.[1] Like his namesake, the new czar launched a refreshing series of reforms throughout the empire, liberal in spirit but often enforced by heavy autocratic means. Ignoring public opinion in Russia, Alexander II substantially relaxed repression in Polish Russia. Military recruitment was suspended, limited foreign travel was allowed, amnesty declared for political prisoners, police activity curtailed, and a medical school opened in Warsaw.[2] In fact no other Russia ruler − Muscovite, Imperial, or Soviet can claim a comparably benevolent record, a fact that did not mollify his detractors on the extreme left and right.

The new atmosphere in Russian-controlled Eastern Europe was referred to as "the Thaw", representing a slow warming of the glacially cool Polish-Russian relations. Yet, Alexander II was a realist who never intended that Poles get the impression that national liberation was an option. On his first visit to the kingdom, the czar told the assembled Poles, "No daydreaming, gentlemen!"[5]

In 1858 the czar permitted the formation of an "Agricultural Society" under the direction of Count Andrzej Zamoyski, the largest private landowner in the kingdom. The society initially addressed agricultural reform, but as the only sanctioned public organization, the discussions inevitably involved broad social issues. The society rapidly expanded to include over four thousand members and seventy-seven widely dispersed chapters. Zamoyski became the unofficial spokesman for Poles in the kingdom, whose views on reform were seriously considered in St. Petersburg.[6]

The Agricultural Society evolved into an informal Sejm providing an outlet for public discussions denied since before the 1830 Insurrection. Its formation was considered an open invitation to discuss the key issue of agrarian reform, particularly the abolition of the corvee, which required serfs to provide unpaid labor on their master's property.

The new Russian attitude did not have the desired effect; in fact just the opposite. One of the conundrums of human nature is that while repression inflames patriotic passions, concessions only encourage them. Having lifted restrictions on publications, Polish lands were flooded with Romantic literature and revolutionary propaganda which incited a younger generation of Poles who never having experienced violent repression in the aftermath of a failed uprising openly clamored for national liberation. Patriotic songs, like the "Anthem of the Polish Legions in Italy" and "God protect Poland", were frequently sung in churches or during mass demonstrations.[7] Instead of expressing appreciation for improvements in the Kingdom, Poles pointed out the obvious flaws that remained. Censorship still was strictly enforced. With the educational system in ruins, illiteracy was widespread which was the objective of the previous administration. Russian persecution of the Roman Church was still official policy, which only enhanced the connection between Polish patriotism and Catholicism. But the real source of angst concerned the peasant question.

Alexander II recognized that the peasants were sorely mistreated and feared that the all too common local riots throughout the Russian Empire might develop into a general revolt. In 1856 he stated that, "it is better to abolish serfdom from above than to wait for it to abolish itself from below", and began contemplating the complex issue of how to liberate what were in effect agrarian slaves.[8] The Imperial decree emancipating the serfs in the Russian Empire was issued on March 3, 1861, almost two years before the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States and affecting a much larger group of people.[9] Like the American Proclamation, which only freed slaves in states under rebellion, the Czar's emancipation was conditional.[10] It did not completely eliminate the antiquated corvee, which was provisionally extended for two years, and did not grant the peasant's full property rights as some collective ownership in the communes was maintained.[11] The decree was nonetheless admirable and represented clear progress; it is widely recognized as the most important humanitarian reform in Russian history.[12]

The czar's magnanimity only served to embolden the Poles. The Agricultural Society used the occasion to demand further concessions, demanding that all lease-holding peasants in the Kingdom be granted full property rights. In fact, by this time much of the peasant reform was already accomplished through voluntary concessions by Polish landowners, but both the Czar and the Polish intelligentsia agitating for rebellion wished to claim credit for freeing the peasants.[13] The contest required both sides to continually try to "one up" each other in their profession of concern for the lower classes.

