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Was Emancipation a Success or a Failure

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Was Emancipation a success or a failure?

After the death of Nicholas I during the Crimean war it was up to his son Alexander II to end the war by signing a peace treaty in Paris and to learn from his father's mistakes to restore Russian power. Alexander's greatest political reform that would change Russia was the Emancipation of Russia's Serfdom. Unlike Nicholas was known as the "Iron Tsar" and crushed peasant uprising throughout Europe, Alexander believed in more pragmatic and enlightened approach in his policies.

Known as the "tsar-liberator" Alexander II was a patriot and believed in doing the right thing to help improve Russia and acted as a conservative to emancipate the serfs. Russian serfdom evolved gradually throughout the history of Russia and was introduced for "state interests and form inception, Russian serfdom generated an extremely complex and, for the most part, unwritten assortment of rights, obligations, and exceptions that varied from place to place." (Dmytryshyn pg 304) Russian serfdom was one of the principal barriers to economic, social, cultural, and political progress, and made it almost impossible for someone to advance upwards in a social class. You were either born into the nobility or you were a serf and were treated as property. The treatment of serfs varied from what Nobel they were working for and had to pay their masters in mostly in labor when they did not have cash. Serfs were not even allowed to marry or move with out there master's permission and had to pay taxes to the government and serve in the military when called upon.

Alexander wanted to help his people out by improving their living conditions and launched a campaign as soon as he became Emperor to abolish serfdom. Alexander believed that in order for Russia to progress and evolve in the modern world there needed to be reforms and as Emperor it was his duty to take the initiatives and make changes in Russia. "Autocracy created serfdom and it is up to autocracy to abolish it.' (Mackenzie pg 300 Mackenzie) In 1856 Alexander gave a speech to the Russian Nobility stating that "It is better to begin to abolish serfdom from above than to wait until it begins to abolish itself from below. I ask you gentleman, to think over how all this can be carried out." (MacKenzie pg 300) The Nobles felt apathy for the serfs but were not entirely ready to fully support Emancipation so Alexander would have to use his autocratic power to get the job done.



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