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Did the Russian alcohol monopoly in the 1700s cover the whole Russian territory?

Did the Russian alcohol monopoly in the 1700s cover the whole Russian territory?

Crownhart-Vaughan's introduction to her translation of Krasheninnikov's Explorations of Kamchatka mentions an Imperial monopoly on liquor, and the state's difficulty in enforcing it, in 1750s Kamchatka. One main principle of the alcohol business in Siberia was not serving native peoples.

A book called "The Russian vodka monopoly" describes another such plan, but one created in 1894.

Did the alcohol monopoly of Krasheninnikov's time cover the whole Russian territory? Were measures and prices standardized?

Did the alcohol monopoly of Krasheninnikov's time cover the whole Russian territory? Were measures and prices standardized?

The word "monopoly" can be misleading. For example, the alcohol retail was a farming business. However, the state had imposed very strict regulations on it, so both measures and prices were totally standartized.

Well, in fact, they were standartized in the most territory of the Russian Empire, but there was, at least, one exception: the Hetmanate (and the Malorossian governorate later; note that the word Ukraine was not in official use at that time) had quite a few priveleges, including non-taxed alcohol sales. That situation only changed in XIX century.

The Russian Empire (1721-1917)

The Russian Empire, which lasted from 1721 to 1917, spanned an enormous territory of almost 14 million square miles (36 million sq km) across the eastern portion of Europe and the continent of Asia. Ruled by an autocratic government, with its capital at St. Petersburg, its 170 million people were of over 100 different ethnic backgrounds, comprised primarily of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The Empire was established during the reign of Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) after Russia emerged victorious from the Great Northern War (1700-21) fought against the Swedish and Polish empires. With the majority of the population bound to serfdom, the Russian rulers attempted to modernize along Western lines, a policy that led to the freeing of the serfs in 1861 during the reign of Alexander II (r. 1855-81). Emancipation did not result in improved conditions for the peasant population and internal dissension continued to fester until the last Russian czar, Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917), was forced to abdicate on March 15, 1917, during World War I. Attempts were made to form various Western-styled governments but these failed. In October 1917, the Bolshevik Revolution, led by Vladimir Lenin, succeeded in wresting power from their political opponents and established the Soviet Empire.

The Russian Empire was the culmination of Muscovite Russia’s dominance over its neighbors in Europe and Asia, where, by the end of the 19 th century, only the British Empire was its rival in terms of size. At the height of its expansion, the Russian Empire stretched across the northern portions of Europe and Asia and comprised nearly one-sixth of the earth’s landmass it occupied modern Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Finland, the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan), the Baltic Republics (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), and significant parts of Poland and Turkey. The vast plains with few natural obstacles affected the Russian Empire’s expansion into Eastern Europe and, beyond the Ural Mountains, to the Pacific Ocean, and even into Alaska and California in North America. However, with only a coastline on north of the Arctic Ocean, the Russian Empire continually searched for a warm-water outlet.

Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) formally proclaimed the Russian Empire in 1721, which lasted almost two centuries until Russia declared itself a republic on March 15, 1917. In practice, the Empire started when Peter the Great became the sole ruler of Muscovite Russia in 1694 (his dim-witted half brother, Ivan V, remained co-czar but played no role in the government and died in 1696). Peter enacted a series of reforms to modernize Russia in every aspect of Russian life along European lines– even relocating the capital from Moscow to a new city named after him, St. Petersburg.

Peter traveled to Europe to seek allies against the Ottoman Empire and to enlist European technical specialists into his Empire. Although he was unsuccessful in forming a European alliance, Peter saw an opportunity to obtain a naval port in the Baltic Sea. The result was the Great Northern War (1700-21) between Russia and Sweden with Peter emerging victorious and obtaining the Baltic territories for his Empire. Besides securing a port with a direct link to Europe, Peter also reorganized Russian military, education, government, and even the nobility’s tastes, clothing, and customs after Europe. By the end of his reign, Peter had transformed the Muscovite state into a European empire.

After Peter’s death in 1725, a series of undistinguished rulers – Catherine I (r. 1725-27), Peter II (r. 1727-30), Anna (r. 1730-40), Elizabeth (r. 1741-62), Peter III (r. 1762) – continued the cultural “Westernization” and expansion of the Russian Empire in a series of wars: the War of Polish Succession (1733-35), the war with the Ottoman Empire (1734-39), and the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) continued the southern expansion of the Russian Empire to the Black Sea and Crimea in the Russo-Turkish War (1768-74, 1787-91) and towards the west in the Polish Partitions (1772-95), which Russia acquired significant portions of Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland.

Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) promoted the Enlightenment ideas in the Russian Empire until the Pugachev uprising (1768-74) and publication of Alexander Radishchev’s Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow (1790), where he attacked serfdom and autocracy. By the end of Catherine’s reign, the Russian Empire, with its vast population, resources, and military, was one of the most powerful actors on the world stage. However, the Empire had fundamental problems: a military that relied on coercion, a primitive economy based on serfdom, the inability to assimilate new minority nationalities, and a cultural divide between a Europeanized elite and a non-western population.

Catherine’s son, Paul (r. 1796-1801), succeeded her but was later overthrown in a coup because of his rampant corruption and reactionary response to the French Revolution. The ascension of Paul’s son, Alexander I, inaugurated a new century and history of imperial Russia. Once secured in power, Alexander I (r.1801-25) was defeated by Napoleon at Austerlitz (1805) and Friedland (1807). However, in the War of 1812, Alexander’s military repulsed Napoleon’s invasion into Russia and advanced the Russian military into Paris. After Napoleon’s defeat, the Russian Empire became one of the dominant powers of Europe, and Alexander played a leading role in the redrawing of Europe at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. This agreement among the major European powers granted Poland and Finland to the Russian Empire, as it continued to expand into the Caucasus, Turkey, and Alaska.

Alexander’s unexpected death in December 1825 led to a dynastic crisis, which provided an opportunity for a cadre of revolutionists to seize power with the goal to transform the Empire into a constitutional state. On December 26, 1825, the Decembrists, as they were called, staged a rebellion that the government easily defeated. Although the Decembrists failed, they became an inspiration to subsequent revolutionaries and gravely affected the reign of Nicholas I (r. 1825-55). As the new emperor, Nicholas I drove dissent underground with his secret police, censorship of the press, and new educational program of Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality.

This policy of Russification was not only an attempt to assimilate the newly acquired non-Russian subjects into the Russian Empire, but also sparked a debate among the Russian intelligentsia about Russia’s role and place in the world. There were two sets of thinkers who addressed these questions: the Westerners and the Slavophiles. The Westerners were atheists, interpreted Peter the Great as an agent of radical change, and desired to destroy the entire political system and replace it with a new one modeled after Europe. Opposing them were the Slavophiles, who were Orthodox Christians, sought a return to a pre-Petrine Russian past, and wanted to retain the basic political structure but reform and replace certain aspects of it. Although this debate primarily was among elites, it influenced all subsequent philosophical, social, and political thought in the Empire.

In addition to these polemical debates, the 19 th and early 20 th centuries saw a flourishing of Russian culture, especially in science, literature, and music. The Academy of Science and other institutions of higher learning developed science and scholarship in Russia, with outstanding achievements in mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, and psychology. Poets like Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), Alexander Blok (1880-1921), and Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966) reflected a new refinement and maturity in Russian culture and writers such as Nikolai Gogol (1809-52), Ivan Turgenev (1818-83), Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-81), Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), Maksim Gorky (1868-1936), and Boris Pasternak (1890-1960) left an indelible mark on both Russian and western culture. Russian composers also had a tremendous impact on western music – Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839-81), Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), Alexander Borodin (1833-87), Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-93), Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915), and Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) – as well as on Russian ballet, eventually set the standard for classical dance in the western world.

Because of its crucial role in the defeat of Napoleonic France in 1815, the Russian Empire was the dominant actor on continental Europe and rolled back political reform and revolutions. In reaction to the revolutions of 1848 that swept across Europe demanding constitutionalism, Nicholas I (r. 1825-55) suppressed uprisings in Hungary, urged Prussia not to accept a liberal constitution, and reduced Poland to a state of a Russian province. Nicholas I seemed to dominate Europe, but this illusion was shattered with Russia’s defeat in the Crimean War (1854-55). The Russian Empire had waged a series of successful wars against the Ottoman Empire in 1828 and 1829 and declared war again in 1853. Fearing that Russia could secure naval access through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, Great Britain and France joined the Ottomans in their defense and landed at Crimea to lay siege to the Russian base at Sevastopol. The fall of the Russian base the following year exposed the Russian Empire’s inability to defend a major fortification on its own soil. Although Nicholas died before the fall of Sevastopol, he, as did the rest of the Russian elite, recognized that Russia had to initiate major reforms or lose its status as a major European power.

The economic backwardness of the Russian Empire prompted Alexander II (r. 1855-81) to institute the Great Reforms in the military, judiciary, finance, education, government, and most important of all, the abolishment of serfdom in 1861. The emancipation of approximately 20 million serfs, approximately 40% of the population, was peaceful but failed to integrate them into an economy based on money and competitive markets. The emancipation of the serfs was representative of Alexander II’s Great Reforms: the state had transformed the social and economic structure of society but the Russian Empire remained an autocracy.

When Alexander II was unable to control the pace of change, he sought counter-reform until revolutionists (“anarchists”) assassinated the Emperor on March 13, 1881. Alexander II’s assassination accelerated the process of counter-reforms by his successors, Alexander III (r. 1881-94) and Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917). These counter-reforms included police surveillance, censorship, persecution of non-Russian populations, and the fostering of anti-Semitism.

Populist and revolutionary movements, as led by Nicholas Chernyshevsky, Mikhail Bakunin, and Sergey Nechayev, flourished during this period that culminated into the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions. These movements formed propagandist organizations, like People’s Will (Narodnaya Volya), and political parties such as Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, which eventually split into its Bolshevik and Menshevik factions. The revolutionaries continued to gain support from the proletariat as they, with their awful living conditions, grew and accelerated in number under Minister of Finance Sergy Witte’s program of state-led industrialization (1892-1903).

As the Russian Empire attempted to modernize its economy, it continued to expand its territory into the Caucasus and Central Asia regions and almost sparked a war with Great Britain. The Empire also expanded into China, which led to construction of the Trans-Siberian railway, and defeated the Ottoman Empire to have influence in the Balkans (1875-77). The controversy over whether Russia or Japan would occupy Manchuria led to the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), with Japan defeating the Russian Empire – the first time an Asian country defeated a European one. Confronted with unrest and revolution at home, Nicholas II accepted U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s mediation and agreed to acknowledge Japan’s supremacy in Manchuria and Korea.

The defeat by the Japanese exposed the weakness of the Russian Empire and contributed to the 1905 Revolution. The event that triggered the 1905 Revolution was the government’s violent suppression of a mass procession of workers led by priest Gregory Gapon. Known as Bloody Sunday (January 22, 1905), this event brought to the surface the social and economic discontent of the proletariat, peasantry, middle class, military, ethnic minorities, and liberal nobility: nation-wide strikes, assassination of government officials, and military mutinies quickly followed. Nicholas II agreed to the October Manifesto, a document which promised a constitutional monarchy with basic civil liberties and an elected legislature. In spite of his agreement to these conditions, Nicholas II nonetheless was able to dominate the government, because of his able prime minister, Peter Stolypin (Prime Minister, 1906-11), and because the political reformers were unable to unite, dividing themselves between the Octobrists (moderate-conservatives) and Kadets (moderate-liberals).

After the 1905 Revolution, the Russian Empire entangled itself in a series of ever-changing alliances in Europe, eventually entering the Triple Entente of Great Britain and France against Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire. The Balkan Wars in 1912 and 1913 drew the Russian Empire into these conflicts with its support of its fellow Slavs in Serbia. When a Serbian terrorist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war, in spite of Serbia’s agreement to Austria-Hungary’s demands. The system of alliances, along with poor decisions by European leaders, led to World War I (1914-18), with France supporting Russia and Germany supporting Austria-Hungary. When Germany invaded France, the conflict escalated into a world war.

The Russian offensive into East Prussia and Austria-Hungary was to divert German troops from its western front against the British and French. Although successful, the Russian military suffered disastrous defeats in 1914-15, exposing the ineptness and incompetence of the government and created social and economic hardships at home. The strain of the war created popular unrest, particularly among the proletariat, peasantry, and soldiers, resulting in nationwide strikes in 1916. The legislature, the Duma, continued to quarrel with the government bureaucracy over the conduct of the war and formed the Progressive Bloc to create a genuine constitutional government. With his insistence that the Russian Empire still was an autocracy, Nicholas II did not approve of the Progressive Bloc. Regardless of Nicholas II’s insistence, demonstrators in the capital called for an end to autocracy in March 1917. When the Cossack troops refused to fire onto the crowds and instead handed over their guns, Nicholas II abdicated on March 15, thereby ending the Russian Empire. Seven months later the Bolshevik Revolution began and soon established the Soviet Empire.

