KOSSUTH, LAJOS ° (1802–1894), Hungarian statesman and patriot who headed the struggle for Hungarian independence from Austria. After the outbreak of the 1848 Revolution he became minister of finance in the revolutionary government and president of the committee of national defense. Subsequently he was elected regent.
Kossuth favored the cause of Jewish emancipation in Hungary, although he held that the Jews were not yet ready for equality. With the outbreak of the Revolution, the question of Jewish equality came up for discussion in the national assembly, but Kossuth declared the times inopportune. In reference to the anti-Jewish riots which had broken out in several places, he declared that "legislation on the Jewish question now would be equivalent to delivering many of them up to the wrath of their enemies." Only with the final collapse of the struggle, and the withdrawal of the revolutionary government to Szeged, was the proposed legislation granting equality to the Jews passed, strongly influenced by the part taken by Jews in the struggle and the heroism they had displayed. After the Hapsburg reversal Kossuth left Hungary never to return.
While in exile Kossuth made two important declarations regarding Jewish matters. During the *Tisza-Eszlar blood libel in 1882 he came out strongly against the nonsensical accusations, and during the struggle for legislation conferring religious equality on the Jews, he influenced the opposition Hungarian Independence Party in favor of supporting the proposed law.
H. Marczali, in: imit, 55 (1933), 89–97; B. Bernstein, A negyvennyolcas magyar szabadságharc és a zsidók (19392), 30–31, 70, 120; I. Einhorn, Die Revolution und die Juden in Ungarn (1851).