This month's interesting Icelander is on Jón Sigurðsson (I174907), a man highly revered for his efforts in leading Iceland to its independence. Join Icelandic Roots as we celebrate Iceland's Independence and Jón Sigurðsson.
A search of the Icelandic Roots database for our new series of articles on Interesting Icelanders each month presented many interesting people. The month of June, with Iceland National Day celebrated on 17 June, presents someone who is also born on that date. Jón Sigurðsson was a man whose unique endeavors lead Iceland to its independence. It is no coincidence that his birthdate is that of Iceland’s National Day; a date chosen in honor of him and his accomplishments.
Born in Hrafnseyri in the Westfjords, Jón was home-schooled in the early years but later moved to Copenhagen where he was educated in classical philology, ancient history, and political theory and economics. Although he was a prolific academic, he never finished his degree. Iceland’s independence consumed his thoughts and actions.
Today, the Hrafnseyri farm is a museum dedicated to Jón Sigurðsson. It is owned by the Icelandic government and is used for all kinds of cultural activities.
Jón was always an advocate for Iceland’s right to self-government. He also led in the modernization of Iceland’s agriculture and fishing techniques. After years of struggle and influence, the Danish Government granted Iceland a limited constitution in 1874 giving autonomy in internal affairs. Until then the Althing had only been an advisory body to the Danish government and king. Jon served as speaker of the Althing from 1875 to 1877.
He died in Copenhagen in 1879. He never lived to see Iceland reach its true independence, but his legacy lives on. Many generations followed his lead and worked toward Iceland's independence.
There is a lot of information about Jón Sigurðsson and Iceland's independence. I invite you to review the list of references below this article for more reading opportunities. Also, this link from our last newsletter The Independence Celebration at Þingvellir June 17, 1944 by Bryndis Viglundsdottir recounts her experience as a child attending that momentous day in Iceland's history. The introductory article to Bryndis' story tells us the lead-up to that day and Jón Sigurðsson's involvement.
A highly revered individual that has much written about him. Jón Sigurðsson is pictured on Iceland’s 500 krónur bill as well as the Icelandic postage stamps that commemorate specific anniversaries of his birth and death. Statues of him can be seen in both Reykjavik and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
The Icelandic Roots database is full of interesting people from many generations. It is hard to choose just one each month, but we are up for suggestions! Do you have an interesting Icelander in your ancestral line? Are they someone you would like to share a story about? Send us your story. Please contact email@example.com.