Agriculture and Nomadic Lifestyle

The Russian Empire from the early 18 th to early 20 th century was predominantly a primitive agricultural system, with a small percentage of its land cultivatable for farming. In European Russia, agricultural land was less than 1 percent in the north to more than 65 percent in the south, while in the East, less than one-tenth of West Siberia was suitable for farming, one-fifth in East Siberia, and one-hundredth in the Far East. Overall, agricultural land constituted less than one-sixth of its territory, of which three-fifths could grow crops and the remainder devoted to pasture and meadow. The main crops were grain, wheat, barley, rye, oats, clovers, and, in the southern areas, corn.

Besides the scarcity of suitable farmland, government neglect and the peasant commune accounted for the primitive state of Russian agriculture. The peasant commune could redistribute holdings according to the needs of the family and demand the rotation of the crops, thereby discouraging productivity and encouraging inefficiency. Although there was individual peasant ownership, it was small and was concentrated in Poland and the Ukraine. For example, in 1898, around 198 million acres (80 million ha) of land were peasant communes, while approximately 54 million acres (22 million ha) were under individual ownership. Secondly, the Empire’s economic policy focused on developing national and military power instead of commercializing agriculture. Farming was a source of revenue to pay for industry and the military, with the export of grain to pay for imports and taxes on peasants for the Empire’s treasury. As a result, agricultural techniques and tools remained primitive, crop yields remained low, and the state did nothing to help peasants learn modern farming methods.

Animals, Wildlife, and Domestication

The Russian Empire from the early 18 th to early 20 th century had a diverse animal population that reflected the vast size of its territories. In its northern most regions, the Arctic fox, musk, ox, beaver, lemming, and snow owl dwelled. While in the forest zones fur-bearing animals such as the sable, squirrel, marten, fox, and ermine lived, as did the elk, bear, muskrat, roe deer, and wolf. In the steppe region, the skunk, fox, wolf, antelope, eagles, kestrels, and larks resided. Because of its access to the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and large number of rivers and lakes, the fishing industry played a vital role in the economy of the Russian Empire. But of all the animals, horses were the most important, particularly for the peasants, who used them to fulfill labor obligations, like carrying goods. The number of horses a peasant owned was an indicator of his socio-economic status, with the average peasant family of four owning two horses.


Prior to the Russian Empire, which began in 1721, Byzantine architecture dominated the landscape of Kievan Rus and Muscovite Russia with its churches, monasteries, and the Kremlin. Although local variations emerged, pre-Empire Russian architecture continued along the distinctive Byzantine lines of development with a few exceptions, such as the Cathedral of St. Basil in Moscow. Russian architecture changed under the reign of Peter the Great: Western Europeans brought the Baroque, Classical, and Empire styles to the Russian Empire.

The Petrine baroque style represented a dramatic rupture from Byzantine architectural style and dominated St. Petersburg. Domenico Trezzini (1630-1734), Andreas Schlüter (1660-1714), and Mikhail Zemtsov (1688-1743) were the chief practitioners of this style that drew its inspiration after Dutch, Danish, and Swedish architecture. Some examples of this style in St. Petersburg were the Peter and Paul Cathedral, the Kunstkamera, the Menshikov Tower, and Menshikov Palace. By contrast, the Naryshkin Baroque style dominated Moscow: a fusion of Central European and Russian architectural styles as shown in such buildings as the Novodevichy Convent, Donskoy Monastery, and the Sukharev Tower.

Under Empresses Anna (r. 1730-40) and Elizabeth (r. 1741-62), the baroque and rococo style dominated the Russian Empire. Francesco Rastrelli’s (1700-71) buildings were representative of this style: the Winter Palace, Catherine Palace, and Smolny Cathedral. The Winter Palace, built between 1742 and 1762, was the winter residence for the emperors and designed in the Rococo-style in green and white with 1,786 doors and 1,945 windows. The Catherine Palace was the summer residence of the emperors and located east of St. Petersburg in the town, Tsarskoye Selo. The Palace underwent renovations in the Rococo style in 1750-1756 and was over 200 miles long (325 km). Its Great Hall is approximately 620 square miles (1,000 square km) and includes numerous distinctive rooms, including the Amber Room.

Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) dismissed Rastrelli and patronized Giacomo Quarenghi (1744-1817), Ivan Starov (1745-1808), and other such neo-classical architects. Representative buildings of this style were the Alexander Palace, which also was located in Tsarskoye Selo, and Trinity Cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra. Alexander I (r. 1801-25) supported the Empire Style, a neo-classical style but modeled after classical Greece and Rome, as shown in the Kazan Cathedral, the Admiralty, and St. Isaac’s Cathedral.

In Moscow, there was a Gothic Revival Style led by Vasily Bazhenov (1738-1799) who designed Pashkov House, and Matvei Kazakov (1738-1812) who completed Moscow State University and the Kremlin Senate. In the nineteenth century, the Neo-Byzantine style became fashionable, as evident in Konstantin Ton’s (1794-1881) buildings: the Great Kremlin Palace, the Kremlin Armoury, and Cathedral of Christ the Savoir. This style would continue in Moscow until the 1917 Revolution.

Art evolved along parallel and diverging lines in the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century. Among the lower classes and clergy, the traditional production of icons continued unabated, while, among the elites, there was a substitution of western influence for Byzantine art. During Peter the Great’s reign (r. 1694-1725), foreign painters came to Russia and young Russian artists went to Italy, France, Holland, and England to learn western painting. As a result, the art among the elite showed almost no trace of Byzantine influence with secular topics and persons as subjects. Further westernization continued under Elizabeth (r. 1741-62), who emphasized French and Italian painting. The Academy of Science established the independent Academy of Fine Arts in 1757 and invited foreign artists to direct the new school. Artists such as Dmitry Levitsky (1735-1822), Ivan Argunov (1727-1802), Anton Losenko (1737-73), and Fyodor Rokotov (1736-1809) painted secular subjects and topics, and showed the western influence in their works.

As European tastes and styles changed, so did the Russian Empire. The Romantic Movement – the emphasis on artists’ right to set their own criteria of beauty that often led to works that shocked or excited the audience – affected Russian painters, with Karl Bryullov’s (1799-1852) “The Last Days of Pompeii” (1830-33) as the best example of art from this period. Other outstanding artists of the first half of the 19 th century were Aleksey Venetsianov (1780-1847) and Pavel Fedotov (1815-52), forerunners of the Realist Movement, and Alexander Ivanov (1806-58), the first Russian painter to express religious emotion in a European manner.

The second half of the 19 th century saw the rise of Realism in Russia. Nicholas Chernyshevsky’s dissertation, “The Aesthetic Relations of Art to Reality” (1855), influenced Russian painters and sculptures, arguing that art must not only reflect reality but it must explain and evaluate it. Art soon became embroiled in the social and intellectual debate of the Westerners and Slavophiles, as represented by the pro-Westerner Peredvizhniki Society and the conservative Academy of Fine Arts. Fourteen young painters, which constituted the entire graduating class of the Academy of the Arts, refused to paint their examination assignment in 1863. They formed the Peredvizhniki Society in 1870 and created a circulating exhibition that sought to educate the masses and champion their interests. The most prominent of these realistic artists were Ivan Kramskoy (1837-87), Ilya Repin (1844-1930), Vasily Ivanovich Surikov (1848-1916), Vasily Perov (1834-82), and Vasily Vereshchagin (1842-1904).

The Russian Empire’s two major cities were Moscow and St. Petersburg, the latter was the new capital of the Empire, and was founded in 1703. Although Moscow fell economically behind its rival, St. Petersburg, it continued to retain its major role in the cultural life of Russia during the 18 th century. The War of 1812 destroyed most of Moscow. Throughout the 19 th century, Moscow was rebuilt and included such buildings as the Kremlin Great and Armory palaces, Moscow University, and the Bolshoi Theater. Industry also recovered with the Moscow stock exchange established in 1837. With the emancipation of the serfs and the development of the railroad system, Moscow’s population grew to almost two million by 1917.

Named after Peter the Great, St. Petersburg officially became the new capital of Russia in 1712, and remained so during the Empire from 1721 to 1917, although it was not until 1721 that Sweden in the Treaty of Nystad ceded sovereignty of the area to Russia. With its water outlet to the West, Peter compelled the nobility and merchants to move to St. Petersburg. Construction of government and commercial building quickly started, along with more than 370 bridges. As early as 1726, 90 percent of Russia’s foreign trade came through St. Petersburg. The rest of the 18 th century saw the rise of architectural splendor, along with a flourishing of cultural life. By the end of the 18 th century, the city’s population had reached over 220,000.

During the 19 th century, improvements in communication and trade accelerated industrial and population growth. By 1917, the population of St. Petersburg reached 2.5 million people. Metalworking and engineering were the primary industries of the city and created a proletariat of a quarter million by 1914. The concentration of factory workers made it easier for revolutionaries to spread their ideas and organize the proletariat, especially given the lack of efficiency and funds by the city government. Public services ranging from transport to water supply were inadequate at best, with common outbreaks of serious epidemics.

Given these conditions, it is not surprising that St. Petersburg was the center of revolutionary activities from the Decembrist Revolt on December 26, 1825, to the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions. The January 1905 strike included 150,000 workers and the February 1917 strikes led to the abdication of Nicholas II and the formation of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies (Petrograd had replaced the name of St. Petersburg in 1914 to Russianize the Germanic name). The subsequent Provisional Government, Civil War, and victory of the Bolsheviks centered on control of St. Petersburg, which controlled the rest of the Empire.

Class System, Luxuries, and Status

Besides geography, social class was the most important factor that defined and shaped Russian political, economic, and cultural society in the Russian Empire from the early 18 th to early 20 th century. The emperors were the apex of the Russian Empire with thousands of servants and advisors, enormous wealth and luxury, and several palaces where they could reside: the Winter Palace, Catherine Palace, Alexander Palace. The emperors owned most of the land and were above the law. Like Louis XVI, the Russian emperors’ rule was unlimited.

With Peter the Great’s opening of the Empire to the West and Catherine the Great’s Europeanization of the Russian elite, a fundamental class conflict developed and remained until the end of the Empire: a European-educated elite who spoke in French and governed a population of Russian serfs. This elite divided itself not only on the issue of serfdom but about the role of the ruler: should the ruler remain an autocrat or become a constitutional monarch? Finally, the continual expansion of the Russian Empire included hundreds of new ethnic and religious minorities into the Empire and raised the question of how to integrate them into the state.

In the 18 th century, the Russian Empire saw the rise of the nobility, the decline of the clergy, and the unchanged status of the peasants. Although a commercial and industrial class emerged, it played no relevant role during this period. Less than 1 percent of the population, the nobility dominated the Empire and underwent “Westernization” to develop a modern Russian culture. They were required to serve the state either in the military or civilian government the latter defined by Peter the Great’s Table of Ranks (1722) including the hierarchy and ranks of the imperial bureaucracy. When Alexander II (r. 1855-81) proclaimed his Great Reforms, particularly the emancipation of the serfs in 1861, the nobility started to decline but continued to dominate the Empire in positions of the court, government, bureaucracy, and military.

The Russian nobility’s lifestyle was similar to their European counterparts with wealth, privilege, and estates at home and abroad. However, among themselves, they split into the Westerners and Slavophiles, with this polemical argument about the role of Russia and its autocrat emperor spilling over into social and political mass movements. Westerners sought to establish a constitutional monarchy on the emperor, while Slavophiles defended the emperor’s autocrat role. The leading role of the nobility in the Decembrist Revolt also made them a suspect class and their roles in the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions later confirmed that suspicion.

The clergy, about 1 percent of the population, declined in importance after Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) replaced the patriarchate with the government ministry, the Holy Synod. Subsequent rulers continued a policy of secularization and state appropriation of clerical property. In the country, the clergy, whose livelihood relied upon fees and donations from impoverished parishioners, were as poor as the peasantry. Like most of subjects of the Russian Empire, the clergy lived a life that was rural, poor, and hard.

There were two types of serfs, state and private, who constituted the bulk of the Russian Empire. Peasants practiced subsistence agriculture and most of them lived in village communes. The emancipation of the serfs prompted capitalist and agricultural development, but at a much slower pace than what the state had expected. Both Westerners and Slavophiles used the peasants to justify their ideological positions but neither side actually helped the peasants improve their standards of living. In the hope of developing commercial agriculture, Nicholas II’s Prime Minster Peter Stolypin (1906-11) introduced individual proprietorship for the peasantry in a series of legislation in 1906, 1910, and 1911, which about 24 percent of the peasantry accepted and moved out of the village communes.

The proletariat grew to about 3 million in 1914 (out of an estimated population of 170 million). Like the peasantry, life was exceedingly hard and difficult for the proletariat. Faced with overcrowded housing and deplorable sanitary conditions both at home and at work, the typical proletariat worked 11 1/2-hour days, six days a week, with constant risk to injury and death from poor working conditions and inadequate wages. Although workers acquired a sense of self-respect and dignity with their new industrial skills, they also desired and expected more from life. However, the conditions in which they lived and worked prevented them from realizing it.

Finally, the expansion of the Russian Empire created a multilingual, multi-religious, and multiethnic empire, with only half of the population who spoke Russian and were of the Orthodox religion. The Empire gave Orthodox Christians preeminent status followed, in order of importance, by other Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Traditionally, the basis of legitimacy was obedience to the ruler regardless of nationality or religion but Nicholas I’s (r. 1825-55) program of Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and Nationality and Alexander II’s (r. 1855-81) Russification policies changed this condition. Non-Russians were to speak the Russian language and learn about its culture, with conversions to Russian Orthodoxy welcomed. The Empire imposed a mandatory educational curriculum of the Russian language to Poles, Ukrainians, Baltic Germans, Lutheran Finns, the Muslim Tatars, and, coupled with anti-Semitic policies, to the Jews.

