November 27 (December 9) 1842 in Moscow was born an eminent Russian revolutionary and theorist of anarchism, geographer Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin.
Russian princely family of Kropotkins had been known since the middle of the 15th century - it was one of the distant side branches of Rurikids. Peter’s father, Alexey, was major-general and major landowner, and his grandfather from his mother’s side - a hero of the Patriotic War of 1812, General N. Sulima. Kropotkin studied in the 1st Moscow classical school, after which he entered the Page Corps - an elite military school. In 1862, having graduated from the Corps, he received the rank of officer, and on his own will was assigned for service in the Amur Cossack cavalry. Kropotkin soon became an official for special assignments to the Governor of the Transbaikal, B. K. Kukel. In this capacity, he participated in a number of geographical, ethnographic and geological expeditions to Eastern Siberia, Baikal and Manchuria.
In 1867, Kropotkin retired from military service and entered the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of the St. Petersburg University. At the same time he joined the Statistics Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, headed by a prominent researcher and scholar P. P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky. Soon Peter A. became a member of the Russian Imperial Geographical Society and met with prominent geographers and travelers such as N. N. Miklukho-Maclay, N. A. Severtsov, A. P. Fedchenko and N. M. Przhevalsky. Kropotkin combined his scientific career with socio-political: in 1872 during a trip abroad, he joined the Jura Federation - the Swiss section of the First International, whose leader and inspirer was M. A. Bakunin, and after returning to Russia, joined the circle of "Tchaikovsky "- an important populist organization. As a member of the organization he took part in the revolutionary agitation of the workers and the "going to the people" in 1874.
In April 1875, at the Russian Geographical Society, Kropotkin delivered a lecture on the existence of the glacial epoch, which caused a sensation in the scientific community. But the next day, Peter was arrested on charges of involvement in the revolutionary movement and imprisoned in the Peter and Paul Fortress. On the personal order of Alexander II, Kropotkin was authorized to research in the prison, which resulted in the book "Studies on the Ice Age," where he justified the new theory. Soon Kropotkin due to poor health was transferred to the hospital, from where in the summer of 1876, he made a successful escape and managed to leave Russia.
In the 1870-1880's Kropotkin, living mainly in Switzerland and France, was playing a significant role in the European socio-political movement: actively published his works in various editions, a few times was under arrest and investigation. In 1886, he moved to England. The emigration had finally formed political views of Kropotkin. He developed and completed the basic ideas of the founders of anarchism, P. J. Proudhon and Bakunin. Kropotkin was a supporter of the social revolution, in which he saw the conscious act of the people, not a spontaneous rebellion, as believed Bakunin. After the implementation of the complete expropriation of all sources of exploitation, establishment of the direct exchange and the integration of labor, the society of the future was supposed to become a union of free communities, united by a free contract, and human activities should be based on the principles of mutual aid, solidarity and self-sacrifice.
In the early 1900's Peter actively participated in the activities of a number of anarchist organizations that supported the First Russian Revolution of 1905-1907. With the beginning of the World War I he took the defensive position. After the February Revolution, after 40 years of exile, Kropotkin returned to Russia, where he was enthusiastically welcomed by the public and the authorities. However, he rejected an offer of A. F. Kerensky to enter the Provisional Government. Kropotkin met the October Revolution with enthusiasm, not hiding however the disagreement with certain elements of the Bolshevik policy, which he expressed, in particular, during personal meetings with V. I. Lenin.
Peter A. Kropotkin died on February 8, 1921 in the town of Dmitrov, Moscow Province at the age of 78.
Lit.: Анисимов С. С. Путешествия П. А. Кропоткина. М., 1943; Кропоткин П. А. Собрание сочинений: В 7 т. СПб., 1906-1907; Он же. Великая французская революция 1789-1793. М., 1919; Он же. Государство и его роль в революции. М., 1917; Он же. Записки революционера. М., 1966; Он же. Этика. М., 1922; Маркин В. А Неизвестный Кропоткин. М., 2002; Пирумова Н. М. Пётр Алексеевич Кропоткин. М., 1972; Соколов Н. Н. П. А. Кропоткин как географ // Труды института истории естествознания АН СССР. Т. 4. М., 1952; Старостин Е. В. П. А. Кропоткин (1842-1921): Библиографический указатель печатных трудов: В 2 т. М., 1980; Ударцев С. Ф. Кропоткин.М., 1989.
From the Presidential library materials: