March 28 (April 8), 1764 in St. Petersburg, into a noble family, was born Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov, Russian statesman, an honorary member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1803), one of the founders of the Russian-American Company.
Nikolai Rezanov received a good education at home, knew five foreign languages.
In 1778 Nikolai entered the military service: first, he served in the artillery, and then in the Izmailovsky Regiment, Life Guards Division; was responsible for the protection of Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1780. He soon retired with the rank of captain and in the mid-1780s entered the civil service in the Pskov Chamber of Civil Court, and then in the St. Petersburg Exchequer. He served as Chief of Staff to Count N. G. Chernyshov, and later was transferred to this same post to G. R. Derzhavin.
In 1794 Rezanov went to Irkutsk, where he participated in the inspection of the company of Grigory I. Shelikof, Siberian merchant. After the merchant’s death, on the basis of Shelikof’s industries, was established an exclusive United American Company (known as the Russian-American Company) and Rezanov was appointed the authorized correspondent of the company at the Government, while keeping the position of the Procurator of the Senate. Thanks to his efforts many famous people, including members of the imperial family, had been attracted as shareholders.
In 1803 Tsar Alexander I appointed Rezanov first Russian envoy to Japan to establish trade between the countries, which was quite problematic, since Japan had over the past 150 years led policy of strict isolationism. It was decided to combine this mission with the first Russian circumnavigation expedition aboard "Nadezhda" and "Neva", commanded by I. F. Krusenstern (1803-1806).
From September 26 (October 8), 1804 to 6 (18) April, 1805 Rezanov had been in Japan, but the purpose of his mission was not achieved due to resistance of the Japanese government.
In 1805-1806 Nikolai Petrovich made an inspection trip to Russian America and an expedition to Spanish California, where he agreed on the establishment of trade relations between the Russian and the Spanish possessions in the Pacific (his engagement to the daughter of the Spanish commandant of San Francisco Konsepsia de Ar-guello had much aided to the fact). He managed to deliver food to in New Archangelsk, which was necessary due to mass diseases caused by starvation in the winter of 1805-1806. On his return from California, Rezanov organized an expedition of Khvostov and Davydov, whose tasks included the ousting of the Japanese from the South Sakhalin and the protection of the Russian possessions at the Kuril Islands.
Visiting Russian settlements in America, in 1806 Rezanov returned to Russia through the Okhotsk. Having sent the ship away, he went to St. Petersburg by land. His broken health forced Rezanov to make stops for the treatment and, before reaching St. Petersburg, he died in Krasnoyarsk on 1 (13) March 1807. 13 (25) March Nikolai Petrovich was buried in the cemetery of the Resurrection Cathedral.
During the trip, N. Rezanov kept a diary, had written a "Dictionary of Japanese Language" and a "Guide to learning the Japanese language", which contains the alphabet and original rules of grammar and conversation.
Lit.: Истомин А. А. Два варианта письма Н. П. Резанова графу Н. П. Румянцеву от 17/29 июня 1806 г. Сравнительно-текстологический анализ и легенда о великой любви // Русское открытие Америки. М., 2002. С. 388-401.
Командор Резанов: сайт. 2003. URL: http://rezanov.krasu.ru/.
From the Presidential library materials:
Грамота Императора Александра I Императору Японии о желании установить торговые отношения и направления с этой целью в Японию камергера Н. П. Резанова, а также о возвращении на родину 10 японцев, потерпевших кораблекрушение [Документ] : 30 июня 1803 г. (АВП РИ Ф. СПб. ГА, I-7 Оп. 6, 1802 г. Д. 1, п. 23, л. 2об.);
Грамота японских властей, данная А. Лаксману, о разрешении «одному великороссийского государства судну иметь вход в гавань Нангасакскую» [Документ] : 1793 г. (АВП РИ Ф. СПб. ГА, I-7 Оп. 6, 1802 г. П. 26, л. 53);