Climate and Geography

The main features of the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century were its immense size, positioned across two continents, and its lack of a free outlet to the open sea except for the ice-bound shores of the Arctic Ocean. The Ural Mountains did not constitute an effective barrier between Europe and Asia, making the Russian Empire the largest unobstructed plain in the world. Rivers flowed slowly through the plain on a north-south axis and emptied into the Arctic Ocean and the Baltic, Black, and Caspian Seas. The most notable of these rivers were the Dnieper, Don, and Volga. While the Russian Empire had a plethora of rivers and lakes, its only coastline was the Arctic Ocean, making the Empire essentially landlocked.

With its northerly latitude, the Russian Empire’s climate was coldly continental. With the absence of an east-west mountain range, the Arctic Ocean’s winds swept across the Empire without interference until they reached the Black Sea. Winters were particularly brutal, with Siberia being one of the coldest regions in the world with a recorded –94°F (–70°C). The January and July mean differed by a range of 52°F at Moscow (29°C) and 115°F (64°C) at Yakutsk. Precipitation amounts were modest to low during the summer, while snow blanketed most of the Empire during winter.

Tundra, taiga, prairie, and desert characterized the soil and vegetation of the Russian Empire. Almost 10 percent of the Empire was tundra, an uninhabited frozen waste. South of this was the taiga, a zone of coniferous forest, that accounted for half of the Empire’s territory and making it one of the world’s largest timber reserve but with a podzol soil that made cultivation of the land for farming difficult. Below this was mixed forest, most of which had been cleared for agricultural use still further south was the steppe and deserts of Central Asia.

Perhaps of all the regions of the Russian Empire, Siberia has attracted the most attention for its brutal climate, place of exile, and railroad. Located east of the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean and south of the Arctic Ocean to the borders of Mongolia and China, Siberia was known for its severe and long snowless winters where the state exiled criminals and political prisoners. Siberia also had enormous mineral resources, with the mining of silver and other metals as the main economic activities of the region. To transport these minerals, the Empire completed the Trans-Siberian Railroad in 1904, which brought people as well as modern agricultural methods to Siberia.

The Russian Empire’s climate and geography greatly influenced its society, economics, and politics. The lack of first-rate farming land made agricultural innovation difficult, if not impossible, with its serf-based economy and the lack of natural barriers against foreigners made the Empire vulnerable to attacks as well as to expansion. Its landlocked position forced the Russian Empire to search for a warm-water naval port, a preoccupation that essentially dominated its political and military calculations. Finally, its location on two continents raised the question whether the Russian Empire was European, Asian, or something entirely different.

In bringing European civilization to the Russian Empire, Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) demanded western dress of the nobility, which most opposed. The shaving of beards was particularly controversial, since conservatives believed that the possession of a beard to be in the image of God. By the end of Peter’s reign in 1725, the upper class, the imperial bureaucracy, military, and even most of the middle class had adopted western attire, while the peasantry and clergy retained their traditional clothes. Typical peasant attire was a canvas shirt, long linen jacket, and shoes during the winter.

The Russian Empire’s number of colonies and protectorates continually increased over time as the Empire expanded. By the end of the 19 th century, the size of the Empire was 13.888 million square miles (35.970 million sq km) – almost one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. More than one hundred different ethnic and religious groups lived in the Russian Empire, with the majority of Russians comprising 45 percent of the population.

In the East, the Russian Empire’s furthest expansion reached across the Pacific Ocean to Alaska and even parts of California with Czar Paul’s (r. 1796-1801) Russian-American Company administering the territory from 1799 to 1867. The Russian Empire sold its colony to the United States in order to pay for defense of the Amur-Ussuri regions, which it had acquired from China in the Second Opium War (1856-60). With respect to China, Russia pursued a policy as its protectorate and obtained the territories of the Liaotung Peninsula, Sakhalin, Vladivostok, and Manchuria. The Empire’s acquisition of Manchuria led to conflict with Japan and thereby started the 1904-05 Russo-Japanese War.

If Japan was the Russian Empire’s rival in the Far East, Great Britain was its rival in Central Asia. The systematic conquest of Turkistan during the 1860s-1880s led the British to fear of Russian interference in Afghanistan, which resulted in the Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80). The continued Russian Empire’s conquest of Central Asia to the Turkmen exacerbated tensions between the two empires, but both sides averted war with an agreement in 1885 on frontier delimitations. Central Asia, therefore, retained a degree of autonomy in order to avoid conflict between these two powers until 1917.

In European Russia, the various kingdoms of the Caucasus (Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia) agreed to join the Russian Empire, with the exception of Chechens who were conquered in 1866. Depending upon the European balance of power, the Russian Empire at times acted as protectorate for Bulgaria and supported Serbia, leading to the conflict among the Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian Empires and eventually to World War I. The Russian Empire also acquired Moldavia, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. Finland was a Grand Duchy under the control of the Russian Empire, and Poland remained a Kingdom until the Third Partition (1795) when it disappeared from the map of Europe.

Communication and Transportation

The Russian Empire’s vast size created a terrible burden on its transportation system. On the one hand, the extensive number of rivers and lakes in the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century formed an excellent water transportation and communication system on the other hand, roads were poor and difficult to travel on, making land transportation and communication infrequent and unreliable. The Russian Empire turned to the railroad as the solution to this problem. With a reliable and efficient rail system, the Russian Empire acquired an easier method of transportation for raw materials, foodstuff, and armed soldiers across the Empire.

By 1890, the Russian Empire had about 19,840 miles (32,000 km) of railroad track and by the beginning of the 20 th century, it had the most rail track in the world except for the United States. The Russian Empire completed the 5,778-mile (9,198 km) Trans-Siberian railroad in 1904, which linked Moscow to Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean. Although the rail system made the transport of goods and armed soldiers more efficient, it did not address the fundamental problems that plagued the Russian Empire: a peasant-based economy, a small industrial base, and governmental incompetence.

Culture (Calendar Customs Death and Burial Customs Festivals Music)

Prior to Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725), Orthodox Christianity with its festivals, customs, and music dominated Russia, with a few exceptions of pagan and heretical beliefs practiced by outcast minorities. After Peter the Great, the Russian Empire’s culture split between the peasantry, who clung to Orthodox Christianity, and the upper classes, which adopted European attitudes, manners, and customs. While the peasantry practiced Christianity and lived in the village commune the elite adopted secularist attitudes and lived in St. Petersburg, Moscow, or abroad in Europe.

Reflecting the fragmentation of the Empire’s society, peasants played folk music, the clergy church music, and the upper classes European music. In the 19 th century, there was widespread interest of music among the elite, with Russian composer and educator Anton Rubinstein (1829-94) establishing a conservatory in St. Petersburg in 1862. The upper class’ interest in classical music supported some of the great composers and players of the Russian Empire – and, indeed, of the whole of Europe – with such names as Mikhail Glinka, Modest Mussorgsky, Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakov, Alexander Borodin, Peter Tchaikovsky, Alexander Scriabin, and Igor Stravinsky.

Since most Russians were Orthodox Christians, Russian burial practices followed the rites and practices of the Russian Orthodox Church. At the Church, the coffin usually was open with an icon or Christ or a patron Saint placed in the hands of the departed. A priest blessed the burial site. After the burying of the body, there were special religious services called parastas on the ninth, fortieth, and yearly anniversary to remember the dead.

The Russian calendar also changed under Peter the Great. Prior to his reign, years were counted according to the Bible, starting from the creation of the world, and the New Year started on September first. Peter adopted the Julian instead of the Gregorian calendar: the Russian Empire adopted a solar dating system of 365 ¼ days, which caused the calendar dates of the seasons to regress almost one day per century. Hence, the 1917 February Revolution was in March and not February. It was not until under the Soviet Union after October 1917 that Russia adopted the Gregorian calendar, which was more accurate than the Julian calendar and the rest of the West already had adopted.

Diseases and Plagues

The Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century did not experience any massive outbreaks of diseases or plagues. As a land-based empire, the population already had built up immunity against any diseases that the Russians brought with them – the one exception being smallpox in Siberia. There were occasional outbreaks of diseases and plagues like tuberculosis that were localized among the lower classes and poor.

Economy and Trade

The fundamental social and economic problem of the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century was to industrialize at parity with the European and the Japanese empires with a primitive agricultural economy, while, at the same time, avoid domestic upheaval. Between 1850 and 1900, the Russian Empire’s population doubled but remained rural with agricultural technology underdeveloped. Peasants accounted for four-fifths of the rural population and large estates of more than 31 square miles (50 sq km), which accounted for 20 percent of all farmland, were inefficient. Small-scale farming existed, but peasants used this land for gardens instead of growing foodstuff.

Industrial growth was significant, uneven, and government-directed. Textile industries, metal processing, and chemical plants were located in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and parts of Poland coal, iron, and ore production were in the Ukraine iron, metals, and minerals came from the Ural area and oil from Baku. By 1890, the Russian Empire had an annual coal production of 6.6 million tons, and iron and steel production of 2 million tons per year. The state budget had doubled, but debt expenditures had quadrupled, accounting for 28 percent of official expenditures. Consequently, the Russian Empire had difficulty financing trade with Europe because its surpluses did not cover its debt expenditures.

To address this problem, Sergy Witte (1849-1915), the Minister of Finance from 1892 to 1903, adopted an ambitious economic program: foreign loans, conversion to the gold standard, heavy taxation of the lower classes, and accelerated development of heavy industries. His policies had mixed results. On the one hand, Witte’s policies tripled coal, iron, steel, and oil production from 1890-1900 and the state budget again doubled. On the other hand, certain expenditures, like the Trans-Siberian railroad, were economic losses and increased state debt. Furthermore, the economic depression of 1900, which lasted until the 1905 Revolution, also slowed down economic progress and led to Witte’s dismissal in 1903.

Once order was restored after the 1905 Revolution, the Russian Empire continued to industrialize, although not as rapidly as in the 1890s, and it remained behind its European counterparts. A commercial class developed as they benefited from high protective tariffs, and a private capitalism began to take place. This form of capitalism differed from British or American capitalism in that the Russian middle class accepted the principle of autocracy and the Empire’s political and military goals instead of consumer ones. Nonetheless, the beginning and progressive growth of private industry, trade, and finance began to take place at the end of the Russian Empire.

By importing the European educational system into the Russian Empire, Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) radically changed the structure and purpose of education. Prior to Peter, the Russian Orthodox Church controlled education, which taught literacy to a few, with lessons that were religious and moral in nature. Peter the Great saw education as a way to help the state achieve its military goals and established the School of Mathematics and Navigation (1701), the Naval Academy (1715), and the Academy of Sciences (1725). Medical students established schools in Moscow (1706) and St. Petersburg (1709) and the state created its first university, Moscow University, in 1755. For the upper class, home education by foreign tutors developed with an emphasis on foreign languages, fencing, dancing, and European manners. Church schools continued to exist, but they served only church needs, leaving the education of the upper classes to these new institutions.

The Russian Empire created the Ministry of Education in 1802 and divided the Empire into six educational regions, each headed by a curator. The government wanted a university in every region, a secondary school in every provincial center, and a primary school in every district. By the mid-19 th century, 6 universities, 48 secondary state schools, and 337 primary schools existed. Universities enjoyed relative autonomy, and private initiative created institutions of higher learning. These institutions contributed to the creation of a critical mass of those secularly educated and thereby posed a potential threat to Russian autocrat rule. Government censorship suppressed directed political criticism of the regime.

Under Nicholas I (r. 1825-55), the government imposed the doctrine of Official Nationality on the educational system and did not tolerate dissent. Although the government increased state spending for buildings and teachers’ salaries, the Empire sought to control the content of education, even forcing private tutors to become state employees. In spite of its Russian nationalism, the Empire’s educational system was one of high quality in standards and thoroughness. The upper class tended to send their children to bordering schools the middle class children to state schools and the peasants and lower class to church schools.

The zemstva – limited local self-government – educational reforms of Alexander II (r. 1855-81) had mixed results: the government established new schools in the countryside, but the content was controlled and the number of these schools slowed during the period of counter-reforms. The government also rigidly categorized schools so students could not cross into another educational system. In other words, the state tried to make the education system solidify social and class structure. Nonetheless, education continued to grow in the Empire: by 1880, there were 22,770 primary schools with 1.1 million students, of which 68.5 percent the zemstva reforms had established and by 1915, there were over 8 million students in the Empire. In spite of these impressive achievements, subjects of the Empire still required all sorts of training, with literacy being the most basic one. In 1917, on the eve of the Bolshevik Revolution, nearly half of the population was illiterate.

The upper class of the Russian Empire family life from the early 18 th to early 20 th century was similar to its European counterpart: the father worked in the government, commerce, or on his estate the mother was involved in social activities children studied at border schools and a host of servants, tutors, and peasants supported the household. For the peasantry, all members of the household worked for their noble master. Prior to 1861, peasants had no rights, with their owners transferring them without regard to the peasant’s own family or village ties. After emancipation in 1861, landlords could not sell peasants, but the basic structure of their family life remained the same. Finally, in both families, it was common for grandparents, parents, and grandchildren to live in the same household or village, marriage to occur as early as twelve years of age, and husbands to beat their wives.

