Presidents of Comitee

1856 – 1878 Piotr Moszyński

Ludwik Dębicki, in his biography Moszyński „Wspomnienie pośmiertne” (“Posthumous Memoirs”), wrote: „To succinctly put the scores of persecution, how he toiled and suffered throughout his life, and yet never managed to break him, lets say that Piotr Moszyński was a unhappy, as unhappy is Poland.” The future president of the Committee was born in 1800 in the village of Łoniów, in the Sanodmierz district. He was born into an old noble family of Nałęcz coat of arms. Thanks to a marriage to a wealthy distant relative, Joanna Moszyńska, which he married when he was 18, he became very rich. When he was 23 he was elected the Marshal of nobles in the Volhyn governorship. He held that seat with talent and courage, so required when dealing with Russian oppressors.

The first half of the 19th century was noted as a breeding ground for secret societies. The young marshal also entered the secret Templar Society. Arrested at the onset of 1826 and persecuted he was sentenced after three years for 12 years of Siberian exile. He spent them in Tombolsk where he was deeply respected by his colleagues exiles. After he returned from Siberia in 1840 he came to Krakow. As a former exile, a very intelligent man and wealthy as well, he soon was well thought of in the city. This former conspirator now joined the conservative society. He was one the founders of the club „Dawny Resurs Krakowski” (“Old Krakow Resource”), which was a meeting place for landowners and aristocrats from Krakow and the surrounding area. During the troubles of 1846 and 1848 he tried to stop his compatriots from any radical actions. During Spring of Nations he commanded the Krakow National Guard. During the famine in 1846-47 and after the fire of 1850 he was recognised as not only a generous person but also a great organiser. Many of the poor in Krakow used his support. One of them was the once famous, but later very poor poet Anna Libera. He also remembered about the poor in his last will, where he made several provisions for the needy.

The social work of Piotr Moszyński was very extensive. He was not only the President of the Committee, but also the honorary member of Krakow Science Society, a member of Polish Agricultural Society and the Society for Insurance against Fire. He famous for, not only in Krakow, his collections and his passion for them. Throughout his life he added many items to all those he inherited. He bought libraries of dead Krakovian scientists, thus saving them from being fragmented and sold piece by piece. He became famous for his trip to Odessa when he managed to save and bring to Krakow a collection of valuable prints and manuscripts which once belonged to the Tulczyn Potockis. 

Piotr Moszyński in August 1879 and was buried in the Rakowice cemetary. During the funeral a crown of thorns was laid on his coffin. But, as documented by Stanisław Tarnowski, no one was surprised or offended by that symbol. Piotr Moszyński's private life could not be called happy. His first wife left him when he was exiled. His second wife, whom he wed after returning from Siberis, after ten years of marriage and five children suffered an incurable disease. His son, Emanuel, born in 1843 died in the battle of Miechów on the 17th of February 1863.

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