The czar, desperate to find a peaceful solution to growing Polish unrest and perplexed that his conciliatory policies only caused further unrest, appointed Polish aristocrat Count Alexander Wielopolski as Commissioner of Justice in April of 1861. The Count consistently advocated liberal reforms in Poland but remained a loyal subject of Russia who intended to keep the Poles under the suzerainty of the Czar. Wielopolski participated in the 1830 Insurrection, but became convinced of the necessity of Russian rule after his bitter experience in the Galician jacquerie of 1846.[14] He hoped to return the Russian partitions to the principles of the Congress Kingdom, an autonomous constitutional Polish State in personal union with the Czar. Wielopolski and Zamoyski vied for leadership of Polish reform efforts as the Kingdom veered towards revolution. Most of the insurrectional energy was provided by underground organizations comprised of students, many of them at the newly opened Medical Academy, whose idealistic and emotional élan was largely unconstrained by first-hand knowledge of Russian brutality. These children playing with fire were never burnt.

The 1861 annual meeting of the Agricultural Society took place in Warsaw in February amidst an atmosphere of excited expectation. The agenda included a discussion of the burning issues of the day, land reform and Polish autonomy. On February 25th a large crowd, which gathered nearby to commemorate the anniversary of the 1831 Battle of Grochow, learned that the Society, upon the recommendation of Zamoyski, were considering adopting a compromise solution to the issues. The disappointed patriots loudly protested within clear earshot of the deliberating body. Concerned that the agitation would disrupt the proceedings of the conference, Zamoyski called for the military protection of Russian troops.

The juxtaposition of a volatile crowd and armed soldiers was not a good idea. Two days later Polish provocateurs succeeded in agitating the crowd sufficiently to provoke a response from the authorities, the goal of all civil disobedience. The Poles were fired upon by Russian troops. Five Poles were killed, including two members of the Agricultural Society who were observing the demonstration. The violence threatened to spread until the local authorities wisely decided to withdrawal the troops and allow the protesters to present their grievances to the Czar via a petition, in which the Poles determined to not demand but refused to beg for their civil rights. Although the first impulse of the Czar was to reject the petition and launch reprisals, his advisors convinced him to be lenient and at least appear to consider the demands. Part of this reasonableness was prompted by Russia's ongoing attempt to reestablish good relations with France and the desire to progress with internal Russian reforms, both which would be disrupted by revolution in Poland.

To make his policies more palatable, Alexander II needed an indigenous representative whom the Poles respected. Initially the czar hoped to use Zamoyski as his intermediary in Poland, however, the stigma of collaboration with Russia caused by Zamoyski's compromised political solutions and his request for Russian military assistance made the Polish leader reluctant to damage his reputation further. Zamoyski refused to cooperate and was exiled for his insolence. Alexander II next turned to Wielopolski, who was more aligned with Russian policy initially to calm the situation.

Wielopolski was allowed reforms that were designed to appease the Poles, as long as the policies were based on conservative principles that recognized the mutual superiority of the Russian and Polish proprietary class.[15] He created a Ministry of Education and Religious Cult, which he chaired, to facilitate the rejuvenation of the pathetic Polish educational system. Poles were now appointed to administrative positions in large numbers, to the consternation of long time Russian office holders. In hopes of diffusing the volatile situation, on April 6, 1861, Wielopolski ordered the Agricultural Society disbanded, but by now Polish revolutionary zeal was hard to contain.

On April 8, 1861, a huge crowd gathered in Castle Square in Warsaw to demonstrate against the closure of the Society. Unfortunately an order to peacefully disperse the assemblage was misunderstood, and several of the protesters, including unarmed women and children quietly praying on their knees, were killed by desultory volleys unleashed by the confused Russian soldiers. Wielopolski gained the respect of both sides when he stopped the massacre at great personal risk by standing between the Cossacks and the civilian crowd. Nonetheless over one hundred Poles died in the confrontation. Collaboration with the czar was thoroughly discredited by the slaughter while women in Warsaw wore black for the next two years, when they had greater calamities to mourn.[16]

By October 1861, a state of emergency was declared. Patriotic hymns were banned as were all public gatherings. Poles attempted to circumvent the order by attending mass patriotic rallies in their churches that were only thinly disguised as religious ceremonies. The czar clearly had a tiger by the tail − he could neither retract many of his liberal policies for fear of even greater backlash nor could he not increase repression for the same reason.[17]

