Alexander Nikolaevich Radishchev (August 20 (31), 1749, Moscow - September 12 (24), 1802, St. Petersburg) - Russian writer, philosopher, poet, director of the St. Petersburg customs and a member of the Commission for drafting laws.
Alexander Nikolaevich Radishchev was born on August 20, 1749 into a family of noble roots. Radishchev's grandfather was an orderly for Peter I, then served in the Guards troops. Radishchev's father, being a very educated person, preferred the military service to housekeeping. Alexander himself was the first child in the family.
Radishchev was educated according to the gymnasium program, then was sent to Leipzig to continue his education. After returning to St. Petersburg, Radishchev was appointed a protocol officer in the Senate.
Alexander Nikolaevich devoted his whole life to literary work. Many works on historical, political and philosophical themes belong to him. The most famous work - "Travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow" - was completed in 1790. In the same year, for distributing this book, Radishchev was arrested and sent to Siberian exile, where he spent five years. Until 1801, Alexander Nikolaevich lived under the constant supervision of the police.
Then, at the request of AR Vorontsov, Radishchev became a member of the Commission for the Drafting of Laws, here he worked for the rest of his life. Radishchev died on September 12, 1802.
Serfs were the tutors of Alexander Radishchev. In the early years of Nikolai's life, they taught him to write and read. It was then that the child discovered the hardships of the life of the peasants - from the serfs he learned about the cruelty of the neighboring landowners. The stories of their abuse of the serfs left a deep imprint on the boy's soul, which later turned into hatred of the oppressors. Upon reaching the age of six, a Frenchman was invited into the house, who later turned out to be a fugitive soldier. And he practically did not know French. I had to part with him. In 1756, the father took his son to Moscow - to the house of a relative of his mother. The latter was the nephew of the director of Moscow University. Alexander Radishchev began his studies at the gymnasium program of the university. True, he received knowledge at home, but just like high school students he attended exams, participated in disputes, and had access to a bookstore at the university. Alexander read a lot.
In 1762, Alexander Radishchev became a page. By this time he was a young man who had received an excellent education. As a result, he was enrolled in the court service. He became a page. In 1764, Alexander made his first journey. As part of the Corps of Pages, he accompanied the Empress from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Arriving in Petersburg, he found himself completely alone in a city unfamiliar to him; here he spent more than two years - from 1764 to 1766.
Radishchev was sent to study in Germany. In 1766, the empress sent twelve young noblemen abroad to the University of Leipzig. Alexander Radishchev also set out to comprehend legal sciences. Among the young people, Fyodor Vasilyevich Ushakov was noticeably different - being the oldest (at that time he was 19 years old), he had an acute thirst for knowledge (for this he even abandoned an advantageous job as an official), thanks to which he soon became the head of the group. Studying in Leipzig lasted five years ... In addition to studying the subjects provided by the program, Alexander Radishchev was interested in literature, foreign languages, medicine. Students began to come to Russia in 1771.
Alexander Nikolaevich's literary activity began while studying in Leipzig. Here he began to translate a brochure by the politician Geek, which had a political theme. The choice of this particular topic for translation speaks of the corresponding hobbies of Radishchev.
In 1771, Radishchev was promoted to the post of a recorder. After returning to his homeland, Alexander Nikolaevich became a protocol officer in the Senate. He received the rank of titular councilor.
Radishchev did not confine himself to working in the Senate. In his spare time, he was engaged in the translation of the work of G.B. de Mable, a famous French thinker. In the summer of 1773, Alexander Nikolaevich wrote an autobiographical novel. It was called The Diary of a Week. Work in such an institution as in the Senate provided the young author with a huge amount of material for reflection on the fate of the country, the established state system, etc. Radishchev described some details of his service in his work. True, this work saw the light after many years - the story was published only in 1811 (after the death of the author).
Alexander Nikolayevich learned about the beginning of the uprising under the leadership of Pugachev in the Finnish division. Here he received the post of a regimental judge. It is likely that Radishchev personally saw the execution of Pugachev on January 10, 1775. This uprising led Alexander Nikolaevich to the idea of how much autocracy harms the development of the country, as well as to the fact that getting rid of oppressive serfdom is possible only with the help of an armed struggle.
In March 1775, Alexander Nikolaevich insisted on resignation. However, after a while Radishchev was accepted to the post of legal consul. Count Vorontsov, who occupies a prominent place among state dignitaries, appreciated the abilities of Alexander Nikolaevich and contributed to the appointment of Radishchev to a higher post. In 1780 he became assistant manager of the Petersburg customs, where he served until 1790. Then he was appointed manager of the St. Petersburg customs.
