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258
CHOATE

At Zheltnaya Vodui (Yellow Waters) in the Ukraine he annihilated, on the 19th of May, a detached Polish army corps after three days’ desperate fighting, and on the 26th routed the main Polish army under the grand hetman, Stephen Potocki, at Kruta Balka (Hard Plank), near the river Korsun. The immediate consequence of these victories was the outbreak of a “serfs’ fury.” Throughout the Ukraine the Polish gentry were hunted down, flayed and burnt alive, blinded and sawn asunder. Every manor-house was reduced to ashes. Every Uniat and Catholic priest was hung up before his own altar, along with a Jew and a hog. The panic-stricken inhabitants fled to the nearest strongholds, and soon the rebels were swarming all over the palatinates of Volhynia and Podolia. But the ataman was as crafty as he was cruel. Disagreeably awakened to the insecurity of his position by the refusal of the tsar and the sultan to accept him as a vassal, he feigned to resume negotiations with the Poles in order to gain time, dismissed the Polish commissioners in the summer of 1648 with impossible conditions, and on the 23rd of September, after a contest of three days, utterly routed the Polish chivalry, 40,000 strong, at Pildawa, where the Cossacks are said to have reaped an immense booty after the fight was over. All Poland now lay at his feet, and the road to the defenceless capital was open before him; but he wasted the precious months in vain before the fortress of Zamosc, and was then persuaded by the new king of Poland, John Casimir, to consent to a suspension of hostilities. In June 1649, arrayed in cloth-of-gold and mounted on a white charger, Chmielnicki made his triumphal entry into Kiev, where he was hailed as the Maccabaeus of the Orthodox faith, and permitted the committal of unspeakable atrocities on the Jews and Roman Catholics. At the ensuing peace congress at Pereyaslavl he demanded terms so extravagant that the Polish commissioners dared not listen to them. In 1649, therefore, the war was resumed. A bloody battle ensued near Zborow, on the banks of the Strypa, when only the personal valour of the Polish king, the superiority of the Polish artillery, and the defection of Chmielnicki’s allies the Tatars enabled the royal forces to hold their own. Peace was then patched up by the compact of Zborow (August 21, 1649), whereby Chmielnicki was virtually recognized as a semi-independent prince.

For the next eighteen months he was the absolute master of the Ukraine, which he divided into sixteen provinces, made his native place Chigirin the Cossack capital, and entered into direct relations with foreign powers. Poland and Muscovy competed for his alliance, and in his more exalted moods he meditated an Orthodox crusade against the Turk at the head of the northern Slavs. But he was no statesman, and his difficulties proved overwhelming. Instinct told him that his old ally the khan of the Crimea was unreliable, and that the tsar of Muscovy was his natural protector, yet he could not make up his mind to abandon the one or turn to the other. His attempt to carve a principality for his son out of Moldavia, which Poland regarded as her vassal, led to the outbreak in 1651 of a third war between subject and suzerain, which speedily assumed the dignity and the dimensions of a crusade. Chmielnicki was now regarded not merely as a Cossack rebel, but as the arch-enemy of Catholicism in eastern Europe, and the pope granted a plenary absolution to all who took up arms against him. But Bogdan himself was not without ecclesiastical sanction. The archbishop of Corinth girded him with a sword which had lain upon the Holy Sepulchre, and the metropolitan of Kiev absolved him from all his sins, without the usual preliminary of confession, before he rode forth to battle. But fortune, so long his friend, now deserted him, and at Beresteczko (July 1, 1651) the Cossack ataman was defeated for the first time. But even now his power was far from broken. In 1652 he openly interfered in the affairs of Transylvania and Walachia, and assumed the high-sounding title of “guardian of the Ottoman Porte.” In 1653 Poland made a supreme effort, the diet voted 17,000,000 gulden in subsidies, and John Casimir led an army of 60,000 men into the Ukraine and defeated the arch-rebel at Zranta, whereupon Chmielnicki took the oath of allegiance to the tsar (compact of Pereyaslavl, February 19, 1654), and all hope of an independent Cossack state was at an end. He died on the 7th of August 1657. With all his native ability, Chmielnicki was but an eminent savage. He was the creature of every passing mood or whim, incapable of cool and steady judgment or of the slightest self-control—an incalculable weather-cock, blindly obsequious to every blast of passion. He could destroy, but he could not create, and other people benefited by his exploits.

See P. Kulish, On the Defection of Malo-Russia from Poland (Rus.) (Moscow, 1890); S. M. Solovev, History of Russia (Rus.) (Moscow, 1857, &c.), vol. x.; Robert Nisbet Bain, The First Romanovs, chaps. 3-4 (London, 1905). (R. N. B.) 


CHOATE, JOSEPH HODGES (1832–  ), American lawyer and diplomat, was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on the 24th of January 1832. He was the son of Dr George Choate, a physician of considerable note, and was a nephew of Rufus Choate. After graduating at Harvard College in 1852 and at the law school of Harvard University in 1854, he was admitted first to the Massachusetts (1855) and then (1856) to the New York bar, and entered the law office of Scudder & Carter in New York City. His success in his profession was immediate, and in 1860 he became junior partner in the firm of Evarts, Southmayd & Choate, the senior partner in which was William M. Evarts. This firm and its successor, that of Evarts, Choate & Beaman, remained for many years among the leading law firms of New York and of the country, the activities of both being national rather than local. During these busy years Mr Choate was associated with many of the most famous litigations in American legal history, including the Tilden, A. T. Stewart, and Stanford will cases, the Kansas prohibition cases, the Chinese exclusion cases, the Maynard election returns case, and the Income Tax Suit. In 1871 he became a member of the “Committee of Seventy” in New York City, which was instrumental in breaking up the “Tweed Ring,” and later assisted in the prosecution of the indicted officials. In the retrial of the General Fitz John Porter case he obtained a reversal of the decision of the original court-martial. His greatest reputation was won perhaps in cross-examination. In politics he allied himself with the Republican party on its organization, being a frequent speaker in presidential campaigns, beginning with that of 1856. He never held political office, although he was a candidate for the Republican senatorial nomination against Senator Thomas C. Platt in 1897. In 1894 he was president of the New York state constitutional convention. He was appointed, by President McKinley, ambassador to Great Britain to succeed John Hay in 1899, and remained in this position until the spring of 1905. In England he won great personal popularity, and accomplished much in fostering the good relations of the two great English-speaking powers. He was one of the representatives of the United States at the second Peace Congress at the Hague in 1907.

Several of his notable public addresses have been published. The Choate Story Book (New York, 1903) contains a few of his addresses and after-dinner speeches, and is prefaced by a brief biographical sketch.


CHOATE, RUFUS (1799–1859), American lawyer and orator, was born at Ipswich, Massachusetts, on the 1st of October 1799, the descendant of a family which settled in Massachusetts in 1667. As a child he was remarkably precocious; at six he is said to have been able to repeat large parts of the Bible and of Pilgrim’s Progress by heart. He graduated as valedictorian of his class at Dartmouth College in 1819, was a tutor there in 1819–1820, spent a year in the law school of Harvard University, and studied for a like period at Washington, in the office of William Wirt, then attorney-general of the United States. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1823 and practised at what was later South Danvers (now Peabody) for five years, during which time he served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1825–1826) and in the state senate (1827). In 1828 he removed to Salem, where his successful conduct of several important law-suits brought him prominently into public notice. In 1830 he was elected to Congress as a Whig from the Salem district, defeating the Jacksonian candidate for re-election,