On October 15, 1861, the emotionally charged anniversary of Kosciusko's death, church-goers were subjected to harassment by the Russian authorities who claimed they were searching for conspirators in the congregation. In many cases Poles who expressed patriotic sentiments were arrested immediately after leaving church, often identified by chalkmarks placed on their shoulders by Tsarist spies attending mass.[18] The violation of the sanctity of the church particularly offended Polish pride. On November 11th, large boisterous crowds attended church, defying the Russian authorities who warned against any excessive displays. Hearing the Poles defiantly singing patriotic songs, Russian troops surrounded two of the largest churches in Warsaw and arrested thousands of worshippers, who were marched to the musty cells of the Citadel. In protest, churches of all denominations ordered their doors closed until further notice.[19] The Russians made a bad situation worse when they arrested the bishops, priests, and rabbis that were responsible for the closure and deported them to Russia, unwittingly creating another cadre of martyrs.[20] The incident was similar to the treatment of prominent Poles, including a bishop, during the Sejm of 1767 with similar consequences.

Polish politics under the conciliatory programs of Alexander II counter-intuitively became increasingly radicalized by the all too familiar cycle of protest and arrest. By late 1861, conspiratorial organizations called the "Reds" and "Whites", loosely patterned after the defunct Democratic Society and the Czartoryski-led constitutionalists, began planning for revolution in earnest. The groups were encouraged by Russia's relative military weakness as demonstrated in the Crimean War and by Italy's recent unification. Czartoryski did not participate in the discussions as the great statesman died at age ninety-one in July of that year, although his son Wladyslaw was actively involved in diplomatic missions associated with the uprising.[21]

Meanwhile, a small but significant circle of Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian officers philosophically aligned with the Poles and opposed to Czarist autocracy, formed a secret revolutionary organization within the Imperial Army. Led by Captain Jaroslaw Dabrowski (1836-1871), the group even conspired to stockpile arms and munitions purchased clandestinely from France to assist in the pending revolution.[22] Unfortunately many of the officers involved in the plot were reassigned outside of the Kingdom before the revolution began.

Dissatisfied by conditions in Poland, in December of 1861, an irate Alexander summoned Wielopolski to St. Petersburg. After a heated discussion, Wielopolski convinced the Czar to give peaceful solutions another chance. In June of 1862, Wielopolski was named the formal head of Civil Administration in the Kingdom, where he instituted another series of what the Czar deemed generous reforms.[23] Of course, Wielopolski was still an agent of tsarist autocracy who made no attempt to gain the concurrence of Polish public opinion or was reluctant to implement his reforms with repressive means.[24] Nonetheless the changes were not insignificant. Wielopolski made meaningful progress towards assuring equality before the law, including the controversial granting of civil rights to the Jews. He established an expanded system of schools, mandating an elementary school in every village and opening the Warsaw High School. Of particular significance was the decision to allow the peasants to commute labor dues into money payment, a source of longstanding dispute.[25]

The revolutionists were not mollified by what they considered minor concessions and national liberation was still off the table. A man dying of thirst wants only water. The "Reds" organized an underground government, called the City Committee or Committee of Action, which was designed to coordinate revolutionary activities. The conspirators were led by two twenty-something rebels named Stefan Bobrowski and Zygmnunt Padlewski, who planned a large scale uprising in the spring of 1863.[26] Although the plans were never fully developed, the main attack was to be on the Novogeogevsk Fortress, whose capture supplied the revolution with plentiful arms and munitions.[27]

Russian authorities were aware of several underground revolutionary groups operating in the Congress Kingdom, and even had the names of many of the conspirators gathered by a network of spies. It was obvious that an uprising was in the works. But rather than arrest a large number of dissidents, which might provoke a reaction from those as yet unidentified, Wielopolski decided to draft virtually every category of Polish man who might be involved into the secret organizations. In the past military conscription was by lottery, but the new system was to draft men based on carefully prepared lists that were anything but random. Students were considered a particularly rich target, as were the radical urban youths. The Russians calculated that those who refused to be drafted were tacitly identifying themselves as conspirators, subjecting themselves to arrest for the crime of refusing to serve in the army. As Wielopolski observed, the conscription amounted to proscription. The move was designed to force the revolt into the open, as indeed it did. But the plan was too clever by half. Nicholas should have recalled that the Russian mobilization of 1793 precipitated the nearly successful Kosciusko Uprising.

