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October 2018: Five more interesting writings by Chydenius translated into English

In 2017 the website Anders Chydenius Selected Works was launched as the final stage of a research project started over ten years ago. This site contains the principal writings of Anders Chydenius, an eighteenth-century pioneer of freedom and democracy, translated into English by Peter C. Hogg. The English site is part of a multilingual online publication, the main content of which is the scholarly edition of Chydenius’s collected works in their original language, Swedish, and translated into Finnish.

Five more translations of Chydenius’s works by Hogg have now been added to the website. Thematically, they touch upon the subject areas most important to Chydenius, such as the freedom of trade and industry, the freedom of the press and the rights of the rural working class. At the same time, these five small pieces enrich the image we have of Chydenius and highlight his versatility.

“American Birchbark Boats” (1753) was Chydenius’s master’s thesis at the Academy of Turku. The exotic subject of the dissertation originated from Professor Pehr Kalm, who had just arrived from his famous voyage to North America. Chydenius believed that lightweight Indian canoes could enhance transport and trade on Finland’s lakes.

“Three Politico-Economic Questions” (1761–62) is Chydenius’s first known political writing. The manuscript was not published during his lifetime, but it shows that he was already working with ideas about monetary policy and the position of servants and hired labour, which were central in his later writings.

“Account of the Chinese Freedom to Write” (1766) is a translation that Chydenius made from a Danish text, but the original source is “Description de la Chine” (1735), written by the French Jesuit historian Jean-Baptiste Du Halde. The text presents China as “a model country” of freedom of expression and its publication in April 1766 was clearly motivated by Chydenius’s ongoing struggle for the enactment of a Freedom of the Press Act.

“Letter to Nils von Rosenstein” (21 August 1793). Nils von Rosenstein, secretary of the Swedish Academy and tutor to the future King Gustav IV Adolf, was one of the foremost advocates of Enlightenment thinking in Sweden. Because only a few letters or other more private sources written by Chydenius are available, this letter gives an exceptional glimpse into Chydenius’s thinking after the murder of King Gustav III and during a time when the French Revolution was becoming more and more violent.

In “A Proposal for the Improvement of Lapland” (1794–95) Chydenius proposes the establishment of an economic free zone in the northernmost part of the kingdom where industry, trade and agriculture would be totally unregulated. Chydenius believed, in the optimistic spirit of the Age of Utility, that freedom of enterprise would make even the arctic wilderness flourish.