Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Niemcewicz, Julian Ursin, Count

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NIEMCEWICZ, Julian Ursin, Count (ne-em-tsay'-vitch), Polish statesman, b. in Skoki, Lithuania, Poland, in 1757; d. in Paris, France, 21 May, 1841. He was of noble birth, entered the Lithuanian army as the adjutant of Prince Czartoryski, and in 1788 was promoted major. Being appointed a deputy to the Polish constitutional diet, he had the principal share in drawing up the constitution of 3 May, 1791, and about the same time became an editor of a popular journal called “Gazeta Narodowa.” After the battle of Maciejowice he was made prisoner with Kosciusko, and confined in the fortress of St. Petersburg, from which they were released on the accession of Paul in 1796. The following year he accompanied Kosciusko to this country. His handsome person, his culture, and his captivating manners at once made him a favorite in society in New York city, where he was the frequent guest of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and other eminent men. In 1800 he married Mrs. Livingston Kean, the widow of John Kean (q. v.), a delegate from South Carolina to the Continental congress, who died in 1795. Mrs. Kean had purchased Liberty Hall, the country-seat of her uncle, Gov. William Livingston, and after her marriage with Count Niemcewicz it again became the centre of attraction for scholars and statesmen. After the invasion of Poland by Napoleon in 1807, he returned to Warsaw and was made secretary of the senate. On the annexation of his native country to Russia he became president of the committee on the new constitution. He took an active part in the revolution of 1831, and in his capacity of secretary drew up the resolution that expelled the Romanoff family from the throne of Poland. After the fall of Warsaw he visited England, and thence went to Paris, where he remained until his death. Besides being a patriot and statesman, Niemcewicz was a poet and historian. A complete edition of his works was issued in twelve volumes in Leipsic in 1840. His “Historical Songs of the Poles” (Warsaw, 1816; German translation, Leipsic, 1833), set to music, with historical sketches, attained great popularity. He also published “History of the Reign of Sigismund III. of Poland” (3 vols.; new ed., Breslau, 1836); “Collection of Memoirs relating to Old Polish History” (5 vols.; new ed., Leipsic, 1840); and “John of Tenczyn,” a romance. In addition to the foregoing he wrote a series of fables and tales in the style of La Fontaine, several dramas that were produced successfully on the stage, and translated from the English poets. In “Leb and Sarah, or Letters of Polish Jews,” he described the moral and intellectual condition of the Hebrew race in Poland. His eulogy on Kosciusko is considered his masterpiece.