I took this photo a few weeks back in Kuopio. It got to me thinking about J.V. Snellman. I knew he was an important statesman from Finnish history, but I couldn't recall much more. In other words, time for a bit of a refresher.
Johan Vilhelm Snellman was a highly popular lecturer at the University of Helsinki in the 1830s. His ideas ultimately clashed with the agenda of the imperial government and he was removed from his position.
Eventually he took up a post as a headmaster of a school in Kuopio and began to publish fiercely pro-Finnish language periodicals. Among other things he felt that the nobles and upper classes had a duty to use Finnish - the language of 85% of the population.
These opinions once again cost him his job. In 1856 the political climate had relaxed enough for Snellman to be granted a professorship at the University of Helsinki.
In 1863 he became Senator and was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer. He helped to establish a language decree that gave the Finnish language a position equal to Swedish in government. He also helped to reestablish the Finnish parliament, and helped to create an official currency for Finland - the now defunct Markka.
Snellman's popularity began to wane. The age gap between himself and the new generation of opposition, his inflexibility, and his reputation as an old agitator didn't help much. He was forced to resign from the Senate in 1868.