Presentation on theme: "Russia: Reform and Reaction Chapter 23, Section 5."— Presentation transcript:
Russia: Reform and Reaction Chapter 23, Section 5
Conditions in Russia By 1815, Russia was not only the largest, most populous nation in Europe but also a great world power. Peter the Great and Catherine the Great had expanded Russian territory all across Asia. Other European nations viewed Russia as a colossus, or giant, with misgivings. It has immense natural resources, global influence, and an autocratic government.
Obstacles to Progress Russia began to lag behind its European neighbors because of lack of social programs and economic reforms. The czars were worried about giving up their absolute powers in order to help their people. Serfdom prevailed in Russia as lower-class citizens were bound to their masters. This created a situation where landowning nobles had no reason to improve agriculture or industry. A large labor supply in Russia meant that few landowners invested in machines that could speed up agricultural labor.
Russian Absolutism Alexander I When Alexander I inherited the throne in 1801, he seemed open to liberal ideas. The invasion of Napoleon’s army, however, changed his mind. He feared losing the support of the nobles. He attended the Congress of Vienna and joined the conservative powers in opposing liberal and nationalist impulses in Europe.
Revolt and Repression When Alexander I died in 1825, a group of army officers led an uprising known as the Decembrist Revolt. These officers had picked up liberal ideas while fighting Napoleon in Western Europe and now demanded a new constitution and other reforms. The new czar, Nicholas I, suppressed the Decembrists and cracked down on all dissent. Nicholas I used police spies to hunt out critics. He banned books from Western Europe that might spread liberal ideas. Many Russians with liberal or revolutionary ideas were judged to be insane and shut up in mental hospitals. Up to 150,000 others were exiled to Siberia.
Nicholas I and Absolutism To strengthen his regime, Nicholas I embraced the three pillars of Russian absolutism in the motto “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationalism.” Orthodoxy – the strong ties between the Russian Orthodox Church and the government Autocracy – the absolute power of the state Nationalism – Respect for Russian traditions and suppressions of non-Russian groups within the empire. Attempts made by Nicholas to help modernize his country were weak and mostly ineffectual.
Reforms of Alexander II Alexander II came to the throne in 1855 during the Crimean War. The war, which ended in a Russian defeat, revealed the country’s backwardness. Liberals demanded changes and students demonstrated for reform. Pressed from all sides, Alexander II finally agreed to reforms. In 1861, he issued a royal decree that emancipated the serfs. Emancipation proved problematic because the serfs often could not afford to buy sufficient land to live off of. Many migrated to the city where they helped to slowly begin the process of Russian industrialization.
Other Reforms Alexander II also set up a system of local government. Elected assemblies, called zemstvos, were made responsible for matters such as road repair, schools, and agriculture. At the local level, at least, Russians gained some experience in self-government. The czar also introduced legal reforms such as trial by jury, easing censorship, and changing military policies. Since many women were denied education in Russia, many studied abroad in the few universities that would accept them. Many of these women came to support revolutionary goals.
Reaction to Change Alexander II’s reforms failed to satisfy many Russians. Peasants had freedom but no land Liberals wanted a constitution and an elected legislature Radicals, who had adopted ideas from the west, demanded even more revolutionary changes The czar, meanwhile, moved away from reform and toward repression.
“Go to the People” Movement In the 1870s, some socialists carried the message of reforms to the peasants. These educated men and women went to live with peasants in order to spread their ideas but met little success. The peasants scarcely understood them and sometimes turned them over to the police. The failure of the “Go to the People” movement, combined with renewed government repression, sparked anger among radicals. Some turned to terrorism to achieve their political goals. In March 1881, assassins used bombs to kill the czar.
Crackdown Alexander III responded to his father’s assassination by reviving the harsh methods of Nicholas I. He increased the power of the secret police, restored strict censorship, and exiled critics to Siberia. The czar also launched a program of Russification aimed at suppressing the culture of non- Russian people in the empire. Pogroms, or violent attacks on Jews, were officially encouraged by the government, Large numbers of Russian Jews fled to the United States during this time.
Building Russian Industry Under Alexander III and his son, Nicholas II, Russia finally entered into the industrial age. New railroads connected iron and coal mines to factories. Loans from France helped to build the Trans-Siberian Railroad. As peasants flocked to the cities with hope of a new beginning, they met harsh working conditions, low pay, and long hours. Radicals sought supporters among the new industrial workers. At factory gates, socialists handed out pamphlets that preached the revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx. One of these revolutionaries was a young Vladimir Ulyanov, or V.I. Lenin.