Stanisław Staszic (1755–1826) was a scholar, prominent political activist and writer, and one of Poland’s leading enlightenment thinkers. Staszic was a reformer who achieved a great deal for Polish society. He was a deist who, like Hugo Kołłątaj, preached his conviction that God underpinned the inherent order and harmony of the world without interfering in worldly affairs, and he vehemently opposed superstition, feudal oppression and the clergy’s perceived use of religion as a tool of social pressure. Staszic had a special talent for organic work. As Andrzej Walicki puts it: ‘the sheer number of his initiatives was staggering: president (from 1808 until his death) of the Society of Friends of Learning (for which he financed a palace on Krakowskie Przedmieście), an educational reformer, a promoter of learning and the director of the Department of Trade, Crafts and Industry. There would have been no Polish industry in the Old-Polish industrial region or the Dąbrowa Basin without him. He founded and financed the Hrubieszów Agricultural Society, which enabled emancipated serfs to be granted land and form self-help associations. As can be seen, this assessment, which is far from complete, encompasses very different capacities: governmental, state-sanctioned but non-governmental and purely social’.