October 26 – Carpatho-Rusyn Day in North America: Background

In the fall of 1918, Carpatho-Rusyns joined in New York City with representatives of twenty other stateless peoples to form the Mid-European Democratic Union. The three-member delegation representing Carpatho-Rusyns was chosen by the community’s largest immigrant organizations, comprised of members living in the United States and Canada. On October 26, 1918, representatives of twenty-one stateless peoples gathered in historic Independence Hall in Philadelphia (in the very room where America’s Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in 1776), where they signed a Declaration of Common Aims.

This was the first time in modern history that Carpatho-Rusyns (also known as Lemkos, Rusnaks, Ruthenians, or Uhro-Rusins) were recognized as a distinct nationality by neighboring peoples and by the United States government which approved of the Mid-European Union’s Declaration of Common Aims. During the October 26 signing of the Declaration of Common Aims, a large-scale map was displayed showing the proposed new states of Europe, on which the homeland of Carpatho-Rusyns was clearly depicted by the name Rusinia. Lemko Rusyns living on the northern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains also expressed a desire to be part of Rusinia, and they proposed that idea to the Paris Peace Conference. In the end, only Carpatho-Rusyns living south of the mountains were allowed to join, on a voluntary basis, the new state of Czechoslovakia. According to the Paris Peace Conference (Treaty of St. Germain, 1919), Rusinia—now renamed Subcarpathian Rus’—was to function as an autonomous (self-governing) territory within Czechoslovakia. The head of the Carpatho-Rusyn delegation at the Mid-European Union in Philadelphia, the American lawyer Gregory Zhatkovych (in English, Zatkovich), was appointed the first governor of Subcarpathian Rus’.

Consortium Press Release: October 26 Declared as Carpatho-Rusyn Day in North America




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