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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.