The Fennomans were the most important political movement in the 19th century Grand Duchy of Finland. After the Crimean War, they founded the Finnish Party and intensified the language strife attempting to rise the Finnish language and Finnic culture from peasant-status to the position of a national language and a national culture. The evoked opposition, the Svecomans, tried to defend the status of Swedish and the ties to the Germanic world. Although the notion of Fennomans has hardly been used by anyone after the generation of Paasikivi (born 1870), their ideas have, partly in synthesis with the legacy of the Svecomans, since dominated the Finns' understanding of their bi-lingual nation.
Many of the first generation of Fennomans were originally Swedish-speaking (mother tongue), but not all. Those Fennomans originally Swedish-speaking learned Finnish, and made a point of using it both in the society and at home, giving their children what they missed themselves: the Finnish mother tongue.
Several of the Fennomans were of Finnish or bilingual homes. Even such may have had originally Swedish surnames, as it was very common in Finland those days.
Most of the Fennomans also Finnicized their family names, particularly beginning from the end of 19th century.
In the last years of 19th century, and in the first years of 20th, Fennoman movement transformed into two political parties: the Old Finnish Party and the Young Finnish Party.
The fennoman motto was coined by Adolf Ivar Arwidsson:
- "Swedes we are no longer,
- Russians we can never become,
- so let us be Finns!"
List of prominent fennomans