Under the Protection of Our Flag

President Reagan was fond of telling the story of Captain Duncan Ingraham, U.S. Navy, and did so in remarks to the crew on board the USS Constellation on August 20, 1981. After a failed attempt in 1848-1849 to free Hungary from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, one of the Hungarian leaders, named Martin Koszta, emigrated to the United States.  In doing so, Koszta made a sworn declaration of his intent to become an American citizen, and renounced any allegiance to any foreign power.  He started an import business, and nearly two years after taking that oath, while in Turkey on private business, he was recognized and seized by agents of the Empire and imprisoned in chains on an Austrian brig-of-war in Smyrna Harbor.  Koszta faced a sentence of death by hanging.  The American consul, under whose protection Koszta operated in Turkey, protested to the Turkish government and the Austrian naval officers, to no avail. Captain Duncan Ingraham, in command of the...(Read Full Article)

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