Birthday Wishes from Poland to the United States

on the Sesquicentennial of American Independence

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It was an unusual birthday gift that arrived from Poland to the White House on October 14, 1926. Delivered a few months after the 150th anniversary of American independence was celebrated on July 4th of that year, it was a collection of nearly 30,000 pages with 5.5 million signatures gathered among 30 millions of citizens of the Second Polish Republic and about 3 millions of Poles living abroad. The pages were bound into 111 volumes of which the first one was entitled “The Polish Declarations of Admiration and Friendship for the United States.”

Coming from the nation savoring the eighth year of sovereignty regained after 123 years of partitions, it was a token of high esteem for the 150 years old American democracy as well as gratitude for supporting the Polish cause at the conclusion of World War I. The authors of the dedication page have also expressed the heartfelt thanks for saving thousands of Polish children from starvation at the war’s end and American pilots joining the Kościuszko’s Squadron during the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921).

PDAF 05 Poles have always had a soft place for America in their hearts and in 1926, this reverence led “The Fourth of July Committee” formed in Poland to undertake a massive task of circulating thousands of blank cards to sign that reached even the most remote parts of the country. Among millions of signees were government officials (including the President of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki), school children, artists, soldiers, bankers, students, sportspeople, clergy, scientists and members of numerous organizations, societies and clubs.

After nearly 90 years of being housed in the Library of Congress in Washington DC, this impressive manifestation of Polish-American friendship became a story again after the project of digitizing all of its 111 volumes has been completed in 2017 in cooperation with the Polish Library of Washington and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. All pages of this memorable manuscript are now available online and check it out, many of them are beautifully embellished with drawings, photographs, dried flowers and artwork created by the best Polish graphic artists of the time (click here to view selected pages with descriptions).

Besides reminding us about the historic gesture that many of us have forgotten or never heard about, this is also a great resource for genealogical research. So who knows, you might even find on those pages signatures of your own ancestors or relatives….

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 Newsletter

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