The draft was ordered to commence on January 14, 1863, purposely in the middle of winter when conditions for large scale demonstrations were difficult. Although an attempt was made to organize an all-Polish resistance, eight days later on January 22nd, the Reds seized the initiative, declaring a Polish Provincial National Government that claimed all the territory of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Sounding much like Kosciusko's initiatives of 1794, peasants were granted full property rights, and those that fought were to receive generous land grants. Although the peasants were initially reluctant to commit themselves, by the end of the revolt support from the lower classes was remarkably widespread.

The rag-tag Reds were nothing if not bold − with no military organization to speak of and with uncertain popular support these pubescent patriots declared war on the Russian Empire. The proclamation was issued by leaflets distributed in the night which contained the seal of the National Central Committee. Revolutionary edicts were never signed by the underground leaders, for obvious reasons, but the seal became readily identified and amazingly was respected by the Polish population. Unfortunately the wording of the manifesto could have been better. The document described the uprising as a life and death struggle between European civilization and the savage barbarism of Asia, a reference that was hardly calculated to illicit Russian support. In fact, the poor choice of words helped unify the Russian homeland during the revolt.[28]

Dutifully following their orders, six thousand poorly armed and untrained rebels improbably attacked Russian garrisons, which contained over 200,000 troops in the lands of the Russian partition alone. Incredibly, uncoordinated attacks by this motley crew dislodged the Russians from most of the territory they occupied. Despite their deliberate provocation the Russians took no military precautions, not believing that the Poles were capable of offensive action.[29]

As in the 1830 insurrection, conservative elements in the Polish population neither were prepared for a war to the knife nor did they particularly philosophically align with the rabble Reds. Yet, as a sign of solidarity, or perhaps not wanting to be outmaneuvered from the ideological high ground, the Whites, who previously advocated "Organic Work", joined the rebellion in large numbers. Conservative elements were particularly encouraged when Great Britain, Austria, and France issued a joint communiqué condemning Russian policy in Poland. The Reds and Whites vied for leadership in the revolt, but as the resistance was largely underground and in isolated cells supreme command was often only an abstraction.

In contrast to the 1830 revolt, in 1863 Poland possessed no professional army and there was no hope of defeating the Russians by conventional means.[30] Although the Russians were caught off guard, they quickly regrouped. The few, semi-set piece battles were easily won by the Russian troops, forcing the rebels to resort to the guerilla warfare that always was advocated by patriots on the left. Fortunately, the ideological groundwork was well prepared. The rebels secured supplies and shelter from the local population, despite the threat of instant death if their assistance was discovered. The fact that the uprising continued as long as it did against such great odds says volumes about the support of the Polish people. The Russians were never able to identify the specific sources of aid, therefore, their retribution was general.

Efficient and ingenious underground networks of communication and finance were installed before the fighting began. The swamps and forests of Poland and Lithuania proved excellent hiding places for small bands of partisans whose hit-and-run tactics frustrated the occupiers. Ambushes, small scale raids, and selected murders kept the Russians frustrated and off-balance. During the course of the uprising more than twelve hundred engagements were fought, most small scale skirmishes but the largest involving over three thousand Polish attackers.[31] The fighting was as heroic as it was tragic, harassing the Russian troops but never really threatening Russian control.

Against all historical evidence the Poles hoped that Western nations would rally to their cause. They placed particular hope in Napoleon III, whose name still resonated in the lands of the former Commonwealth. Again the governments of France and Great Britain sent toothless letters of protest but no troops to help the Poles; the Polish cause was philosophically appealing but apparently not worth risking a shooting war with Russia. Worse, the French gave the impression that they might come to Poland's aid, telling Polish representatives at the Hotel Lambert durez, keep going.[32] The flowery phrases, as solemn as they were worthless, only resulted in more Poles dying in the hopeless fight. Americans were too busy with their own Civil War, which was reaching its bloody crescendo at the time of the Polish insurrection.

Fellow partitioners remained neutral throughout the revolt. Austria did not meaningfully participate in even the debate about the insurrection. Prussia under Otto von Bismarck, who served as ambassador to St. Petersburg in 1859-1862, offered to send in troops to assist the Russians, but the Czar wanted Poland to himself and refused the assistance.

