History & Tourism, Shelby

When Richland Welcomed: The Father Of Hungarian Democracy

16 Jun , 2021  

By 1812Blockhouse

We’re doing a bit of a “spin” today on one of our standard series.

Throughout the lasts five years, we have highlighted stories of visits to Mansfield by important figures of literary, academic, artistic, and political history in a series we call “When Mansfield Welcomed.” Through those posts, we have looked back in time to consider all of the well-known individuals who have stopped in the city.

There are, of course, other communities in Richland County, and in fact one was well-positioned on the main railroad line between Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati — basically the “I71” of its day, a line which would come to be called the Big Four Railroad.

Lajos Kossuth

It is for this reason that the very first international political leader known to have made a visit to Richland County came not to Mansfield, but to Shelby.

Lajos Kossuth, also known as Louis Kossuth, was a Hungarian nobleman, lawyer, journalist, politician, statesman and Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary during the revolution of 1848–49.

Because of his remarkable role, he was widely known as the “Father of Hungarian Democracy.”

In February 1852, just a year or so after the rail line came through Shelby, Kossuth arrived here on his tour of the United States. Historians have noted what the reception was like in many of the small American communities he visited. One account says this about this time in Shelby:

“The multitude at Shelby, which was the largest yet encountered after leaving Cleveland, gave Kossuth a warm greeting. An elaborate dinner, prepared exclusively for the Hungarian, was served in the railroad dining room. The Hon. Jacob Brinkerhoff addressed Kossuth on behalf of the people, and handed him a purse of $57.50. Delegations from Mansfield, Tiffin, and other towns were present, the gathering including many women.”

A few days later he spoke to the Ohio General Assembly in Columbus, where he uttered famous words, “All for the People and All by the People; Nothing About the People Without the People. This is Democracy!”

Kossuth made an impression on the people of the United States. He is honored today by a Kossuth County in the state of Iowa; towns with his name in Indiana, Ohio and Mississippi; and settlements with a Kossuth post office are in Pennsylvania. In addition, there are three Kossuth statues in the US: in New York, Cleveland and Washington.

You can learn more about Kossuth in the video below.

Sources: Wikipedia, Firelands Pioneer, Louis Kossuth, “The Hungary Page”

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