Food and Diet

The primary difference in the diet between the upper and lower classes in the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century was the amount, with some variations in the type of food consumed. The typical Russian diet was a variety of soups dishes made from fish cereals-based food meat vegetables fruit berries honey and mushroom. The typical drinks were beer, imported wine, tea, and spirits. The nobility imported cheese, wine, spirits, sugar to replace honey, and tea, which was used to create a new meal: the afternoon tea. By contrast, the peasants usually ate black-rye bread, white eggs, fish, bacon, mushrooms, cucumbers, onions, garlic, nuts, and honey. They also ate potatoes, which Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) imported into the Russian Empire.

The Russian Empire was the culmination of the Romanov dynasty that ruled Russia since Michael Romanov (r.1613-45) was crowned czar in 1613. The first czar in Russian history was Ivan the Terrible (Ivan IV) (r. 1553-84) of the Rurik dynasty. The term czar itself referred to the supreme ruler, particularly the Byzantine Emperor, who ruled the Orthodox Christian world. After the fall of the Byznatine Empire in 1453, Russian rulers claimed leadership of the Orthodox Christian world by calling themselves czars until Peter the Great discarded the title czar for emperor in 1721. Emperor was the official title of rulers of the Russian Empire, although they were sometimes popularly known as czars.

The Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century was an autocracy led by an all-powerful emperor until the 1905 Revolution, when it became a semi-constitutional monarchy. The 1917 Revolution abolished the monarchy entirely, when Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917) abdicated the throne on March 15, 1917, ending the empire. The Romanovs, who ruled the Empire, generally passed the throne to the tsar’s eldest son or, if he had no son, to his closest male relative until 1722, when Peter the Great gave the monarch the right to choose his successor. Throughout its history, the Russian Empire pursued contradictory goals: the social and economic modernization of its society as modeled after Europe and the retention of the autocrat political principle. The government’s inability to reconcile these two objectives resulted in the Empire’s demise.

Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) reformed the government by establishing colleges (ministries) to govern certain areas with a Senate to coordinate overall government policy. Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) continued to follow these rational principles of organization by dividing the Empire into provinces and districts with an administrative, police, and judicial apparatus for each province. Alexander I (r. 1801-25) replaced Peter’s colleges with ministries but without a coordinating body. His chief advisor, Michael Speransky (1772-1839), proposed extensive constitutional reform, but Alexander I dismissed him in 1812.

The Russian Empire’s government remained unchanged until Alexander II’s (r. 1855-81) Great Reforms. The Empire reorganized local governments into provincial and district zemstva, bodies which represented all the local classes and which were responsible for local education, health, safety, and food. The central government also established elected city councils (dumas) and a western-style judiciary system modeled after French and German law. However, Alexander II and his successors began to curb back these reforms once they failed to produce the economic results they had hoped and began to pose a political threat to the Empire.

The 1905 Revolution changed the Russian Empire from an autocracy to a constitutional monarchy, although in practice it remained an autocracy because the elected legislature (Duma) was polarized among conservatives (Octobrists) and liberals (Kadets). Furthermore, Nicholas II in 1906 appointed Peter Stolypin, a conservative, as prime minister who effectively worked with conservatives to isolate the liberals in the Duma. In 1907, Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917) promulgated a new electoral law, which increased the weight of the nobility, thereby favoring conservatives in the Duma elections. After Stolypin’s assassination in 1911, Nicholas II appointed Vladimir Kokovtsov to replace him. However, Kokovtsov was unable to control the government, as Nicholas II’s court, dominated by the Russian mystic Grigory Rasputin (1872-1916), issued decrees that were contrary to Kokovtsov’s. It took the events of World War I to galvanize all sectors of society against the czar and force Nicholas II to abdicate his throne.

Labor and Slavery

The bulk of the population of the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century was serfs. Unlike European feudalism, serfs were entirely economically dependent upon the nobility and essentially slaves. The defeat of the Russian Empire in the Crimean War (1854-55) exposed the fundamental economic weakness of a peasant-based economy to support the Empire’s military. The desire to move to a competitive market and moneyed-based economy, as well as the fear of peasant uprisings and moral sentiments, led Alexander II (r. 1855-81) to proclaim the end of serfdom in 1861.

Although free, the serfs had to make redemption payments to the government over a period of fifty years, with the government compensating the noble gentry with bonds. Although some peasants improved their positions, the vast majority of them fell behind in their payments because the land was poor and their agricultural methods remained backwards. The government made one more attempt to reform the peasantry before the 1917 Revolution when Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin pushed through legislation in 1906, 1910, and 1911 that attempted to transform the peasant commune into individual proprietors. However, by 1917, only 24 percent of the formerly communal households had completed their legal withdrawal from the commune.

Although the working class was significantly smaller than the peasantry, their lives were equally difficult with long hours, low wages, and unsafe conditions both at home and at work. The working class also played a crucial role in the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions. The proletariat was about 3 million by 1914, approximately less than 1 percent of the entire population, but lived in concentrated areas that made the spread of revolutionary ideas very easy.

Language, Literature, and Writing

The Russian Empire used the Cyrillic alphabet that was based on the Greek script of the 9 th century. Peter the Great (r.1694-1725) modified this alphabet, when he simplified certain letters and introduced Latin ones. In 1710, this modified alphabet became mandatory for all publications except for religious ones.

Peter also established printing presses and newspapers during his reign, with other forms of publications – journals, plays, short stories, novels, and histories – following and flourishing for the next 200 years of the empire’s existence. As literacy grew among the upper and middle classes, a literate culture emerged that centered on the intellectual, philosophical, and religious debates of the period. However, the state supervised and censored this literate culture by suppressing anti-government publications.

Of the writers of the early 18 th -century Classical School, Russian poet and grammarian Michael Lomonosov (1711-65) was the best known for his poetry and his defense of the Russian language as equal to its European counterparts. Other notable classical writers were Denis Fonvizin, Nicholas Novikov, and Fyodor Emin whose novels, plays, and fables reflected the power and majesty of the Empire at that time. At the end of the 18 th century, there was a transition from Classicalism to Sentimentalism: the emphasis from reason, harmony, and balance to feelings, beauty, and nature. The poets Gavrila Derzhavin and Nicholas Karamzin are the best representatives of this school of Sentimentalism.

The greatest Russian poet of the Russian Empire was Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) whose technical mastery and versatility of themes were evident in such works like Yevgeny Onegin (1823-31) and The Bronze Horseman (1833). Michael Lermontov, the other major poet of the early 19 th century, became better known for his novel, A Hero of Our Times (1840) that reflected the influence of Romanticism in Russian literature. Realism replaced Romanticism – the depiction of life as it were and not life as imagined – with the works of Nicholas Gogol, whose devastating satire of Russian society had an extraordinary impact on the Russian upper class: The Government Inspector (1836), Dead Souls (1842), and The Overcoat (1842).

Fyodor Dostoevsky continued in Realism with his great novels, Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868-69), The Devils (1871-72), and The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80). He took the Slavophile position, and supported the conservative, religious, and nationalist features of Russian society. On the other side was Ivan Turgenev who supported the Westerners, as written in his novels, A Sportman’s Sketches (1852) and Fathers and Sons (1862). Standing aloft of these ideological debates were Leo Tolstoy who wrote his two great novels, War and Peace (1865-69) and Anna Karenina (1875-77), Ivan Goncharov who wrote Oblomov (1859), and Anton Chekhov, whose short stories and particularly his plays – The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1897), Three Sisters (1901), and The Cherry Orchard (1903-04) – made Russian literature internationally known. The novels of these authors, especially Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, rank among the greatest ever written, and Russian literature of this period is perhaps the empire’s most enduing legacy.

At the beginning of the 20 th century, Russian poetry returned to a place of prominence, although novelists such as Maxim Gorky and Boris Pasternak also made important contributions to Russian literature. Alexander Blok was the best representative of the Symbolist School – the world was a system of symbols expressing metaphysical realities – while Anna Akhmatova’s lyricism and clarity acted as a counterpoint in a movement known as Acemism. But the most revolutionary poetic movement of the period was Futurism, which Velimir Khlebnikov founded in 1910: the language of the common man or of the streets should replace the artificial and complex forms of previous poetry.

Laws, Ethics, and Human Rights

The Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century was an autocracy: the Empire’s subjects absolutely obeyed their ruler. The ideas of human rights or ethical treatment did not exist in the Russian Empire, and the persecution of minorities, especially Jews, occurred without official objection—and sometimes with encouragement. For example, the Russian Empire officially adopted an anti-Semitic policy from 1881 to 1917 and tolerated pogroms – a mob attack against Jews condoned by the state – such as the 1903 pogrom in Moldavia where in two days 45 Jews were killed, nearly 600 wounded, and 1,500 Jewish homes had been pillaged. Those responsible for inciting the outrages were not punished.

The two rulers who had the most influence on Russian law was Peter the Great and Catherine the Great. Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) crowned himself Emperor in 1721 modeled after European autocrats: the Emperor was the head of the state and not the patrimonial owner of the land and father of his subjects, as he had been under Muscovite czars. Peter also introduced the primogeniture, increased taxes on the peasantry, and implemented his Table of Ranks (1722), which established a caste-like system for members of society in their position, status, and obligations to the state. For her part, Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) created a commission in 1767 that drew from most classes to codify the Empire’s laws modeled after European legal thought and practices. Although the Empire did not implement its recommendations, the Commission’s influence stimulated the modernization of the Russian Empire’s legal system.

Russian politician and advisor Michael Speransky spearheaded another attempt at constitutional and legal reform, but Alexander I (r. 1801-25) dismissed him in 1812. Another political advisor to the Emperor, Nicholas Novosiltsev, also proposed constitutional reform in 1819, but Alexander I also dismissed his ideas. The Empire’s defeat in the Crimean War in 1855 led Alexander II (r. 1855-81) to implement his Great Reforms in the emancipation of serfs and the reorganization of government, education, and the military, with the judiciary system modeled after French and German law. Still, the Ministry of Interior had the power to banish anyone whom it considered politically subversive, regardless of what the courts ruled. At the local level, the central government created legislative bodies (dumas) responsible for education, health, safety, and food, although later the central government restricted the powers of these dumas, who eventually served mostly a consultative role in the functioning of government.

The 1905 Revolution changed the Empire’s fundamental laws to include a national Duma and basic civil liberties for most citizens. The Russian Empire still was an autocracy, but the word “unlimited” was removed, and no law could be implemented without the consent of the Duma. However, the Emperor retained the power to appoint his government and dismiss the Duma at any time and to pass emergency decrees when they were not in session. In practice, the divided nature of the Duma allowed Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917) to govern as he wished until the Revolution of 1917 forced his abdication and brought the empire to an end.

Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96) issued the Province Reform in 1775, which placed the health of non-serfs into the hands of the Health Commission. This imperial bureaucracy directed health and medicine in the hospitals, mental institutions, and schools. Hospitals often lacked proper sanitation, were short of equipment, and provided low wages to physicians. If they could, people avoided hospitalization and enlisted the care of private physicians. In the countryside, it was worse, with the rural population receiving little medical support except for those who lived there and may have known a little about medicine.

Shortly before the onset of the Russian Empire in 1721, medical students established schools in Moscow (1706) and St. Petersburg (1709) modeled after the schools in Europe, but graduates sometimes were unemployed because older physicians refused to retire. The assignment of physicians to parts of the Empire often was a waste of resources, with too many physicians in one province and not enough in another. With Alexander II’s (r. 1855-81) Great Reforms, physicians started to work in the countryside for the local government (zemstva) where the pay and conditions were slightly better. Still, by the end of 1914, only 30 percent of physicians practiced in rural areas, while 80 percent of the population lived there.

Because of the rigid nature of its social structure, the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century did not experience massive migrations within its borders rather, Russians migrated outwards as the Empire continued to expand, especially into non-Russian and non-Slavic territories. The some exceptions like the 18 th -century massive influx of Germans into the Volga region and, after 1861, the movement of newly liberated serfs to urban areas in the search for work. This migration caused the number of the proletariat to increase exponentially and become fertile ground for revolutionary ideas and organization. There also was a migration of 40,000 Russian Jews to Palestine in the late nineteenth century, with the first Jewish settlements from Russia in 1882.

Religion, Philosophy, and Intellectual Movements

The Russian Empire embraced European Enlightenment philosophy and ideas but directed it towards its own topical concerns about the history, nature, and role of Russia in the world. Specifically, the ideas and works of the French philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778) and the German philosophers Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854), Georg Hegel (1770-1831), Karl Marx (1818-83), and French socialism influenced Russian upper class. The first great debate to emerge from this Europeanized culture was in the 19 th century between the Westerners and Slavophiles, which was sparked by Peter Chaadayev’s “Philosophical Letters” (1836). The Westerners included Alexander Herzen, Vissarion Belinsky, Michael Bakunin, while the Slavophiles were Aleksey S. Khomyakov, Ivan and Pyotr Kireyevsky, Konstantin and Ivan Aksakov, and Yury Samarin.