Although not officially sanctioned by their governments, idealistic young men from Ireland, England, France, Germany, and especially Italy rallied to the Polish cause. Marx, Engels, Herzen, and Garibaldi added their moral support. However, the largest non-Polish contingent to fight in the January Uprising was Russian, no doubt a concern for the Czar who worried about a similar revolt at home.[33] Polish and Russian revolutionists went so far as to sign an agreement, the "Russo-Polish Understanding" of December 2, 1862, almost two months before hostilities broke out, which called for cooperation against Czarist oppression.[34]

Polish freedom fighters were never outnumbered less than ten to one by the massive Russian military force sent to suppress the insurrection. At no time did the Polish insurgency number more than thirty thousand fighters, usually much less, but using guerilla tactics they kept Europe's largest army at bay for almost two years. Part of their effectiveness was in their organization of small, autonomous bands who, even if captured, could not give up information about their compatriots. Due to an elaborate system of pseudonyms, secret codes, and aliases, less than twenty people actually knew the name of their leader, Lithuania-born Romuald Traugutt (1826-1864), who was named "dictator" in 1864.[35] In fact the secrecy was so effectively maintained that Traugutt met many of his fellow underground leaders for the first time at the foot of the gallows as they awaited execution.[36]

Traugutt was a former colonel in the Russian army who resigned his commission in 1862. The following year he joined the insurrection and proved adept at guerilla tactics, particularly since his intimate knowledge of the Czarist armies gave him insight into their vulnerabilities. His success was sufficient to elevate him to the top post in the underground resistance, despite the fact that he was a political moderate. Traugutt, however, was committed to Polish independence, and to accomplish that end he sought to prolong the fighting for as long as possible, until conventional armies interfered in Poland's favor or the Russians tired of the slow attrition of their troops.

From safe houses in Warsaw rebels, who by day appeared as ordinary law-abiding citizens, operated their own shadow government, literally under the noises of Czarist authorities. Government meetings sometimes were held in code in open cafes in the midst of the Russian army, which often encamped in nearby town squares. The underground Polish government was remarkably sophisticated, comprised of five ministries and an active diplomatic service which canvassed the courts of Europe. Ingeniously forged documents allowed the insurgents to travel freely within and outside of the Kingdom. The revolutionary government collected taxes from their "citizens" and was even able to float an international loan.[37] Assassination teams, called stiletto-men, murdered numerous Russian officials and Polish collaborators, often in broad daylight for the terror effect. The ingenuity of the underground state so frustrated the Czar that he ordered the Russian military commander in Warsaw to personally conduct an investigation into the stealth organization. The investigation was spectacularly unsuccessful. General Fedor Berg dutifully reported his findings, telling the Czar, "I have come to one conclusion, namely, that I don't belong to it... nor does your Imperial Highness".[38] The insurrection of 1863 served as a proto-type of urban guerilla warfare that is emulated even today in Iraq.

To the great dismay of the Russian authorities, Lithuania once again rose up in sympathy with the Poles, displaying an annoying habit of retaining their affinity for the old Republic. As a clear sign of the historical association, Poles and Lithuanians even met in solidarity at a mass gathering in Horodlo, the site of the signing of the Polish-Lithunian Act of Union in 1413.[39] The ingratitude of the supposedly Russian people, who again openly declared for Poland, was not forgotten. In the Ukraine and Byelorussia revolts were sporadic and local, perhaps more in recognition of the futility of the enterprise then its desirability.

The geographic breadth of the revolution was indeed impressive, causing optimistic Poles to comment that the blood of the insurgents marked the future boundary of Poland.[40] Despite the fact that the Russians ultimately deployed 400,000 men, almost half of their military forces, in Poland, the insurrection was maddeningly persistent.

