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Stanisław Staszic
Born November 6, 1755
Piła
Died January 20, 1826
Warsaw
Occupation Philosopher and writer

Stanisław Staszic (November 6, 1755 - January 20, 1826) was a Polish priest, philosopher, statesman, geologist, scholar, poet and writer, a leader of the Polish Enlightenment, famous for works related to the "Great" or "Four-Year Sejm" (1788–1792) and its Constitution of May 3, 1791.

Contents

Life

Staszic was born into a burgher family in the town of Piła. He graduated from a Jesuit school in Poznań and was ordained a Catholic priest. Between 1779 and 1781 he continued his theological studies in France and Germany. He also spent some time abroad between 1790–1791 and 1794-1797.

Due to his burgher origin, he was barred from owning land and holding many official posts in the monarchical Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but due to the friendship of Józef Wybicki he got a position of a tutor in the house of the great chancellor, Andrzej Zamoyski.

Stanisław Staszic medal for scholarly achievements, given to students at AGH University of Science and Technology, Kraków.

Staszic was a strong partisan of reforms and an ardent advocate of the interests of the lower classes, especially the peasants. A physiocrat, monist, pan-Slavist (after 1815) and laissez-fairist, he was a leading supporter of the reforms introduced by the May Constitution of Poland of 1791. He advocated the abolition of the second serfdom and improvements of the peasants fate (by granting them land and private rights). Founded the Hrubieszowskie Towarzystwo Rolnicze (Hrubieszów Agricultural Society) in 1816, the first Polish cooperative.

After the partitions of Poland, he organized mining schools, societies of learning, departments of industry and arts. From 1808 he was director of the Society of Friends of Learning (Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk), predecessor to the Polish Academy of Sciences (Polska Akademia Nauk). After the fall of the Duchy of Warsaw in 1815, he became a member of the Council of State of the successor Congress Poland.

He studied and wrote about geography and geology, discovered coal in Dąbrowa Górnicza, where he initiated the building of a coal mine. He was also an active supporter of industrial development in Poland. Between 1816 and 1824, he was de facto minister of industry of the Congress Poland and began construction of the Old Polish Industrial Area (Staropolski Okręg Przemysłowy), with steel and zinc mills around Kielce and Sandomierz. The Imperial Russian authorities praised Staszic's accomplishments in Russian-administered Congress Poland.

He died in Warsaw in 1826. His testament left his property at Hrubieszów to its tenants.

Awards

Works

His best-known works include:

  • Remarks upon the Life of Jan Zamoyski (Uwagi nad życiem Jana Zamoyskiego, 1787)
  • Warnings for Poland (or Warnings to Poland, Przestrogi dla Polski, 1790)
  • On the Origin of Mountains in Former Sarmatia and Later Poland (O ziemorództwie gór dawnej Sarmacji, potem Polski, 1815)
  • On the Reasons of Jewish Noxiousness (O przyczynach szkodliwości Żydów, 1818)
  • Humankind (Ród Ludzki, 1820)
  • A Polish translation of Homer's Iliad (1815).

Quotes

  • "Even a worthy nation can fall, but only a worthless one can perish"
  • "People will not work their best until they are [...] owners of their land"

See also

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