(Polish: Konstytucja 3 maja) is considered one of the
most important achievements in the history of Poland, despite being in
effect for only a year, until the Russo-Polish War of 1792. The
constitution was a milestone in the history of law and the rise of democracy.
It has been called the second constitution in world history, following the 1788
ratification of the United States Constitution. The memory of the May 3
Constitution—recognized by political scientists as a very progressive
document for its time—for generations helped keep alive Polish aspirations for
an independent and just society, and continued to inform the efforts of its
In Poland it is viewed as a national symbol,
and the culmination of all that was good and enlightened in Polish history and culture.
The 3rd May anniversary of its adoption has been observed as Poland’s most
important civil holiday since Poland regained independence in
1918. Its importance for the Polish people has been compared to that
of July 4 to the Americans.
In early 1861 he enlisted in the United States’ Union Army, recruited a company of Polish immigrants, and became Colonel of the 58th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, listed in the official Army Register as the “Polish Legion”. In 1862 he was promoted to brigadier general.
In the July 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Krzyżanowski helped repel an evening assault by the famed Louisiana Tigers on the Union defenses atop East Cemetery Hill. After the Civil War, he held several government posts, and may have been the first American administrator of Alaska Territory.