9 (20) March 1754 in the family of an engineer-lieutenant was born Alexander S. Shishkov, Russian writer, statesman and public figure, Admiral, President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Minister of Education (1824-28), poet and scholar who played an important role in formation of the Russian literary language.
Shishkov studied at the Sea Cadet Corps in St. Petersburg, where he was one of the best students. Here he studied the special sciences relating to seamanship, as well as literature, genealogy, rhetoric, foreign languages, studied the works of M. V. Lomonosov, A. P. Sumarokov, G. R. Derzhavin.
In 1776 the young sailor made the trip on board of the frigate "Northern Eagle", which lasted for 3 years. Shishkov visited Italy, Greece and Turkey. From 1779, he began to teach naval tactics in the Sea Cadet Corps, while engaged in literary activity, mainly translations. In those years, Shishkov compiled the Anglo-French-Russian marine dictionary.
During the Russian-Swedish war of 1788-90 Shishkov commanded the frigate “Nicholas" as the 1st rank captain. For participation in the war he was awarded with a golden sword with the inscription "for bravery” and a gold, sprinkled with diamonds, snuff-box. Shortly thereafter, Shishkov was appointed chief secretary of a sea unit under Prince Zubov. After the coronation of Paul I, Shishkov was promoted to squadron-major, and then to Adjutant-General.
In the reign of Alexander I Shishkov negatively reacted to the reforms of the new ruler, thus found himself in disgrace. Having withdrawn from the court, Shishkov entirely devoted himself to scientific and literary activity, and plunged into the study of Russian language and history.
In his "Discourse on the old and new style of Russian language" (1803) Shishkov spoke in support of contemporary Russian language, which in his opinion, should be formed primarily on its own traditional basis, the core of which was Church Slavonic language, and the language of Russian chronicles, ancient works of literature. Shishkov believed that Russian language via the Church Slavonic is a direct "heir" of ancient pagan Greek antiquity and Christian Orthodox Byzantine Empire.
From 1805 the Russian Academy of Sciences had been publishing "Writings and translations", in which Shishkov, along with original and translated works, included his translation of "The Tale of Igor’s Campaign" with extensive commentary. From February 1807 on his initiative began to gather literary evenings, which, from 1810 became public and were called "Conversations of lovers of Russian word" where, in addition to literary problems, were also discussed social and political issues. Among the attendees of these evenings were G. R. Derzhavin, I. A. Krylov, N. I. Gnedich, A. S. Khvostov. Almost all members of the society were supporters of the unique identity of Russian culture. The society published its own "Readings in the conversation of lovers of Russian word" where were published such works by Shishkov as “Arguments about the beauty of the Holy Scriptures", "Talk about Literature" and "Adding to the conversation”. The "Conversations" were active until 1816.
In April 1812 Shishkov was appointed Secretary of State, having replaced M. M. Speransky who fell into disgrace. Alexander Semyonovich was at service of the emperor as a personal secretary for the preparation of manifests, decrees and other papers of the office.
In December of 1812 for "exemplary love for the Motherland" Shishkov was awarded the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky. In 1813-14 Shishkov accompanied the Russian army in foreign campaign. In August 1814 he was dismissed from the post of Secretary of State due to the state of health, but at the same time was appointed a member of the State Council and the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In this position he was one of the first who attempted to establish the Department of Slavic Studies at Russian universities, create the Slavonic Library, which would collect the monuments of literature in all Slavic languages.
In May 1824 Shishkov was appointed Minister of Education and chief of foreign affairs of religions. In June of 1826 through the efforts of the Minister was adopted a new statute of censorship ("iron"), under which were banned all historical works containing "negative position" towards monarchical rule. Shishkov fought for the national character of public education. Preference, in his opinion, should have been given to the teaching of Russian language, national history and law. In 1828, Shishkov was dismissed from the post of Minister "due to age and poor health”, but retained the title of member of the State Council and President of the Russian Academy.
Alexander S. Shishkov died on 9 (21) April 1841 in St. Petersburg and was buried in Lazarevskaya church of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. His ideas had a profound influence on literature, education, politics and ideology of the Russian state.
Lit.: Аксаков С. Т. Воспоминание об Александре Семёновиче Шишкове // Собрание сочинений: В 4 т. М., 1955. Т. 2; Альтшуллер М. Г. Александр Семенович Шишков // Против течения: исторические портреты русских консерваторов первой трети XIX столетия. Воронеж, 2005; Бобылев Б. Г. О любви к отечеству и родному языку: уроки адмирала А. С. Шишкова // Глинские чтения. 2007. Июль-август; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://www.glinskie.ru/common/mpublic.php?num=107; Михайловский М. Г. Государственный совет Российской империи. Государственные секретари. А. С. Шишков // Вестник Совета Федерации. 2007. № 6; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://www.council.gov.ru/files/journalsf/item/20070529144326.pdf; Стоюнин В. Я. Александр Семенович Шишков // Исторические сочинения. Ч. 1. СПб., 1880; Шишков А. С. Собрание сочинений и переводов: В 17 ч. СПб., 1818-1839; Шишков А. С. Морской словарь, содержащий объяснение всех названий, употребляемых в морском искусстве: В 3 т. СПб., 1832-1840; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://dlib.rsl.ru/view.php?path=/rsl01003000000/rsl01003822000/rsl01003822210/rsl01003822210.pdf#page2; Шишков А. С. Записки, мнения и переписка адмирала Шишкова: В 2 т. Берлин; Прага, 1870.
From the Presidential library materials:
Указ императора Александра I от 31 июля 1812 г. Правительствующему Сенату об учреждении Комитета Внутреннего ополчения и включении в него генерала от артиллерии гр. А. А. Аракчеева и государственного секретаря, вице-адмирала А. С. Шишкова;
Шишков А. С. Краткие записки адмирала А. Шишкова, ведённые им во время пребывания его при блаженной памяти государе императоре Александре Первом в бывшую с французами в 1812 и последующих годах войну. СПб., 1832;