In 1864 the czar hit upon the strategy that eventually ended the violence − he would essentially outbid the rebels.[41] In his ukaz of March of 1864, which gave Polish peasants more concessions than anywhere else in the Russian Empire, the peasants were offered the same property rights that the rebels were promising, but were unable to fulfill as they controlled no sizeable territory.[42] The proclamation was worded in a way to drive a wedge between the nobilty, seen as the directing force in the insurgency, and the peasants, whom the czar still believed would become good Russians. The announcement read that "little father the Tsar" was promising to liberate his children from "the lords who have oppressed you".[43]

Although not as successful as hoped, the plan worked. After the proclamation on land reform was issued, support among the peasants for the insurrection waned. Poles were skeptical of the czar's offer but were weary of the struggle. Without the assistance of the local population, radical leaders slowly were rounded up and quickly executed, until the last hold out, a radical priest named Stanislaw Brzoska, was publicly hanged in May of 1865.[44]

But peasant support was far from extinguished by the czar's offer. It is significant that the final skirmishes fought in the January Insurrection were by bands of peasants. The revolt began and ended with Russian peasant emancipations, but as the fighting progressed more and more of the underclass rallied to the Polish cause. In fact, peasant participation in the January Insurrection exceeded that of any previous uprising, including Kosciusko's Insurrection in 1794. Of special note was the enthusiastic participation of the Roman Catholic clergy who rallied to the Polish nationalist cuase. Guerrilla bands often included priests who joined the peasants, workers, students, and soldiers in a final, futile stand.[45] The Polish nation, even in defeat, finally was comprised of all social classes, marking the final chapter in the rise of the nobility which began with the 1374 Statue of Koszyce. Poland, henceforth, was a modern, if oppressed, society.

At great cost, the failed Insurrection of 1863 served to inspire future generations of Polish patriots. Joseph Pilsudski would later write:

It was a sublime effort, an effort in which every one in the land, old and young, woman and child, shared. A unity of purpose so beautiful and so great that the vast military force of Russia with all the weight of its government machinery behind it could not destroy it. The strength and power of that resistance lay not in the guns that were carried through the woods and marshes, but in the sublime self-sacrifices of the whole civilian community which sent forth that army and protected it, in the spiritual height to which the nation was able to attain. It was defeated, but that defeat is one of the most beautiful leaves in the Polish crown of laurels.[46]

 Incredibly, the brutal reprisals that followed exceeded the Russian repression associated with the Insurrection of 1830. No longer was there any pretense of abiding by the edicts of the Congress of Vienna. To make the point, the Congress Kingdom was officially renamed the innocuous "Vistula Land", where all vestiges of Polish autonomy were systematically eradicated. The fiction of separate legal status was destroyed and even the name "Poland" was again formally abolished.[47] The recently revived educational system was returned to its torpid state. Thousands of Poles, the cream of Polish society, began the familiar march to exile in Siberia amidst a landscape smoldering from Russian retribution. Many of the prisoners were women, who voluntarily joined their husbands into exile.[48] Most of them, estimated at 150,000 never returned.[49]

Poles left behind were subjected to unconscionable abuses on a scale not exceeded until the World Wars. Although over 25,000 Poles died during the insurrection, it is estimated that several times that number perished at the hands of the Russians in the cruel aftermath. The secret police, enormous before the revolt, was doubled and freed from any legalistic constraints. Every Pole in a government post was unceremoniously dismissed. The Catholic Church was deprived of all privileges and officially persecuted by the authorities. while meaningful public politics disappeared in the Russian partition for the duration of the century. [50] A whole generation of Poles was denied their careers, their hopes, and their happiness.[51]

Lithuania was punished with a special vindictiveness, as the Russians considered the Grand Duchy's support of Poland not merely rebellion, but treason. Determined to remove everything Polish in Lithuanian lands, the Russians forbade the speaking of Polish in public, an order that was strictly enforced. Even the printing of Latin, that distinctly Catholic infection, was replaced by the use of the Russian alphabet. Hangman Muravyew (Muraview) was brought out of retirement to unleash his murderous vengeance on a new generation of victims. Unfortunately the Hangman had not mellowed with age. Muravyew ordered the hanging of over five thousand Lithuanians and confiscated the estates of almost eighteen hundred nobles, demanding "contributions" of over fourteen million roubles in the process. If a village was known to have sheltered a wounded rebel, the Hangman ordered the Cossacks to burn it to the ground and forced the homeless peasants to plow the site to remove any evidence of its existence.[52] Even in the Ukraine, where the revolt was very limited, the landed property of Poles was confiscated, while the publication of books in Ukrainian, or "Little Russian" language, was forbidden.[53]

