Failure of Alexander Ii

Failure of Alexander II's Emancipation Edict
Rocky Wagner, World History 4A
      Though reluctant to ascend to the throne, Alexander II quickly saw his duty to rectify the social system that had failed Russia economically and in the Crimean War. Political prisoners were freed, censorship was mitigated, taxes made universal, some freedoms granted to Poland and the Catholic Church, and most importantly, serfdom was abolished. Russia’s humiliating defeat in the Crimean War had brought attention to the faults of the social, economical, and governmental system of Russia. The Pugachev and Decemberist revolts, although unsuccessful, demonstrated the desperate need for reform.   Alexander II launched a huge number of reforms to modernize and rebuild his empire. This was only the beginning of an era of Russian reforms, which would greatly affect the rest of the Western world over time indirectly (and blamelessly) leading to such events as the Russian Revolution and World War I.
      “Existing order of serfdom cannot remain unchanged. It is better to abolish it from above than to wait for the time when it will begin to abolish itself from below,” was the message Alexander tried to press upon the nobility of Moscow in a speech in April of 1856. The Emancipation of Serfs was officialized five years later and granted serfs their personal freedom, implemented over the course of two years.   The land on which they had previously worked for meager wages while living under wretched conditions had been made their property. Domestic serfs, however, who did not work the land were not entitled to any after their liberation. This led to simmering and often fierce hostility. Landowners were compensated for the land that they surrendered to peasants, receiving payment through government bonds. For state peasants transition to freedom lasted five years and to recover its losses the government forced peasants to pay annual “redemption dues” over the course of 49 years....