The best works of art by Alexander Nikolaevich Radishchev date back to the 80s of the 18th century. It was during these years that excellent historical, artistic and journalistic works were created. In 1780 Radishchev wrote The Lay of Lomonosov. Alexander Nikolaevich's ode "Liberty", written in the period from 1781 to 1783, opened the Russian revolutionary direction in literature. In 1788, Radishchev finished working on his second autobiographical story. Its content included a description of Radishchev's studies in Leipzig. He spoke about his comrades, with whom he whiled away his university years, as well as the important role of education and upbringing. In the same years, Alexander Nikolaevich wrote several treatises on the history of the Fatherland and the state of customs in the Russian Empire.
Radishchev is a member of the Society of Verbal Sciences. He entered it in the second half of the 80s. At the meetings of the society, Radishchev read his articles, in which he discussed nobility, compassion, good manners and other virtues.
Radishchev is the author of Travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow. The main book in Radishchev's life was completed in 1790. This work immortalized the name of Alexander Nikolaevich in the memory of his descendants. Only the empress did not appreciate his efforts at all, she called him a "rebel", and even worse than Pugachev - such acute problems were covered in this book. Nobody dared to publish this work of Radishchev, so Alexander Nikolaevich took up this business personally - he organized a printing house on the second floor of his St. Petersburg house. Radishchev was able to publish about 650 copies of the book, some of which were already on sale in May 1790. Radishchev presented several copies to his friends. What did Catherine the Great dislike when she actually read this book? Its main theme was the inhuman relationship of landowners with their serfs. But more than that, he dared to justify the armed revolt of the peasants against the cruel masters - to change the state system, in his opinion, could only be an uprising.
For his beliefs, Radishchev was arrested. It happened on June 30, 1790. Colonel Goremykin arrived at his house and presented an arrest warrant. Radishchev was imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress, and the investigation into his case lasted two weeks. The verdict passed by the Petersburg Chamber of the Criminal Court sounded menacing - Alexander Nikolaevich Radishchev was sentenced to death. However, the empress did not approve it, the likelihood of public discontent was too great. A. N. Radishchev was sent into exile for a period of 10 years. The place of exile was Siberia - Ilimsky prison.
An interesting fact is that, after Alexander Nikolaevich, some of his peasants, or rather, of the former peasants, went to the place of exile - before his arrest, he gave them freedom.
Radishchev went to Siberia in a light dress. By September 8, 1790, he could barely stay on his feet - exhaustion and tremendous nervous tension affected. In addition, he set off in a light dress. Probably, Catherine was thinking about Radishchev's death on the road, then the public would not be as alarmed as in the case of a possible execution. However, Count A. Vorontsov, when he learned that Alexander Nikolayevich was being taken to prison, ordered the Tver governor to buy Radishchev everything he needed - Vorontsov personally sent him the money.
"Travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow." was prohibited. Radishchev burned a significant part of the published books with his own hand even before his arrest. 6 copies were found by the relevant authorities and destroyed. Less than fifteen copies of "Travel from St. Petersburg to Moscow" published by Radishchev have survived to this day.
The problems that Alexander Nikolaevich Radishchev highlighted in his work continued to trouble the minds of Russian people for another century. And how much the book has endured persecution! Even in 1905, all attempts to publish the book in full were thwarted by the authorities, who saw in it an undermining of the monarchist foundations and revolutionary notes in the author's mood. Radishchev was accused of encroaching on the good name of important nobles, especially government officials, as well as convincing the peasants of the need for violent action against the landlords.
Alexander Nikolaevich Radishchev spent five years in exile in Siberia. In the Ilimsk prison, he was engaged in social activities and domestic work: he healed, personally vaccinated against smallpox (knowledge of medicine here was useful to him), conducted various experiments on smelting ore, built a smelting furnace in his home, which he used to burn dishes. However, the most important occupation for Radishchev in Siberia also remained literature - among his works and philosophical treatises, the story of Ermak, as well as historical investigation.
Alexander Nikolaevich was freed from exile by the new tsar - Paul I, he ordered him to live in his village. But Radishchev never became a completely free man - he lived constantly under police supervision. Police representatives could show up at the estate of Alexander Nikolaevich at absolutely any time they liked. They had every right to read all of Radishchev's letters, copied their contents and provided copies to Pavel I. Such a life was very difficult, only work saved Radishchev.
After the end of the term of exile, Radishchev did not become free. In 1800, when the ten-year term of exile, allotted to Radishchev by Empress Catherine the Great, ended, Paul I did not stop supervising Alexander Nikolaevich.
Alexander I freed Radishchev. The amnesty decree was issued by the new emperor on May 31, 1801. Count A. Vorontsov assisted in the return of the title of nobility to Alexander Radishchev. He could live in Petersburg again and was even included in the Commission for the Drafting of Laws, in which he worked until the last days of his life. At the age of 53 - in 1802 - he died, the circumstances of his death are not fully understood, because his last words were "The offspring will avenge me." Most likely, in them he expressed his compassion for the serfs, hope for the mind of the autocrats and resentment for the state order of Russia.