ALEXANDER II., NI ICOLAYEVITCH (1518 81). Emperor of Russia from 1855 to 1881, son of Nicholas 1. He was horn April 29, ISIS, and received a thorough education and military train ing,. He traveled in Germany. and in 1841 mar ried Princess Maria of Hesse-Darmstadt. He also journeyed through Russia. Siberia. and the Caucasus, and took a creditable part in the cam paigns against the Teherkesses. On succeeding to the throne (hiring the Crimean War (March 2, 1855). he assured the foreign ambassadors that he would adhere to the policy of his uncle (Alex ander 1.) and his father, hut his desire was for an honorable peace. In March, 1856, he was coin pelled to sign the humiliating Treaty of Paris. Alexander had not been in sympathy with the reactionary course of his father. While not a liberal, or an idealist like the first Alexander, he represented the intelligent thought of Russia, and believed that a transformation was needed to place it in the first rank among nations. He soon announced his intention to promote reforms, and he was encouraged in this by the shock which the Crimean War had given to the old corrupt offi cialism of the Empire. Two reform parties arose, one a liberal constitutional party, having its cen tre at St. Petersburg, the other an old Russian nationalist party, centring at Moscow. They were united only in enmity to the bureaucracy. In re sponse to their wishes and his own convictions. Alexander relaxed the censorship of the press, permitted travel, exercised a clone control over officials, recalled many who had been exiled to Siberia during the previous reign, extended edu cation, and without instituting radical changes in the machinery of the government greatly wid ened the liberty of his subjects.
The greatest of his administrative achieve ments was the emancipation of the serfs. With this, of necessity, went a reform in the system of land tenure. Nearly all of Russia was held in large estates, worked by serfs who were nominally attached to the land, hut were in fact almost as lunch at the disposal of their masters as if they had been slaves. Nine-tenths of the arable land of Russia was thus held by the imperial family and about 100,000 noble families. Naturally, the landed nobility obstructed the Czar's reform; but be pressed his point in one province after another, and had a plan for emancipation prepared. Be ginning in 1858 by freeing the serfs on the estates of the imperial family, the Czar completed the emanciption by the ukase of March 3 (February 19 Id Style), 1S61. Serfs who had been domestic
servants, not attached to the land. became free without right to property. Those who had been attached to the land were enabled by a State loan, payable six per cent. annually for forty-nine years, to purchase the interest of the former land lords in a certain share of the land. The freedmen thus became peasant proprietors, the land being held by the mins, or village communities, which could assign it to the members. Police authority was put in the hands of the communal assemblies, and larger powers of taxation, administration, and police were vested in district and provincial councils. If the economic results of this arrange ment have been slow in development, and not altogether satisfactory, the social transformation effected by the emancipation of 3,000.000 people was great and immediate. In carrying out his plan, Alexander was assisted by Nicholas MiHu th]. The Emperor also established a regular sys tem of courts. Public schools were founded after the model of Western Europe, and scientific schools were erected in addition to those devoted to the regular classical training. The army, which in the Crimean War had so disappointed Nicholas I., was reorganized on the Prussian plan. While Alexander went thus far with the liberals. the Pan-Slavism of the Nationalists found equal sympathy with him. He said to the Polish deputies: "Embrace the nnion with Russia and abandon all thoughts of independence. now and for evermore impossible. All that my father did was rightly done. My reign shall be a con tinuation of his." The Polish national move went, culminating in the insurrection of 1S63, was severely repressed, and a relentless process of Russification was instituted under Michael Muravieff. Since that time Poland has been un der what is practically martial law. After 1863 there was a gradual return to absolutism in Rus sia, and many of the liberties that had been granted were withdrawn or modified, the Czar falling more under the influence of the conserva tive Nationalist party, led by Katkoff, the Mos cow editor. For a few years the liberals contented themselves with criticism of the conservative position and legal attempts to restore their influ ence. Then began the revolutionary movement, which finally developed in the hands of a few vio lent spirits into terrorism after 1875. (See NI musm.) The socialism of Marx and Prondbon had by this time been brought in from Western Europe.