The Port-Franco of Odessa of the North: Alexander Den’gin’s Development Project of the Mouth of the Pechora River in the 1820s to 1840s

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The article is devoted to a little-known episode in the history of the development of the Russian North, one that is associated with the name of the Vologda merchant Alexander Ivanovich Den’gin. The contribution brings together the available biographical information about A.I. Den’gin and characterizes his project concerning the economic development of the territory adjacent to the mouth of the Pechora River. This project he elaborated in the 1820s to 1840s; it aimed at the development of both the Pechora Region and Western Siberia by establishing regular water communication between the European and Asian parts of Russia. The article reviews the various stages in the drafting of this document, and traces its way through different instances. Filled with patriotic rhetoric, the source under consideration emphasizes not only Den’gin’s personal interest - to derive material benefits from the exploitation of the Pechora estuary - but also reflects that entrepreneurs were fully aware of the necessity to develop the northern territories in order to integrate these regions fully into the Russian Empire. A close cooperation between state authorities and representatives of private capital was considered an indispensable condition for achieving this goal. A.I. Den’gin’s note also reveals how the Russian merchant class of the pre-Reform period viewed the world. They had a very high opinion of their professional activities, which they thought were indispensable not only for the successful functioning of the economy but also for raising the general level of culture and education among the population. Commerce was seen as the most important means for achieving progress and common welfare.

About the authors

Evgeniya V. Komleva

Institute of History of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6975-3516

PhD in History, Senior Researcher of the Sector of History of the Second Half of the 16th - Early 20th Century

630090, Russia, Novosibirsk, Аkademgorodok, Nikolaeva St., 8


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