Kościuszko, Pułaski—They Fought for Liberty in America


This Polish-language poster, produced in Brooklyn, New York, in 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I, was aimed at the many Polish-speaking immigrants living in the United States at that time. The message— “Kościuszko, Pułaski fought for liberty in America. Can you help America fight for freedom in Poland? Eat less sugar, wheat, meat, fats so that we can support our brothers fighting in the allied armies”—invokes the names of two Poles. Tadeusz Kosciusko and Kazimierz Pulaski fought on the American side in the Revolutionary War, and this poster identifies their cause with that of wartime austerity to support the U.S. war effort against Germany. The portrait is that of Kosciusko, a young Polish officer best remembered for overseeing the construction of the fortifications at the decisive Battle of Saratoga. The poster was sponsored by the U.S. Food Administration, a government agency established in August 1917 by President Woodrow Wilson for the purpose of assuring the supply, distribution, and conservation of food during the war. The artist was George John Illian, a prolific illustrator who made numerous World War I posters.

Last updated: June 18, 2014