By Simas Suziedelis
Simonas Daukantas (1793-1864), historian and prose writer, pioneer of the Lithuanian national revival.
He was born to a peasant family in the village of Kalviai, Samogitia, on Oc. 28, 1793. He entered the university of Vilnius in 1818, studied languages and literature for two years, and then philosophy, law and history. Daukantas received his master of philosophy degree in Jan. 1825, and went to Prussia, where he collected historical material on the past of Lithuania in the Königsberg archives. In December of 1825 he began to work as a translator in the Governor generals office in Riga. He spend ten years in this post. From march 1835 he lived from fifteen years in the capital Russia, St. Petersburg, working in the Senate office and archives, where important Lithuanian state documents of the 15th-18th century were kept and he had the opportunity of studying them. He did not return to his post in St. Petersburg after his summer vacation of 1850, which he spend in Lithuania.
Being unmarried, he was able Bishop M. Valancius. From 1861 Daukantas was looked after by the rector of Papile, rev. Ignas Vaisvila, who was arrested at the time of the 1863 insurrection. On his release he returned to Papile to find Daukantas abandoned by everyone and fallen ill; he died on Nov. 24, 1864. Twenty years after his death Rev. Vaisvila placed a memorial stone at Daukantas. ( )
In independent Lithuania (in 1930) a monument to him by the sculptor Vincas Grybas was erected in Papile.
Daukantas was the first to write a history in Lithuanian. While still a student he wrote Darbai senuju lietuviu ir zemaiciu (The deeds of Ancient Lithuanians and Samogitians, 1822). He wrote Istorija zemaitiska (A Samogitian History, 1838), Budas senoves lietuviu kalnenu ir zemaiciu (The Character of the Ancient Lithuanians and Samogitians), etc.
From the Encyclopedia Lituanica. II. Boston, 1972
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