If the Westerners were the “fathers” in the 1840s and 1850s, the Nihilists were their “sons” in the 1860s. Influenced by utilitarianism rather than Germanic romanticism, the Nihilists were materialists and called for revolutionary change in the Empire, as demanded in Nicholas Chernyshevsky’s work What Is To Be Done? (1863). The Populists replaced the Nihilists in the 1870s and 1880s and sought to educate the people in order to prepare them for social revolution. This ideological movement eventually split into the “Lavorists,” who sought gradual reform, and the “Bakuninists,” who advocated immediate revolution. Several revolutionary terrorist organizations also appeared at this time – Land and Liberty (Zemlya I volya), Black Repartition (Chyorny peredel), People’s Will (Narodnaya volya) – and future Marxists were associated with these societies, like George Plekhanov, P. B. Axelrod, and Vladimir Lenin.

From the 1890s until the 1917 Revolution, peasants and workers established political parties, which in turn prompted middle-class conservatives and liberals to form their own. Religious and ethnic minorities also formed political parties, with most of them revolutionary in nature. The most important political party was the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, which at its Second Party Congress in 1903 split between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks, the latter led by Vladimir Lenin. In his What Is To Be Done? (1902), Lenin developed the concept of a tightly organized and highly disciplined revolutionary party that could form a worker-peasant alliance to overthrow an autocrat government. Lenin realized his idea of the “vanguard party” in the 1917 October Revolution when the communists seized power.

The revolutionaries’ opponents were conservative intellectuals like Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nicholas Strakhov, Constantine Leontyev, and Vasily Rozanov. Like their Slavophile predecessors, they believed in the superiority of pan-Slavic civilization over western institutions and ideas, with Russians returning to their “native soil” (pochvenniki) in order to renew their civilization. These thinkers saw the Russian Orthodox Church as the spiritual foundation of Russian society and understood the human personality as an organic whole instead of rational and scientific. Influenced by the Slavophiles, these conservatives in turn influenced religious philosophers like Nicholas Fyodorov, Vladimir Solovyov, Serge and Eugene Trubetskoy, Nicholas Lossky, Nicholas Berdyaev, Simon Frank, and I. I. Lapshin.

Although an inspiration to the conservatives, the Russian Orthodox Church was under state control, with the patriarchate abolished and replaced by the Holy Synod since the time of Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725). The Empire’s chief procurator governed the Church for the state’s end, such as in Nicholas I’s (r. 1825-55) Official Nationality policy. The Church was unable to reform itself under Alexander II (r. 1855-81), because the state depleted the Church’s resources, in addition to the bitter division between the “white clergy” (married clergymen who could be priests) and the “black clergy” (celibate clergymen who were assigned to monasteries). Because of its impoverished conditions, a radical movement of protest against the state known as clerical liberalism emerged at the beginning of the 20 th century and contributed to the 1905 Revolution. The constitutional monarchy addressed some of the Church’s concerns after the 1905 Revolution, including allowing the Church to elect a patriarch. On the eve of the 1917 Revolution, the Russian Orthodox Church elected a patriarch – the first since the period of Peter the Great.

The Russian Orthodox Church was the predominant religion of the Russian Empire, although minority communities of Muslims, Jews, and other Christian sects existed. Catholics resided in Poland, Lutherans mostly were in Finland and the Baltic Republics, and Muslims lived in Central Asia. The Russian Empire forced Jews to live in the western part of the Russian Empire, where they continually suffered from pogroms, such as in the Ukraine after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 and in Moldavia in 1903.

Resistance and Dissent

The Russian Empire’s fear of resistance and dissent, especially among the peasantry and national minorities, mainly contributed to the conservative and repressive nature of its regime. Because the Empire was a closed society in forbidding freedom of the press and possessing an extensive domestic spy and informer network, violent rebellion was the only way for resistance and dissent to surface. Although censorship was common in the Empire, liberal ideas occasionally were published in newspaper and journals if the censors either missed it or were liberal themselves.

One of the persistence problems that plagued the Russian Empire was the resistance of the Old Believers and the rebellions of the Poles. The Old Believers was a seventeenth-century heretical sect of the Russian Orthodox Church, most of whom the state banished to Siberia, and continued to practice their heretical beliefs. This not only posed a threat to the Russian Orthodox Church but also to the Russian Empire’s ideology of Autocracy, Orthodoxy, and Nationality. The need for a uniform belief in Orthodoxy was crucial for support of Russian nationalism and national identity.

The disappearance of Poland in the Third Partition (1795) placed Catholic Poles under the Russian Empire. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Poles had rebelled against the Russian Empire in the hope of securing independence. Although they were unsuccessful, the Poles, like the Old Believers, were a persistence problem for the Russian Empire to confront until World War I (1914-18).

Although the number of serf rebellions increased until their emancipation, they were localized and therefore did not threaten the central government. An exception was the Pugachev uprising (1768-74), when Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachov claimed to be Emperor Peter III (who was deposed and assassinated by his wife, Catherine II). Pugachov declared an end to serfdom and gained the support of the Cossacks, peasants, and industrial workers in the steppes east of the Volga River. Pugachov managed to capture Kazan, Saratov, and besieged Tsaritsyn before General A. V. Suvorov defeated Pugachov in 1774.

Another failed coup was the Decembrist Revolt in 1825. When Alexander I (r. 1801-25) unexpectedly died, it led to a dynastic crisis, which provided an opportunity for a cadre of revolutionists to seize power with the goal to transform the Empire into a constitutional state. On December 26, 1825, the Decembrist staged a rebellion that the government easily defeated. In spite of their defeat, the Decembrist became an inspiration for all subsequent revolutionists – such as Nicholas Chernyshevsky, Mikhail Bakunin, Sergey Nechayev, Vladimir Lenin – to overthrow the Russian Empire.

The revolutionists’ assassination of Alexander II (r. 1855-81) did not lead to an overthrow of the regime, but they revealed themselves as a serious threat to the government’s authority. These revolutionary movements formed propagandist organizations, like People’s Will (Narodnaya Volya), and political parties such as Russian Social Democratic Labor Party, which eventually split into its Bolshevik and Menshevik factions. They played a significant role in the 1905 and 1917 Revolutions.

The Japanese victory over the Russian Empire in the 1904-05 War exposed the weakness of the Russian Empire. When the government violently suppressed a mass procession of workers led by priest Gregory Gapon on January 22, 1905, later known as Bloody Sunday, mass discontent with the regime rose to the surface. Nation-wide strikes, assassination of government officials, and military mutinies quickly followed. To put an end to the revolution, Nicholas II (r.1894-1917) agreed to a constitutional monarchy with basic civil liberties and an elected legislature.

However, Nicholas II’s concession provided only a temporary peace. When the Russian military suffered disastrous defeats in World War I, thereby exposing the ineptness and incompetence of the government, the people no longer want to bear the hardships of war. Nationwide strikes, calls for the end of autocracy, and local revolutionary councils (soviets) were established in Moscow and St. Petersburg. When the Cossack troops refused to fire onto the crowds and instead handed over their guns, Nicholas II abdicated on March 15, ending the Russian Empire.

Science and Technology

Peter the Great founded the Academy of Sciences in 1724 in St. Petersburg. Those invited to work there initially included famous mathematicians and scientists: Leonhard Euler (1707-83), Christian Goldbach (1690-1764), Nicholas Bernuoulli (1695-

1726), Johann Georg Gmelin (1709-55), and Gerhard Friedrich Müller (1705-83). Leonhard Euler was the preeminent mathematician of the 18 th century and one of the greatest of all time with his discoveries in calculus, topology, mechanics, optics, and astronomy. Christian Goldbach and Nicholas Bernoulli also were famous mathematicians who also made important breakthroughs in curves, differential equations, and probability.

Johann Georg Gmelin and Gerhard Friedrich Müller were explorers: both made trips to Siberia in order to study the climate, culture, and vegetation. While Gmelin focused on Siberia’s vegetation, which led to his major work, Flora Sibirica, Müller studied the people and culture of the region, making him the father of the discipline of ethnography. Müller probably was most famous for his “Normanist theory”: the important role of Scandinavians and Germans in the shaping of Russian history. This theory still is a matter of controversy among scholars today. The exploration of Siberia and the North Pacific was known in the eighteenth century as the Great Northern Expedition. Besides Gmelin and Müller, Vitus Bering (1681-74) and Peter Simon Pallas (1741-1811) also made significant studies of Siberia and the Bering Strait.

Michael Lomonosov (1711-65), who also was a poet, published the first textbook on chemistry in 1752 and made several discoveries in physics, optics, and astronomy. He regarded heat as a form of motion and suggested ideas of wave theory of light, the kinetic theory of gases, and the conservation of matter. Lomonosov also was the first person to record the freezing of mercy and hypothesize nature was subject to regular and continuous evolution.

During the 19 th century, Russian achievements in the sciences and mathematics gained international recognition. Nicholas Lobachevsky (1792-1856) invented non-Euclidean geometry that eventually by European mathematicians and revolutionized the field. Pafnuty Chebyshev (1821-94) and Sophia Kovalevskaia (1850-91) also made significant contributions to probability, differential equations, and number theory.

Besides achievements in mathematics, Russian scientists did exceptional well in astronomy, with the Pulkov observatory constructed in 1839. Directed by Frederick William Jacob Struve (1793-1864), the Pulkov observatory had the largest telescope in the world and the most advanced equipment at that time. Pulkov became the great center of astronomy in the world, allowing training for European and American astronomers.

Notable chemists and physics was Nicholas Zinin (1812-90), who pioneer the production of aniline dyes. Dmitry Mendeleev (1834-1907) categorized the elements into the periodic table and made accurate forecasts of later discoveries. Alexander Stoletov (1839-96) made discoveries in magnetism and electricity and Peter Lebedev (1866-1912) studied the properties of light and magnetism, showing the minute pressures light exerts on bodies. Of technical inventions, perhaps Paul Yablochkov (1847-94) and Alexander Popov (1859-1906) were the most famous. Yablochkov developed the electric light before Edison and Alexander Popov (1859-1906) invented the radio before Marconi.

In spite of these achievements, Russian scientists frequently received less recognition when compared to their western counterparts because of general ignorance of the Russian language as well as the general backwardness of the Russian Empire. European, and to a lesser extent, Americans were leaders in science and technical advances during the 18 th and 19 th centuries. Although it made steady progress in science and technology, the Russian Empire always was a step behind its European and American counterparts.

Sports and Recreation

Common pastimes for all classes of the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century were skating, sledging, sliding, and, among the male members of society, chess. Open-air fairs in St. Petersburg and Moscow as well as religious festivals, imperial birthdays, and celebrations of military and naval victories also were popular. The Russian upper class enjoyed a variety of cultural amusements – concerts, opera, ballet, theater, and literature – as well as travel to Europe, where they might have a second home. Social gatherings such as parties and balls were frequent, too. Horseback riding, fencing, and dueling, although perhaps not a sport, were other activities for the nobility. For the peasantry, dancing, singing, and games that involved predictions of marriage were widespread and recurrent.

Taxes, Taxation, and Tariffs

Starting with Peter the Great’s Table of Ranks (1722), the Russian Empire organized the structure of its society on a member’s ability to pay taxes. The Empire employed a poll tax on all males except the clergy and nobility, the latter who had to serve either in the imperial bureaucracy or in the military. The state also imposed a myriad of indirect taxes on alcohol, salt, bread, and other such items. Finally, local governments taxed its subjects in order to pay for education and the police. The Russian Empire especially taxed heavily the peasants and the proletariat.

The Russian Empire tried to encourage the development of domestic industries with high tariffs against foreign goods in 1724 and abolished internal tariffs in 1753. Moscow was the most important center of internal commerce, while St. Petersburg was the most important center for foreign trade. The Russian Empire exported raw materials, especially grain, and imported manufactured and luxury goods. Russian manufactures generally were unable to compete with Europeans for markets consequently, they exported their goods to the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, and China.

War, Weapons, Military, and Diplomacy

The preoccupation of war and the military was constant in the Russian Empire of the early 18 th to early 20 th century in order to defend itself against foreign invasion and expand its borders. Peter the Great (r. 1694-1725) established the Russian Empire after he had defeated Swedish and Polish Empires the Great Northern War (1700-21). Besides founding St. Petersburg, the new capital of the Russian Empire, with a direct link to Europe, Peter established Russia’s naval forces, reorganized the military according to European standards, and instituted a lifetime draft for soldiers, with nobility either serving in the military as officers or in the civil service as imperial bureaucrats.

The Russian Empire continued to expand in the War of Polish Succession (1733-35), the War with the Ottoman Empire (1734-39), and the Seven Years’ War (1756-63). Under Catherine the Great (r. 1762-96), the Russian Empire continued its southern expansion to the Black Sea and the Crimea with its victory over Turkey in the Russo-Turkish Wars (1768-74, 1787-91) and to the west in the Polish Partitions (1772-95), which Russia acquired significant portions of Belarus, Ukraine, and Poland.

As a significant European power, the Russian Empire became entangled in the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon defeated the Russian Empire at Austerlitz in 1805 and Friedland in 1807. However, under the leadership of General Michael Kutuzov (1745-1813), the Russian Empire defeated Napoleon in the War of 1812 and became the most powerful military force in the world.

