Adolf Ivar Arwidsson
Humanist of the day

Adolf Ivar Arwidsson

Adolf Ivar Arwidsson was a poet, historian and librarian. Arwidsson is best known for his political writing, which led to his dismissal from the university and exile in Sweden. The comment “Swedes we are not, Russians we do not want to become, let us then be Finns” is often attributed to Arwidsson; however, this is something he neither said nor wrote.

Adolf Ivar Arwidsson

Adolf Ivar (Johan) Arwidsson
Born August 7, 1791, Padasjoki. Died June 21, 1858, Vyborg.

Bachelor of Arts, 1814, Master of Arts, 1815, the Royal Academy of Turkku
Studies at Uppsala University 1817-18

Amanuensis 1825–34, senior amanuensis 1834–43, Chief Librarian, National Library of Sweden (Stockholm)
Docent in History 1817–22, the Royal Academy of Turku
Journalist 1821, Åbo Morgonblad

Curator of the Finnish nation 1818, Uppsala University

Swedish Order of the Polar Star 1851

Photo: National Library of Sweden, J. Cardon
Written by Tomas Sjöblom
Translated by Matthew Billington

Adolf Ivar Arwidsson, son of a chaplain from Padasjoki, was born in 1791. The family later moved to Laukaa when his father was appointed vicar of the local parish. As an upper-secondary school pupil, Arwidsson experienced the Finnish War of 1808–09 and its aftermath, which was hard on rural Laukaa. These experiences had a notable influence on his later anti-Russian views.

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Adolf Ivar Arwidsson, better known for his political writing, had been a poetry enthusiast since his study years. His oldest known poem is Lifvets svärmeri from 1813. At first Arwidsson’s poems were adorations of carefree life and pleasures. Not long after, however, the topics of his poetry turned political.

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