In the other lands of partitioned Poland, conditions were hardly idyllic but at least the people were spared the murderous vengeance of the Czar. Prussia under Bismarck was virulently anti-Polish, but the rule of law still generally was respected and the economy relatively vibrant. Austrian Poland was arguably the poorest province in Europe, but it was in Galicia that Poles were able to establish a Piedmont of sorts, where Polish nationalists at least dreamed relatively unmolested.[54] Perversely, the worse abuses of the post-January Insurrection reprisals in the Vistula Land coincided with meaningful constitutional reforms in the Habsburg Empire. Whereas the Catholic and Uniate Churches that underpinned Polish and Ukrainian nationalism, respectively, was actively persecuted in Russian Poland, both religions were officially promoted in Galicia.

The January Uprising seemed to portend the end of Poland. Seventy years of struggle had done nothing but tighten the noose, each revolutionary convulsion only served to slowly strangle the life out of the proud independent Republic. The situation seemed hopeless; none of Poland's governmental institutions remained, her language, culture, and historical memory were outlawed, and her people under the rule of foreign despots. Many of the nation's elite were dead or in exile. When Poland's sometimes friends France and Austria were defeated by a surging Prussia, the hopes of international intervention became increasingly remote.

As if to signal Polish demise, Jaroslaw Dabrowski, one of the few surviving military leaders of the January Insurrection, died on the Paris barricades in 1871. Dabrowski served as the commander-in-chief of the Paris Commune, the socialist/anarchist government that briefly ruled the city.[55] The Commune was seen as the last flicker of liberal sentiment on the continent, and when it was extinguished the lost soul of Poland was left alone, in the dark.



[1] Hingley, Russia: A Concise History, 121.

 [2] Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 146.

 [3] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 155.

 [4] The phrase is sometimes attributed to the English Pale in Ireland.

[5] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 257.

 [6] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 156.

 [7] Ibid., 161.

 [8] Need source for quote.

 [9] At the time it is estimated that there were approximately fifty million serfs in the Russian Empire while there was only four million slaves in America.

[10] Some accused Lincoln of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation as a ploy to create unrest in the Confederacy, noting that he freed the slaves where he could not, the South, but did not free the slaves where he could , the North.

[11] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 162.

 [12] Hingley, Russia: A Concise History, 122.

 [13] Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History, 278.

 [14] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 258-259.

 [15] Michnik, Letters from Prison and Other Essays, 223.

 [16] Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 148.

 [17] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 259.

 [18] Humphrey, Pilsudski: Builder of Poland, 8.

 [19] Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 150.

 [20] Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History, 280.

 [21] Halecki, Borderlands of Western Civilization: A History of East Central Europe, 335.

 [22] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 160-71.

 [23] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 258.

 [24] Michnik, Letters from Prison and Other Essays, 224.

 [25] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 259.

 [26] Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 151.

 [27] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 170.

[28] Ibid., 171-172.

 [29] Ibid., 172.

 [30] Ibid., 170-171.

[31] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 263.

 [32] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 170.

 [33] Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History, 281.

 [34] Dziewanowski, Joseph Piłsudski: A European Federalist, 28.

[35] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 265.

 [36] Humphrey, Pilsudski: Builder of Poland, 9.

[37] Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History, 280.

 [38] Wandycz, The Lands of Partitioned Poland, 1794-1918, 175.

 [39] Ibid., 166.

 [40] Ibid., 176.

[41] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 264.

 [42] Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History, 284.

 [43] Need source for quotes.

 [44] Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, 152-154.

 [45] Tihany, A History of Middle Europe, 165.

 [46] Pilsudska, Pilsudski: A Biography, 79.

[47] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 269.

 [48] Fletcher, A History of Poland, 147. 

 [49] Pilsudska, Pilsudski: A Biography, 80.

 [50] Humphrey, Pilsudski: Builder of Poland, 12-13.

 [51] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 269.

  [52] Humphrey, Pilsudski: Builder of Poland, 15.

 [53] Halecki, Borderlands of Western Civilization: A History of East Central Europe, 326-327.

 [54] Davies, God's Playground: A History of Poland, II, 106.

[55] Zamoyski, The Polish Way: A Thousand-Year History, 285.