However, this reputation of the Russian Empire was shattered with its defeat in the Crimean War (1854-55). The Russian Empire had defeated the Ottoman Empire in 1828 and 1829 and declared war again in 1853. However, British and French fears that Russia could secure naval access through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits led them to support the Ottoman Empire and defeated Russia by seizing the Russian base at Sevastopol.

The next major war for the Russian Empire also was a defeat. Japan emerged victorious over the Russian Empire in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). The war was over whether Russia or Japan would occupy Manchuria. Facing domestic unrest and revolution, Nicholas II (r. 1894-1917) accepted U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s meditation and acknowledged Japan’s supremacy in Manchuria and Korea.

The Russian Empire’s final defeat was in World War I (1914-18). The Russian Empire continual support of its fellow Slavs in Serbia drew the Empire into a series of conflicts with the Ottoman Empire in 1875-77 and Austrian-Hungarian Empire in 1912 and 1913. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, started a series of decisions that led to the World War I, with Russia, Great Britain, and France on one side and Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire on the other.

The Russian offensive into East Prussia and Austria-Hungary was successful in diverting German troops from the western front, but the Russian military suffered disastrous defeats in 1914-15. Political infighting and the inability of military officers to adapt to modern modes of warfare was the primary cause for the Russian Empire’s losses. The strain of the war on the people sparked nationwide strikes in 1916, which culminated in the 1917 February Revolution, when Nicholas II abdicated his throne. Soon after the Bolshevik Revolution began and established the Soviet Empire.

Water Supply

The Russian Empire had five main drainage basins: the Arctic, Pacific, Baltic, Black Sea, and Caspian. The most extensive of these was the Arctic basin, which was north of Siberia and was drained by three rivers: the Ob (2,268 miles 3,649 km), the Irtysh (3,360 miles 5,406 km), and the Lena (2,734 miles 4,399 km). Other notable rivers of the Siberian region were the Northern Dvina, Pechora, Indigirka, and the Kolyma. The rest of Siberia drained into the Pacific Ocean, with the southeastern part drained by the Amur tributary that formed the border between Russia and China.

European Russia had three drainage basins: the Dnieper and Don rivers and the northwest drain of the Baltic Sea. The largest river of this region was the Volga (2,193 miles 3,528 km), which went from northwest of Moscow to the Caspian Sea. Besides the Caspian Sea, the Ladoga, Onega, Peipus, and Baikal Lakes were the largest bodies of water in the Empire.

The Russian Empire’s great irrigation project was the founding of its new capital, St. Petersburg, at the mouth of the Neva River in 1703. The marshy, flood-prone land and inhospitable climate created an engineering challenge to the government, which it answered: the state had built more than 370 bridges and river channels, and, by the mid-18 th century, St. Petersburg became the primary outlet of trade with Europe. However, as the city continued to grow, the sanitary conditions, particularly the drinking water, became inadequate and often unsuitable for human consumption.

Further Readings

Ewans, Martin, ed. The Great Game: Britain and Russia in Central Asia. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Greenleaf, Monika, and Stephen Moeller-Sally, eds. Russian Subjects: empire, nation, and culture of the Golden Age. Evanson, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1998.

Hartley, Janet M. A Social History of the Russian Empire, 1650-1825. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1998.

LeDonne, John P. The Grand Strategy of the Russian Empire, 1650-1831. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Lieven, Dominic C. Empire: The Russian Empire and its Rivals. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001.

Lohr, Eric, and Marshall Poe, eds. The Military and Society in Russia: 1450-1917. Boston: Brill, 2002.

Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Old Regime. New York: Charles Scribner, 1974.

Seton-Watson, Hugh. The Russian Empire, 1801-1917. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Lee Trepanier

Lee Trepanier is a Professor of Political Science at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He is author and editor of several books and also is the editor of VoegelinView (2016-present) and editor of Lexington Books series Politics, Literature, and Film (2013-present).


Control of alcohol consumption is a multifaceted issue, complicated by the legal status of alcohol and the danger of its excessive consumption. Most governments have a variety of policies directed at controlling consumer behaviour, administering taxation of alcoholic beverages, and monitoring their quality.

Globally, alcohol control policies have undergone a number of substantial changes since the beginning of the 20th century, ranging from complete prohibition in the early 1900s (i.e. USA, Sweden), to an absolute lack of control following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 (i.e. Russia and other former Soviet States) (Moore and Gerstein, 1981 Partanen, 1993 ). The latter group of countries, specifically Russia, is the focus of this paper.

Through the centuries, Russia relied on alcohol revenue, with mortality related to alcohol consumption being underestimated or concealed by the government. However, analyses of the underlying causes of the demographic changes in Russia since the early 1990s, in particular, escalating alcohol-related mortality among middle-aged males, suggest that Russia is suffering from an extreme impact of alcohol consumption (Chenet et al. , 1998 Bobak and Marmot, 1999 ).

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, mortality in Russia increased considerably, in comparison to its sister states, with an overall annual population decrease of about 800 000 people (Nelson, 1996 Notzon et al. , 2003 ). Many of these losses were due to the severe demographic split following ‘shock therapy’ economic reforms that left a majority of the population below poverty level, while the disintegrated public health system was unable to deal with their extensive social, health, and economic needs.

Increasing alcohol consumption was one of the many outcomes of this collapse, with an estimated adult per capita consumption in Russia ranging from 14 to 18 litre of pure alcohol annually, which is roughly 38 litres of 100 proof vodka, or about a 750 ml bottle of vodka every other day (Simpura et al. , 1997 Treml, 1997 MacKellar et al. , 2003 Nemtsov, 2003 ).

The increasing alcohol consumption has been viewed as largely responsible for the most significant drop in life expectancy in the history of Russia, with approximately 40 000 deaths annually from alcohol-related poisonings alone, compared to about 400 in the United States (Leon et al. , 1997 Men et al. , 2003 WHO Global Status Report of Alcohol–Country Profiles, Russian Federation, 2004 ). For example, in the first quarter of 2005, approximately 13 000 people died from accidental alcohol poisoning in Russia (Russian Federation Federal Statistical Service, 2004 Drinks Produced More often than other Fakes–Survey, 2005 ). Overall, alcohol-related mortality is estimated at 500 000 to 750 000 people annually (Nemtsov 2002 MacKellar et al. , 2003 ).

Despite the substantial impact of alcohol consumption on the morbidity and mortality in Russia, its contribution to the overall demographic crisis has been overlooked and de-prioritized by the Russian government (Levintova and Novotny, 2004 Osborn, 2004 Nemtsov, 2005 ). However, since 2004, the Russian government began to rethink alcohol control policies.

This paper focuses on such efforts, specifically analyzing the implementation of the law regulating ethyl alcohol production.

Outpost of an Empire

In the centuries that followed the discovery of America, European expansion into the Western Hemisphere reached a scale that changed the world. The voyages to the New World undertaken by the Atlantic powers of Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries are generally well known, as are the explorations and settlement of Europeans in North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. Less well known, however, is the penetration of America’s northwest coast by the Russians, the culmination of Russia’s age-old effort to settle and develop its eastern frontier.

Russia’s eastward expansion took on a new dimension in the 17th and 18th centuries, as a counterpart to European and American westward expansion. About the same time that English colonists first settled along the Atlantic seaboard, Russian explorers, trappers, and settlers pushed east into Siberia and in 1639 reached the Pacific Ocean. By the mid-17th century frontier promyshlenniki—self employed and contract entrepreneurs—had sailed through the strait that separates Asia from North America, inadvertently discovering a sea route from the Arctic to the Pacific.

But it was not until almost 75 years later, when Tsar Peter the Great became determined to define the geography of the North Pacific, that the potential value of the discoveries in this region became clear. In two arduous voyages, Vitus Bering and Alexei Chirikov, under commission of the Russian Crown, sailed through the area now called the Bering Strait in 1728, and in 1741 discovered the Aleutian Islands and the mainland of Alaska, both of which they claimed for Russia. These results aroused great interest among Russian hunters and traders the fur trade had long been the mainspring of Russia’s eastward expansion, and now these frontier entrepreneurs were drawn to the herds of fur seal and sea otter that lived in the North Pacific.

From the 1740s to the end of the century, over forty Russian merchants and companies sponsored voyages to the Aleutians and the Alaskan mainland. By the early 1800s, Russian entrepreneurs were exporting an average of 62,000 fur pelts from North America each year, worth roughly two-thirds of a million paper rubles (about $133,200), a large sum in those days. Even though over eighty percent of the pelts were fur seal, the nearly five percent that were sea otter pelts were the most valuable.

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The rapid growth of the fur trade called for permanent Russian posts in Alaska as well as bases for hunting expeditions and storing furs. A Russian presence in the Aleutians and on Unalaska Island began to appear in the 1770s, but the first known permanent settlement was founded on Kodiak Island in 1784 by the enterprising merchant Grigory Ivanovich Shelikhov. The hardy, ambitious, and resourceful Shelikhov, who was perhaps the most farsighted Siberian merchant of his day, became an early advocate of extending Russian enterprise as far south as California.

The Russian foothold in Alaska remained undisturbed by other Europeans for several decades. In the minds of Europeans and American colonists of the 18th century, Alaska was barely known—at most, it was little more than a place name for a remote and forbidding land. From the late 1760s on, however, the governments of Spain and Great Britain, both with claims to the North American mainland, became concerned about Russia’s presence in the North Pacific and, later, its monopoly of the fur trade. Spain advanced its territorial claims by sending naval expeditions as far north as Unalaska, and by establishing a chain of missions in Upper California between 1769 and 1776, from San Diego north to San Francisco Bay. Great Britain promoted its cause by sending Captain James Cook to search for a Northwest Passage the Cook expedition visited the northern Pacific coast and Unalaska, where they met the Russians in 1778. The newly formed United States established a claim to the northwest coast, in part as a result of merchant voyages from Boston to the Columbia River of Oregon in 1787-88.

Despite the growing profits of the fur trade in the North Pacific, the number of Russian trading companies in operation at the end of the 18th century declined. The diminishing animal populations in northern waters, the losses of sailing vessels in Alaska storms, and the rising costs of long voyages from the Siberian seaboard to keep the American settlements supplied all combined to reduce the number of trading companies and leave the field only to the strongest. At Grigory Shelikhov’s death in 1795, his firm dominated the trade. In a move of significance for all of Russian America, Shelikhov’s widow, Mme. Natalia Shelikhova, and a business partner combined with another competitor in 1797 to form the United American Company, which two years later reorganized to become the Russian-American Company, chartered by Tsar Paul I.

The Russian-American Company, like other European joint-stock companies (Dutch East India Company, Hudson’s Bay Company, Northwest Fur Company, British East and West India Companies), was given tasks to perform that went beyond the realm of trade. It was authorized to use the coastal areas of North America south to 55° north latitude (near Alaska’s current southern boundary) and to explore and colonize unoccupied lands. It was also given the right to exploit surface and mineral resources in the areas settled by Russians. In effect, it became the “right arm” of the Russian government in the American hemisphere. Members of the Tsar’s family, the court nobility, and high officialdom held shares in the Company, and it was understood that the Company would henceforth control all Russian exploration, trade, and settlement in North America. Shelikhov’s dream of turning the North Pacific into an “inland sea” of the Russian Empire was now under way.

The next step in the continuing expansion along the Northwest Coast of America was the establishment of the Company’s permanent headquarters on the island of Sitka in 1808, a settlement the Russians named Novo-Arkhangel’sk. From here, over the next few years, the Russians established relations with the Spanish in California, set up a base for exploring the California coast, and then founded a colony north of San Francisco as a fur and agricultural supply post.

In 1791 Shelikhov sent Alexandr Andreyevich Baranov to Alaska as his trusted assistant to manage his trading company’s affairs. Baranov’s success earned him the role of first manager-in-chief of the Russian-American Company at its founding in 1799, a post he filled until a few months before his death in 1818. From his headquarters at Novo-Arkhangel’sk, Baranov, with the help of his able assistant, Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov, supervised the Company’s growing enterprises in Alaska, and those as far afield as California and even Hawaii. A man of enormous talent, courage, and stamina, who was both admired and feared by Russians, natives, and foreigners alike, Baranov was the main architect of Russia’s southward expansion.

Worried by the dwindling otter catch in Alaskan waters, Baranov dispatched an exploratory hunting expedition to California in 1803 in a joint venture with an American sea captain, Joseph O’Cain. Sailing as far south as San Diego and Baja California, the voyagers found the otter to be plentiful, which ensured that the sea otter would remain the Company’s most profitable trade item, even if the quality of the fur was not as high as that of the Alaskan otter.

The other nagging problem that drove the Russians south was the persistent difficulty in keeping the new settlements in the North Pacific supplied with adequate provisions to feed their colonists. The harsh physical environment of Alaska and the lack of familiarity with crop and stock raising among the Kodiak and Aleutian Islanders, on whom the Russians relied for labor, worked against their meager attempts at agriculture. Even the efforts of Russian settlers to grow garden produce and to obtain seed were disappointing. The winter of 1805-06 was climactic. The weather was unusually severe, and no supply ships arrived from Siberia for many months. The few staples on hand at Sitka were rationed but soon gave out, and the lean, ill-nourishing diet the settlers had to live on led to malnutrition, scurvy, and death. Upon this dismal scene arrived a high-ranking company official from St. Petersburg to inspect the colony. Nikolai Petrovich Rezanov, imperial chamberlain and son-in-law of Grigory Shelikhov, was appalled at what he saw and reported the colonial territories to be in a “disastrous situation.”

