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Anders Chydenius
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P.O. Box 567
FIN-67700 Kokkola
Tel. +358 (0)6 829 4111
E-mail: asiamies@chydenius.net

A new guide is now put before the eyes of the Reader. It is quite a small one, so that everyone may be able to carry it in his pocket. It is new as well, I said, for it hardly conforms to any other in Europe. And I think it is reliable, too, for I have attempted to found it upon reason and experience.

Defender of freedom

The Finn Anders Chydenius was one of the most notable politicians of eighteenth century Sweden-Finland. He is most of all remembered as an outspoken defender of freedom of trade and industry, the "Adam Smith of the North". Chydenius' views on freedom of trade were a consequence of his general ideology of freedom. According to him, democracy, equality and a respect for human rights were the only way towards progress and happiness for the whole of society.

According to Chydenius, economics exists for the benefit of "the little people" - and not the other way round.

Behind Anders Chydenius' thought and actions there can be seen three of the main keys to the spirit of his time: the idea of natural rights, the natural scientific worldview, and pietism, which emphasises the religious convictions of the individual.

His childhood

Anders Chydenius' youth was passed in the unprosperous and barren surroundings of Northern Finland. He was born in 1729 at Sotkamo, where his father Jacob was a chaplain. Soon the family moved to Kuusamo, and Jacob became rector there in 1734.

The scholar

After private lessons from his father Anders attended Oulu grammar school along with his brother Samuel. After the War of the Hats of 1741-43 the boys studied together privately in Tornio, and gained entry to Turku Academy in 1745. They also studied at Uppsala university. Ander's studies included mathematics, natural sciences, Latin and philosophy.

The curate

Chydenius, having just graduated, was in 1753 appointed preacher to the Chapel of the dependent parish of Alaveteli in Ostrobothnia. In 1755 Anders married Beata Magdalena Mellberg, the daughter of a merchant from the port of Pietarsaari. The marriage however remained childless.

Utility and reason

Throughout the years at Alaveteli Chydenius was active on many practical projects. He was responsible for the clearing of marshes, he experimented with new breeds of animals and plants and adopted new methods of cultivation. In his practicality Chydenius was clearly representative of the Swedish "Age of Utility", with his aim of enlightening the peasants by example.

The doctor

Chydenius also practiced medicine, and achieved renown in his own lifetime by inoculating ordinary folk against smallpox. He also performed demanding ocular cataract operations, and prepared medicines himself.

The wordsmith

Chydenius' first writings concerned practical matters, such as the overgrowing of meadows by moss, and improvements in the design of horse-carriages. Soon he moved on to social questions. Chydenius was acclaimed as a writer and speaker, and was dispatched to the Stockholm Diet in 1765-66, commissioned to obtain free trading rights for the towns of Ostrobothnia. Kokkola, Vaasa, Pori and Oulu obtained navigational rights, which had considerable consequences for their later development and for the whole of Ostrobothnia.

The politician and polemist

Chydenius participated very actively in the Diet, and published several articles criticising the dominant political economics of mercantilism, based upon regulation, limits and monopolies. The most famous of these articles, which caused a great stir, was 'The National Gain'. Concrete results of Chydenius' activities at the Diet were for example a stricter control of the national economy and an extension of the freedom of the press, which he considered himself to be one of his greatest achievements.

The radical

Chydenius' radical activities led in the end to his exclusion from the Diet at the hands of his own political party (the so-called Cap-wearers). In the last resort the cause was his article on monetary politics, which criticised a decision of the estates of the realm.

The shepherd of God

In 1770 Chydenius was appointed rector of Kokkola. He began to concentrate more than ever upon parish work, which he considered a most important task. His musical interests also thrived, he maintained his own orchestra, and rehearsed with them. They gave concerts in the rectory's reception hall.

Human rights

Chydenius once again participated in the Diet in the years 1778-79, at which amongst other matters the position of hired hands was brought up. Chydenius strongly championed the rights of the servant class, and called for the creation of an open employment market. He introduced a bill, at the suggestion of King Gustavus III, by which foreigners were also granted limited rights to the practice of their own religion.

The church builder

Chydenius participated in the Diet once more in 1792. He was once again strongly active as a writer, covering for example the development of agriculture, the burning of saltpeter, smallpox, and the settlement of Lapland. One of his main tasks during his latter years was the supervision of the building of the extension to the old parish church. Chydenius died in 1803.