Nikolai Semenovich Mordvinov

Mordvinov, Nikolai Semenovich


Born Apr. 17 (28), 1754, in the village of Pokrovskoe, Novgorod Province; died Mar. 30 (Apr. 11), 1845, in St. Petersburg. Russian statesman and public figure, economist; a count from 1834.

Mordvinov served in the navy. From 1774 to 1777 he sailed on training voyages aboard English vessels off the shores of North America. To a certain extent he adopted the liberal ideas of the progressives in English society. In 1783, Mordvinov participated in Admiral P. V. Chichagov’s Mediterranean expedition. In 1799 he became an admiral; from 1799 to 1801 he was a member and vice-president of the Admiralty and in 1802 became minister of the navy.

Mordvinov became an associate of M. M. Speranskii and was his closest collaborator in the task of drafting a plan for the improvement of Russia’s financial system. From 1823 to 1840, Mordvinov was president of the Free Economic Society. In 1826 he was the only member of the Supreme Criminal Court who refused to sign the death sentence of the Decembrists, although at the same time condemning their methods of action.

Mordvinov’s social and economic views were full of the contradictions typical of political thought in the period of the decay of feudalism. He believed it possible to carry out a number of bourgeois economic reforms under conditions of autocratic monarchy and serfdom. In his opinion, the government should be the agent of reform. Such a government should assist the development of the forces of production, especially industry; remove feudal restrictions on private economic activity; help entrepreneurs by giving them credit on advantageous terms; defend national industry by means of a protectionist tariff; and assure that scientific and technological improvements were incorporated into the national economy. Mordvinov assigned the major role in the implementation of his program to the gentry, which would retain its dominant position in the economy. A major landowner, Mordvinov advanced a plan for the gradual liquidation of serfdom through redemption by peasants of their personal freedom without land and at extremely high prices.

Mordvinov’s most important works were The Charter of the State Bank for the Encouragement of Labor (1801), Some Thoughts on the Subject of Manufactories in Russia and on the Tariff (1815), A Discourse on the Advantages Which May Ensue From the Establishment of Private Banks in the Provinces (1816), On Measures to Improve State Revenues (1825), and On the Causes of the Always Poor Harvests and Frequent Crop Failures in Russia, Both in Grains and in Feed for Cattle (1839). Mordvinov’s numerous plans, notes, and ideas were published in The Archive of the Counts Mordvinov (vols. 1–10, 1901–03).


Izbr. proizv. Moscow, 1945.


Ikonnikov, V. S. Graf N. S. Mordvinov. St. Petersburg, 1873.
Tumanova, L. V. “Ekonomicheskie vzgliady N. S. Mordvinova.” Nauch. zap. Moskovskogo finansovogo in-ta, vol. 2. Moscow, 1952.
Istoriia russkoi ekonomicheskoi mysli, vol. 1, pt. 2. Moscow, 1958. Pages 61–81.