So moved was Rezanov by the misery of the colonists that he purchased a vessel from Americans in Alaska and sailed to San Francisco Bay early in 1806 to purchase grain and, if possible, to establish trade relations with the Spanish in Upper California on a continuing basis. On his arrival, Rezanov boldly ignored the fact that all California ports were officially closed to trade with foreigners. He was at once ordered to anchor. The commandant of the Spanish presidio, Don José Dario Argüello, was away, so Rezanov was met by his son, Don Luís Antonio Argüello, and by several Catholic missionaries, all of whom were favorably impressed by Rezanov’s credentials, guns, and good manners. Soon Rezanov was cordially received at the Presidio by the family of the Spanish commandant.

During the next few weeks, the persuasive Rezanov successfully carried out his goal of trading Russian-made utensils and tools for wheat. With the return of Commandant Argüello to the Presidio, Rezanov was able to gain support for permission to trade with Spanish California, which was referred to Madrid for approval. Rezanov’s cause was further promoted by his romance with the commandant’s daughter, Doña Concepción Argüello, which led to a marriage proposal, and its acceptance, on the eve of his departure.

Returning to Sitka with provisions and news of a possible trade agreement with Spanish California, Rezanov urged Baranov to make use of “the one unoccupied stretch” of California coastline as an agricultural and hunting base for the settlements in Russian Alaska. Then he set out on his return trip to St. Petersburg, traveling via Kamchatka and Siberia, to report to the Tsar and the Company’s home office. On the way, weakened by fever, Rezanov fell from his horse and died of injuries a few days later, on March 1, 1807. It was a year or two before Doña Concepción knew of his fate. But, in Alaska, Baranov and Russian-American Company officials hurried to act on Rezanov’s advice.

In 1803, 1806 and 1808 Baranov had appointed Timofei Tarakanov, a talented promyshlennik, to lead large Native Alaskan hunting parties to California. Between 1808 and 1811, Baranov sent his deputy Kuskov on a series of expeditions to reconnoiter possible settlement sites in “New Albion,” a name used by the Russians after Sir Francis Drake’s designation of California. At Bodega Bay, called Rumiantsev Bay by the Russians, on the Sonoma Coast north of San Francisco Bay, Kuskov established a temporary base and set about exploring the surrounding territory. He examined several sites, and in 1811 selected a cove and promontory up the coast from Bodega Bay as the best location for the colony. Although it lacked the deep-water anchorage the Russians enjoyed in Bodega’s outer bay, the proposed site had overall advantages in soil, timber, water supply, and pasturage. In addition, its relative inaccessibility from Spanish-occupied territory gave it an advantage in terms of defense. Kuskov submitted his recommendations to Baranov, and preparations began for founding a settlement.

In March 1812, with orders to build and administer the settlement, Kuskov returned to the Sonoma Coast. With him came twenty-five Russians, many of them craftsmen, and eighty Aleuts. These Native Alaskans brought forty baidarkas, the swift, maneuverable skin kayaks used for hunting and a few larger skin boats, baidaras, for transport. Kuskov’s assignment was not an unfamiliar one. He had previously administered settlements in Alaska and had built Novo-Arkhangel’sk on Sitka Island after local Indians destroyed the Company fortress in 1802. Construction at the California site began at once. Some of the craftsmen with Kuskov may have worked on reconstructing the Sitka settlement. The structures which rose on the bluff of the new colony took on lines similar to those of Novo-Arkhangel’sk, as the workmen followed models of the traditional stockade, blockhouses, and log buildings found in Siberia and on Sitka.

On August 30, 1812 (in the old style Russian calendar), the name-day of Tsar Alexander I, the Russians held a special religious service at the colony, marking the completion of the stockade. The stockade was built of redwood, much in the same configuration as seen today. Two blockhouses with cannon ports were constructed at the northwest and southeast corners of the stockade. The northwest blockhouse had seven sides and the southeast one had eight, each structure being two stories high. Between twelve and forty cannons were placed within the stockade and blockhouses, the number varying in the different accounts of the site written over the years. Sentries bearing flintlock muskets stood guard in each blockhouse, but although it was fortified, the settlement served as a commercial, not a military outpost. Flagstaffs were first erected in the center of the stockade and outside it on the bluff, each bearing the flag of the Russian-American Company, with the imperial double-headed eagle as its insignia. The settlement was given the name “Ross” most likely to highlight poetically its connection with Imperial Russia (Rossiia). Ross had other early names as well: the Russians often described the outpost as “Ross Colony,” “Ross Settlement,” and “Ross Fortress,” and Company officials called it the “Ross Office.” Its current name, “Fort Ross,” has been used by Americans since the mid-19th century.

By 1820 the stockade interior contained the house of the manager (now called the Kuskov House), the quarters of other officials, barracks for the Russian employees, and various storehouses and lesser structures. Some buildings had two stories. The manager’s house had glass windows and was comfortably furnished. The chapel was added about 1825, replacing a small bell tower on the same site. A well inside the stockade provided the colonists with fresh water in case of emergency. In 1832 an anonymous Bostonian who visited Ross recorded his description of the stockade and manager’s residence: The Presidio is formed by the houses fronting inwards, making a large square, surrounded by a high fence. The Governor’s house stands at the head, and the remainder of the square is formed by the chapel, magazine, and dwelling houses. The buildings are from 15 to 20 feet high, built of large timbers, and have a weather-beaten appearance.

Outside the stockade, a windmill, cattle yard, bakery, threshing floor, and cemetery, along with farm buildings and bath houses, appeared within five years. There were vegetable gardens and an orchard. In later years there were two windmills, two threshing floors, several bathhouses and assorted other structures described in the 1841 Russian Inventory for Sutter. Along the cove, at the mouth of the stream below the stockade, were located a shipyard, forge, tannery, boathouse and storage shed for baidaras and baidarkas.

After 1820 many Russians chose to live outside the stockade. There were also the dwellings of the local Kashaya Indians, on whose ancestral land the outpost was built, and who worked for the Russians. The Native Alaskans who had come with Kuskov, generally designated by the Russians as Aleuts, lived outside the fort as well. Auguste Bernard Duhaut-Cilly, visiting from France in 1828, noted a population of about sixty Russians, eighty “Kodiaks,” and about eighty Indians, all living in relative harmony.

Records show that after 1812 there were from twenty-five to one hundred Russians and from fifty to one hundred twenty-five Native Alaskans at the settlement at any given time. The number of the Kashaya, who came to work as day laborers, varied with the seasons. Records indicate the presence of only a few Russian women in the colony (the most prominent of whom was the wife of the last manager) “creole” and Alaskan women were somewhat more numerous. However, during the life of the colony, a number of Russians and Alaskan natives married California Indian women—Kashaya, Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo—with the consent of tribal and Company authorities. The children at the settlement, who made up about a third of the residents by the mid-1830s, were almost all considered as “Creoles,” born of these ethnically mixed unions.

Everyone in the vicinity of Fort Ross labored for the Russian-American Company. The organization and operation of the colony followed the same general pattern as in the Company’s Alaskan settlements. The Ross colony, as in Alaska, was headed by a manager. He was paid a salary and given living quarters, and, although he also had servants, he worked as hard as any of the colonists, even finding time to tend a garden to add to the food supply. Kuskov, the first manager, was a particularly avid gardener, growing cabbage and beets for pickling, with enough produce harvested for shipments to be sent to Sitka for distribution in Alaska. The Ross settlement had five managers during its existence—Kuskov served from 1812 to 1821, Karl Ivanovich Schmidt from 1821 to 1824, Pavel [Paul] Ivanovich Shelikhov from 1825 to 1830, Peter Stepanovich Kostromitinov from 1830 to 1838, and Alexander Gavrilovich Rotchev from 1838 to 1841.

The rest of the Russian colonists were drawn from various parts of the Russian Empire. Besides prikashchiki, who were the administrative assistants and work supervisors, some of the colonists were artisans—carpenters, blacksmiths, coopers, and those skilled in a trade. Many of the Russians were promyshlenniki (Kuskov used the term promyshlennye in his census of 1821): handymen, laborers, hunters, and occasional seamen in the Company service. Before 1820, such workers were hired to work on a share-of-the-catch basis after that time they were paid a salary, signing on for a seven-year term and agreeing to serve their manager, to resist trading with the natives or foreigners for personal gain, and to avoid vice, particularly drunkenness. Their salary was paid in Company scrip, and out of this they had to buy their clothes and food a portion of meat and flour was allotted to them on a regular basis. In 1832, the 72 salaried employees at Fort Ross averaged an annual income of 360 rubles apiece¾ not a subsistence wage. The Aleuts, with their “passion” for hunting sea otter, were paid according to the number of otters they caught. They were furnished waterproof parkas and boots for the hunt and sea lion skins with which to repair their baidarkas, which could stand the battering of the sea for only about three months before needing to be mended.

Much of the wear and tear on the baidarkas took place in the waters off the Farallon Islands, some 30 miles west of San Francisco, where the Russians, until about 1830, maintained their chief hunting base. Here, in their hunting group, or artel, up to ten Aleuts and Indians under a Russian foreman lived in crude earthen huts on the rocky slopes and regularly embarked upon harpooning forays on shore and sea. They processed their catch at this base camp for periodic shipment to the mainland—bundles of seal and sea otter pelts, bird meat, eggs and feathers, resilient sea lion skin and sinew, salted and dried sea lion meat, and blubber stored in small kegs, used both for food and as lamp oil. Members of the artel and their families were rotated between Fort Ross and the Farallones, depending on the size of the sea mammal herds during the hunting season.

When Kuskov selected the settlement site for Ross on Kashaya territory in 1811, he was uncertain about relations with the Indians. Such concerns proved groundless. Unlike relations between the Indians and other foreigners in California, those between the Russians and the Kashaya were remarkably free of tension and strife. On the whole, the Russians appear to have treated the Kashaya fairly. The Indians employed at the settlement were paid in flour, meat, and clothing (either daily or monthly) lodging was provided, and their labor was at first voluntary, although relations deteriorated later. The coastal Indians regarded the Russians as far more desirable neighbors than the Spaniards, and they viewed the Russian presence as a safeguard against the Spanish (or Mexicans) and against other Indians entering their territory.

The Kashaya called the foreigners associated with the Russian colony the “Undersea People,” whereas they referred to themselves as the “People From the Top of the Land.” Originally, the land made available to the Russians by the Indians was accompanied by an exchange of gifts, mainly tools and trinkets, and professions of friendship. As the settlement grew, the Russians, who were amply aware of Spanish claims to all territory north of San Francisco, prudently decided to formalize their title. Consequently, Chief Manager Baranov sent Captain Leontii Andreianovich Hagemeister to the Sonoma Coast to document the transfer. A deed “releasing land to the Company” was drawn up and agreed upon in 1817 by the local Indian chiefs (Chu-gu-an, Amat-tan, and Gem-le-le), but it was signed only by the Russians present—Hagemeister and six other officials. It stated that “the chiefs are very satisfied with the occupation of this place by the Russians” and that “they now live in security from other Indians who used to attack them.” A copy of the agreement, the only one known to have been executed between Indians and Europeans in California, was dispatched to Russia. Chief Chu-gu-an was presented a silver medal inscribed with the words “Allies of Russia.”

The three-way culture of Native Californians, Native Alaskans, and Russians at Fort Ross was chiefly one of genuine cooperation, which some attribute to the religious values that had been instilled earlier in the Russians and Aleuts, by clergymen in Alaskan Russian America. At Fort Ross many of the Kashaya acquired a good understanding of the Russian language, and a number of Russian words found their way into the Kashaya vocabulary. It is also known that some Kashaya wives and children accompanied their promyshlennik husbands and fathers north to Alaska and even to Russia after the sale of the colony in 1841.

Although no one left a detailed account of daily life in the colony, the observations of both residents and visitors point to a busy if simple existence. In addition to hunting sea mammals and birds, parties fished for salmon, sea perch, and sea bass, and harvested local shellfish for the settlement’s larder. Sturgeon were caught in the Russian River. Farming and ranching consumed many hours of the colonists’ time, with even some of the Aleuts and Indians joining in to handle planting, cultivating, herding, logging, and construction chores. At the sheds along the cove, artisans got to work making furniture, barrels, plows, and other hardware, and later even ships and boats. The blacksmith’s anvil rang with the hammering of metal, as countless articles needed for trade and for operating the colony were fashioned by the skilled workers. Not all was hard work for the employees, however, for at Ross, as in Alaska and in the motherland, various holidays were observed. These occasions were cause for celebrations, which sometimes featured gun and rifle practice, followed by a feast of fresh meat obtained by slaughtering a bull from the settlement’s herd of cattle. All in all, everyday life was active and peaceful.

Not once was the settlement threatened by outside attack. The climate was mild yet invigorating, and the beauty of the surroundings imparted a sense of well-being recorded by many who were there. Manager Rotchev was to look back nostalgically at the time spent in this “enchanting land” as the “best years” of his life.

