During the United States tour of Louis (Lajos) Kossuth, exiled leader of Hungary’s failed attempt to escape the Austro-Hungarian Alliance, Indiana’s Governor Joseph Wright issued the first invitation to visit a western state. Kossuth, in America to raise funds to renew his country’s effort to be free of its alliance with Austria, accepted the invitation, and a delegation of state legislators and their families journeyed to Cincinnati to welcome him. Local merchants began promoting Kossuth items, the most popular being the Kossuth hat, described as round with a low crown resembling a loaf of bread.

Illustration of Louis Kossuth.
Louis Kossuth, n.d. Credit: József Károy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons View Source

Kossuth arrived in Indianapolis Friday, February 27, to cheering throngs and streets filled with American and Hungarian flags. There were numerous speeches, a levee on Friday night, presentation to the legislature and groups who donated to the freedom fund, and visits to churches and Sunday schools. Monday evening, Kossuth addressed the State Association of Friends of Hungary and accepted a donation from Sarah Bolton on behalf of the city’s women.

Not everyone, however, was pleased by the visit. The February 27 Indianapolis Journal carried only a small item in its “Local Matters” column stating that if Kossuth wanted to be interviewed he could visit the office since the reporter was not interested in pushing his way through the crowd just to see him.

Theresa Pulsky, a member of Kossuth’s party, described the hotel and its service as poor and the city as small, without means to drain or pave its streets. When discussing the governor’s reception she called the house uncomfortable and decried the diversity of the guests and their attire. Nevertheless, when Kossuth left Indianapolis the fund for Hungarian freedom was $800 richer ($27,000 in 2020).

Revised March 2021

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