What kind of a man was Jón Sigurðsson?

Iceland's most scholarly politician
„When Jón Sigurðsson started his involvement in politics he was thirty years old. The previous seven years he had worked quietly on his studies of manuscripts in the archives of Copenhagen and gathered a unique knowledge of Iceland's history, it's economy and it's trades. He was without a doubt the most scholarly of Iceland's politicians and the joy of the scholar was one of the strongest traits of his character. It was definitely hard to find a politician in other countries who let his nation's history serve it's cause in the present with as rich a reward as Jón Sigurðsson did.“

Sverrir Kristjánsson, historian.

A leader by nature
Jón Sigurðsson was a gentleman and a leader by nature. He knew it but he did not let it go to his head. He was an equal and co-worker of his followers. He said that to suffer bonds was as neccessary for the individual as it was for nations. Freedom without bonds, without limits, was not freedom but lack of discipline and anarchy. He believed that every nation would be successful if it had the ability to recognize the resources of its country and use them in the proper manner.
What has been committed to paper here must not be interpreted as testimony that this Icelandic leader was a man totally without a fault. That is of course far from the truth even though his nation has had a tendency to elevate him to the clouds as is often the case with leaders. On the other hand it cannot be denied that Jón Sigurðsson was a personality of unusual cut who was favoured by fortune. He was himself a fortunate man and a fortunate man for his people, as an eminent scholar, Dr. Sigurður Nordal, put it so aptly.

The Icelandic Literary Society
In the spring of 1851 Jón was elected president of the Copenhagen Chapter of the Literary Society, while he was on board ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on his way to the National Convention in Iceland. This was done without consulting him but he had previously been the Society´s secretary for some years. His work for the Society increased steadily and he was its president until he died. Because of this position at the Society he was soon to become called Jón forseti - President Jón.


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