Pehr KalmMarch 6, 1716 – November 16, 1779) was an explorer-botanist born in Sweden of Finnish parents. Among many of his accomplishments Kalm can be credited for the first ever written description of the Niagara Falls and the first ever comprehensive study of North American natural history.
Kalm was born in the province of Angermannia, the son of a Lutheran minister. He grew up in Finland and studied at the Academy of Åbo in Åbo (Turku), from 1735 and then Uppsala University, from 1740, where he was a student of the famous naturalist Carolus Linnaeus. Kalm was appointed associate professor in natural history and economics at Åbo Academy in 1746 and full professor in 1747. In 1747 he was chosen by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to travel to North America to find seeds and plants which might prove useful for agriculture or industry. In particular he was to send back the red mulberry, Morus rubra, in order that the silk industry could be started in Sweden.
Kalm arrived in Pennsylvania in 1748 and made his base of operations the Swedish-Finnish ex-patriate communities in southern New Jersey, where he served as pastor of a local church and married in 1750. He made trips as far west as Niagara Falls and as far north as Quebec before returning to Sweden in 1751. After his return he taught at the Academy of Åbo until his death. He established a botanical garden in Turku, Finland.
Kalm's journal of his travels was published as En Resa til Norra America (Stockholm, 1753-1761). It was translated into English in 1770 as Travels into North America. In his Species Plantarum, Linnaeus cites Kalm for 90 species, 60 of them new.
Pehr (Pietari) Kalm's student Anders Chydenius (1729-1803), also a Finn, became one of the most notable politicians and clergymen of the eighteenth century Sweden-Finland. He is most of all remembered as an outspoken defender of freedom of trade and industry. In 1765 Anders Chydenius published his book 'The National Gain' in which he proposes free trade and expresses the fundamental ideas of economic liberalism, eleven years before the publication of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.