Újházi, László (1795–1870)

By: James Patrick McGuire

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Updated: August 12, 2020

László (Ladislaus) Újházi (Újházy), Hungarian émigré and Texas settler, the son of Samuel and Polixina (Radvanszky) Újházy, was born at Budamer, the family estate in Saros County, Upper Hungary, on January 20, 1795. His father was a landowner of the lesser nobility. Újházi was a political figure in Hungary and the United States and one of the foremost exiles of the failed Hungarian revolution of 1848–49 to settle in the United States. He married Terez Varady Szakmary about 1818; they had eight children. Five children later came to America. Újházi was educated as a lawyer at Eperjes and Sarospatak and was politically active in the Saros County Assembly and later in the national Diet during Hungary's Age of Reform, which culminated in its national struggle for freedom against Hapsburg rule in 1848–49. As a radical and republican, he was an early and steadfast supporter of Lajos Kossuth, Hungarian revolutionary leader. Újházi served in the Hungarian revolutionary parliament during Kossuth's brief rule and was named government commissioner to raise troops and supplies as well as to oversee the loyalty of the important fortress of Komárom, which guarded the middle Danube River. When Austria and Russia defeated Hungary, Újházi and his family chose exile in America in 1849. Újházi was named by Kossuth as his representative to the American government in 1850. The same year Újházi established a Hungarian colony at New Buda, Iowa, but the plan failed to attract many exiles. After Kossuth's six-month tour of the United States (1851–52), Újházi and his family settled near San Antonio, Texas, where they farmed and ranched. Újházi experimented with Hungarian grapevines and melon cultivation, imported Hungarian wines, bred Hungarian hunting dogs, and impressed his neighbors with his aristocratic lifestyle. Újházi became a citizen of the United States and was a fierce opponent of slavery and secession. As such, he chose a second exile and served as Abraham Lincoln's consul at Ancona, Italy, from 1862 to 1864. Upon his return to Texas he helped found the Republican party in Bexar County during Reconstruction. In 1869 he was nominated in absentia by the opposition party for a seat in the Hungarian Parliament, but lost the election. Although offered amnesty by Austria, Újházi held steadfast to his resolve to remain an exile as long as the Hapsburgs ruled Hungary. He died at his estate, Sirmezo ("field of sighing," or "cemetery"), near San Antonio on March 12, 1870. His remains were returned to the crypt of the family's estate chapel at Budamer, Hungary, in 1879.

Istvan Deak, The Lawful Revolution: Louis Kossuth and the Hungarians, 1848–1849 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978). Emil Lengyel, Americans from Hungary (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1948). Újházi Files, University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, San Antonio. Steven Bela Vardy, The Hungarian-Americans (Boston: Twayne, 1985). Béla Vassady, Jr., "Kossuth and Újházi on Establishing a Colony of Hungarian 48-ers in America, 1849–1852," Canadian-American Review of Hungarian Studies 6 (Spring 1979). Carl Wittke, Refugees of Revolution: The German Forty-Eighters in America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1952).

  • Peoples
  • Austrians
  • Politics and Government

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James Patrick McGuire, “Újházi, László,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/ujhazi-laszlo.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995
August 12, 2020