Vyshnegradsky, Ivan Alexeyevich

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(18311895), scientist and mechanic, Russian finance minister from 1887 to 1892.

Ivan Vyshnegradsky was born into a priest's family. After graduating from the Tver Theological Seminary and later from the Main Pedagogical Institute, he taught mathematics and mechanics (engineering) at St. Petersburg military educational institutions, headed the department of mechanics at the St. Petersburg Technological Institute, and served as the Institute's director from 1875 to 1878. Vyshnegradsky is known as a prominent scientist in the sphere of mechanics and mechanical engineering and also as the author of several fundamental works and manuals. He participated in managing a number of joint-stock companies and earned fame as a talented entrepreneur. By the time he was appointed a government minister, his fortune amounted to nearly a million rubles. In 1884 Vyshnegradsky became a member of the Council of the Minister of Public Instruction. He drew up a program for technical education and participated in the composition of the university code.

In 1886 he was appointed a member of the State Council and in 1887 became the head of the Ministry of Finance. In this post, Vyshnegradsky, like his predecessor Nikolai Bunge, pursued a policy aimed at settlement of the budget deficit, stronger government interference in setting freight rates for private railways, nationalization of the least profitable railways, support of domestic industry, and preparation of a monetary reform. By increasing indirect taxes, converting state loans and reducing interest payments on them, encouraging grain exports and limiting imports, and increasing railway freight rates, Vyshnegradsky managed to balance the budget, accumulate gold reserves, strengthen the paper ruble, and prepare the introduction of gold circulation. In 1891 a new tariff, the most protectionist in Europe, was introduced. It signified the transition from a safeguard system of tariffs to a consistently protective one. In order to ease criticism on the part of landowners and rightists, Vyshnegradsky described his course as nationalist and supported landlords through the Nobleman's Bank (Dvoryansky bank ). In 1892 he was discharged from office for health reasons.

See also: economy, tsarist; ministries, economic


Stepanov, Valery Leonidovich. (1996). "Three Ministers of Finance in Postreform Russia." Russian Studies in History 35(2).

Boris N. Mironov