Johan Christopher Toll - Politician


Toll was liberally rewarded and more and more frequently employed as his genius as an administrator and his blameless integrity came to light. His reforms in the commissariat department were epoch-making, and the superior mobility of the Swedish forces under Gustav III was due entirely to his initiative. But it was upon Toll's boundless audacity that Gustav chiefly relied. Thus as Gustav, under the pressure of circumstances, inclined more and more towards absolutism, it was upon Toll that he principally leant. In 1783, Toll was placed at the head of the secret "Commission of National Defence " which ruled Sweden during the king's absence abroad without the privity of the Council. It was he who persuaded the king to summon the Riksdag of 1786, which, however, he failed to control, and in all Gustav's plans for forcing on a war with Russia Toll was initiated from the first. In 1786 he had already risen to the rank of major-general and was Gustav's principal adjutant. It was against Toll's advice, however, that Gustav, in 1788, began the war with Russia. Toll had always insisted that, in such a contingency, Sweden should be militarily as well as diplomatically prepared, but this was far from being the case. Nevertheless, when the inevitable first disasters happened, Toll was, most unjustly, made a scapegoat, but the later successes of the war were largely due to his care and diligence as commissary-general. After the death of Gustav III Toll was for a short time war minister and commander-in-chief in Scania and, subsequently, was sent as ambassador to Warsaw. Unjustly involved in the so-called "Armfelt conspiracy" he was condemned to two years imprisonment; but was fully reinstated when in 1796 Gustav IV attained his majority. At the Riksdag at Norrköping in 1800, he was elected marshal of the Diet (Lantmarskalk), and led the royalist party with consummate ability. On this occasion he forced the mutinous nobility or riddarhuset to accept the detested Act of Union and Security by threatening to reveal the names of all the persons suspected of complicity in the murder of the late king. Subsequently he displayed great diplomatic adroitness in his negotiations with the powers concerning Sweden's participation in the war against Napoleon.

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