Closely bound to the lives of the colonists was their religion. The Russians brought with them their Eastern Orthodox Christianity as they had to Siberia and Alaska. In the early 1820s, as reported by the Company’s chief manager, “The Russian, Creole, and Aleut employees at Ross settlement expressed their intention to build at their own expense a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas.” The goal was helped along in 1823-24 when the officers and crews of three Russian Navy ships, on visit to San Francisco Bay, donated a “rather considerable sum” to the proposed chapel, and, soon thereafter, the Company’s home office ordered four icons to be sent from Russia for placement in the building.

Presumably, Paul Shelikhov, the settlement manager at that time, deserves credit for supervising the chapel’s construction, for the first known reference to the “newly built” chapel, the first Orthodox structure established in the New World south of Alaska, came in 1828 from a French visitor, Duhaut-Cilly. The chapel, however, was never consecrated as a church because of the colony’s tenuous legality and the fact that no clergyman was ever permanently assigned. Nevertheless, the colonists conducted prayer meetings in the chapel and designated a sexton for its upkeep. In later years they hosted at least two priests who visited Ross and its chapel.

In the summer of 1836, Father Ioann Veniaminov spent about five weeks at the settlement. While there he preached, instructed, and conducted weddings, confessions, communion services, baptisms, burials, and prayer services. He also held services for the Aleuts (in translation), consecrated the waters of Fort Ross Creek, and led a festive procession around the stockade exterior. According to Father Veniaminov’s detailed journal, about 15 per cent of the settlement’s population, then numbering two hundred and sixty, consisted of Indians baptized in the Eastern Orthodox faith among the residents were also a few who were Lutheran and Catholic. The priest also described his visit to the missions of the San Francisco Bay area and the cordial relations he was able to establish with the Mexicans. In later years, Father Veniaminov became Bishop of Alaska and, subsequently, Metropolitan of Moscow, the senior bishop of the Russian Empire in 1980, he was canonized as Saint Innokenty of Alaska.

As early as 1816, the sea otter catch showed signs of decline, and, by 1820 or so, attention was increasingly given to agriculture and stock raising. But the initial intention of Company officials that the Ross settlement become an important food base for Alaska as well as for the Siberian seaboard (Kamchatka and Okhotsk) was not to be fulfilled. The reasons were many. The arable land around the settlement was limited and relatively infertile. Coastal fogs and encroaching wild oats often caused poor wheat harvest. Gophers, mice, and blackbirds damaged the tilled fields and adversely affected harvests. Despite some attempts at mechanization and scientific farming, introduced by Moscow-trained agronomist Yegor Leontievich Chernykh, the colonists had inadequate knowledge of crop rotation, fertilization, and other farming techniques, and for the most part were unable to reap even marginal yields of grain. Better results were often gleaned from the small-scale plots of wheat and barley under private, individual cultivation. Harvests from private holdings actually surpassed those from the Company’s fields during the tenure of Kuskov’s successor, Karl Schmidt, in the early 1820s. Most long-lasting of the first horticultural efforts at Ross were the Russian experiments with fruit trees. The first peach tree, brought from San Francisco, was planted in 1814, and in 1817-18, Captain Hagemeister introduced grape stock brought from Peru and more peach trees from Monterey. Eventually the Russian orchard, located on the hillside less than a mile from Ross, included apples, peaches, grapes, cherries, and several types of pear. This orchard, which is still maintained today, contains several fruit-bearing trees that were possibly planted over a century and a half ago.

Agriculture at Fort Ross peaked in the early 1830s, but it fell far short of expectations. This disappointment gradually led Company officials to experiment with agriculture inland and to the south. They reasoned that establishing farms in more sheltered areas might not only raise the colony’s overall productivity but would serve as a buffer between the Russian coastal holdings and the Mexican and American settlers advancing from the south. Between 1833 and 1841, the Russians maintained three such ranches. The farthest ranch from Ross was that founded by the agronomist Yegor Chernykh. Chernykh had been sent by the Company to California to improve crop production on the Sonoma Coast

and, soon after his arrival in 1836, he recommended extending the colony’s farming activities farther inland. He established his ranch about ten miles from the coast, in a small valley watered by a wooded stream (Purrington Creek, between Occidental and Graton). There he erected barracks and five other structures, and grew vegetables, fruit, wheat, and other grains. Chernykh also developed a large vineyard, introducing what has since become a major crop in the area.

Another ranch was located on the south side of the Russian River near its mouth, east of today’s State Highway One bridge over the river. The presumed founder was Peter Kostromitinov. By 1841, this farmstead consisted of one hundred acres and produced mainly wheat. In addition to a ranch house, the property contained a barracks, granary, threshing and winnowing floors, and a house for Indian laborers. It also had a kitchen, bath house, corrals, and a boat landing for river crossings. The ranch of Vasily Khlebnikov, a Company employee, was located several miles inland, east of Bodega Bay in the upper Salmon Creek valley. The largest of the three ranches, it had the same types of buildings as on the Kostromitinov Ranch, as well as a bakery, forge, and tobacco shed. Here the Russians used adobe brick in building the main house. A sizable amount of land was allotted to wheat, corn, beans, and tobacco. In 1841 the ranch site was chosen to host a two-day birthday celebration for Yelena (Helena) Pavlovna Rotcheva, the wife of the last manager. The event was attended by guests from the Mexican community at Sonoma, foreign visitors, and Russians from Fort Ross. The festivities featured music and dancing which continued for almost forty-eight hours.

Although the Russians never made it their major enterprise, stock raising was more consistently successful than growing crops, and in time it became an integral part of the economy. Breeding stock, first obtained from the Spanish, produced several thousand head of cattle, horses, mules, and sheep, and enabled substantial shipments of wool, tallow, hides, salt beef, and butter to be sent to Alaska, as well as other destinations, for marketing. Moreover, sheep and cattle provided raw materials for clothing and a variety of household goods, much of which was used in trading. In the early 1820s, about 1,800 pounds of wool were produced annually, more than enough to cover the needs of the colony and to export to the California missions and elsewhere. Although wool blankets and saddle-cloths were woven at Fort Ross, efforts to expand woolen manufacturing proved unsuccessful because of the lack of skilled workers. From tallow the Russians made candles, with wicks of flax or rush, and they also used animal fat combined with oakwood ashes, seashell lime and water to make soap. Lanterns, combs, and powder horns were fashioned from the horns of oxen. Shoe soles and boot uppers were made from hides. In the last years of the colony 1,700 head of cattle, 940 horses and mules, and 900 sheep were in Russian hands, and were described by the French observer, Eugène Duflot de Mofras, as “in prime condition and unquestionably the finest in California.”

The forests surrounding the Russian settlement supplied the raw materials for housing, shipbuilding, and other timber products. The colonists made barrels from redwood at the cooperage, and navigational equipment from the harder wood of bay trees. They boiled pitch from fir and pine trees, and processed tannic acid from the bark of the tan oak tree. They sawed redwood beams, 21 feet long and in various widths, and even prefabricated sections of housing, all of which sold well on the California market.

Because of the abundance of timber, Company officials held high hope for the development of shipbuilding at Ross, primarily as a means of improving trans-Pacific trade and communication. Baranov, in particular, encouraged the enterprise and in 1817 sent a shipwright from Sitka, Vasily Grudinin, to supervise the project. In eight years’ time, three brigs and a schooner were built at the cove, ranging in size from 160 to 200 tons, and in cost from 20,000 to 60,000 rubles each ($4,000 to $12,000). In the end, however, shipbuilding was abandoned, as Company Agent Kiril Timofeyevich Khlebnikov reported, because the oak used in construction was ” . . freshly cut and the wood used while still unseasoned, and by the time the ship was launched the rot had set in. After three or four years the changes in climate caused the rot to increase in all the main parts of the ship, and there was no way to repair it.” As a consequence, the larger vessels could only be used for coastal trade from Monterey to Alaska, and occasionally for a voyage to Hawaii or Okhotsk. Nevertheless, the shipyard at Ross was the first of any size to operate in California, and many of the smaller boats constructed there found a ready market among the Californios, as the Spanish-Mexican settlers were called, of the San Francisco Bay area.

Other commercial activities were more consistently successful, particularly tanning, milling, brickmaking, blacksmithing and foundry work. At the tannery at the mouth of Fort Ross Creek, working with six redwood vats, an Aleut master tanner dressed, tanned, and fashioned hides and skins into shoes, boots, and other leather goods. By the late 1820s between 70 and 90 tanned hides were shipped to Sitka each year. In 1814, the first known wind-powered flour mill in California was built on a knoll north of the stockade another windmill, added some time later, was able to grind over 30 bushels of grain a day. A third mill was hand and animal-powered. After the flour was ground, it was stored, exported, or used for baking in one of the fort’s kitchens. Two mill-driven machines were used to crush tan-oak bark for the tannery. A good-quality clay was found nearby, which led to the manufacture of bricks their production and storage were moved to Bodega in 1832.

Much has been written about the enmity and suspicion that existed between the Russian and the Spanish-Mexican authorities in California, but their disagreements have been overstated. The Spanish government officially forbade its subjects from trading with foreigners. Commercial exchanges, however, did take place between the Spanish and the Russians beginning with Rezanov’s visit, and, in the early days of Ross, the Californios supplied the Russians with their first wheat, fruit trees, cattle, and horses. Because the Californios undertook almost no manufacturing of their own, they had considerable demand for farm implements and household wares. As the Russian colony grew, it was soon able to fulfill some of this demand. There was hardly a useful item of wood, metal, or leather that the promyshlenniki and artisans did not produce, and soon the Russians sold ploughs, axes, nails, wheels, metal cookware and longboats to their neighbors in exchange for grain, salt, and other raw materials.

After Mexico won her independence from Spain in 1821, foreign trade was no longer against the law. Trade between the Californios and the Russians continued, but now there was more competition from the Americans and British. Competition lowered the price of Russian goods and increased the price of California produce. Trade relations were further hampered by the Mexican imposition of new anchorage fees on all foreign vessels entering California ports. One compensation for the Russians, however, was their control of Bodega Bay, their main shipping port. Here they had established storage and supply facilities as well as landing rights, all made available to foreign vessels. Here some supplies were warehoused and others taken to Fort Ross by baidara and baidarka or by horseback. The journey between the port facilities at Bodega Bay and Fort Ross usually took five hours, whether by land or by sea. With this port of entry and with their variety of goods for sale, the Russians were able to continue trading with the Californios, as evidenced, for example, by the records of the sale of gunpowder and uniforms, procured or produced by the Russians, to General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo, on the nearby Mexican frontier.


A number of explorers, scientists, artists, and men of letters from Imperial Russia used Ross as a base of operation while pursuing their investigations and recording their findings. Others used Russian ships in San Francisco Bay as springboards for exploration, travel, and scientific research. Some of these men were on expeditions sponsored by the Russian government or by private initiative others were Company employees with a penchant for observation, who recorded what they saw around them. Altogether, their pioneering work in the geography, botany, zoology, entomology, geology, meteorology, and ethnology of the region contributed information and insight valuable to the present day.

The first of these observers, the physician and biologist Georg Heinrich von Langsdorff, accompanied Rezanov to California in 1806. Langsdorff was a correspondent member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, and the memoirs of his stay present a classic account of early Spanish California. His sketches of California Indians and their artifacts are among the earliest portraits of native life to have survived.

In 1808 Ivan Kuskov and his crew explored Bodega Bay soon thereafter Kuskov traveled 45 miles up the Russian River (which he named the Slavianka) in search of a site suitable for settlement. Later he sent parties of Native Alaskans on expeditions up the coastline as far north as Humboldt and Trinidad Bays. It was Manager-in-Chief Baranov who decided to rename Bodega Bay Rumiantsev Bay in honor of Count Nikolai Petrovich Rumiantsev, Russian Foreign Minister and a wealthy patron of the Russian-American Company. By 1818, Kuskov’s promyshlenniki had traveled almost 70 miles up the Sacramento River later they ascended the American River above what is now Sutter’s Fort.

In 1816, Captain Otto von Kotzebue headed a voyage around the world. Privately chartered by Count Rumiantsev, the ship brought the naturalist Adelbert von Chamisso, the artist Louis Andreyevich Choris, and the entomologist-zoologist Johann Friedrich Eschscholtz to California. During their stay in the San Francisco area, Chamisso collected the California poppy and gave it the botanical name Eschscholzia californica, after his friend and the land that they were investigating. On a return trip to California with Kotzebue in 1824, Eschscholtz made a large insect collection, recorded the geology of the area, and carefully described such mammals as bears, skunks, deer, and “mountain goats,” with “long hair hanging from their legs, and short, rather straight horns.” Kotzebue left detailed memoirs of his California travels on both occasions he provides, for example, the first mention of the geysers of Sonoma County, confusing them with the smoke of Indian campfires.

In 1818, Captain Vasily Nikolaevich Golovnin, of the Russian Navy, visited northern California and included stops at Fort Ross and Bodega Bay. His memoirs describe the warm welcome given him by the Miwok chiefs at Bodega Bay, as well as many observations of Indian life and customs, including the autumn grass fires intentionally set to encourage the growth of seeds and grains. Golovnin made a useful navigator’s map of the Bodega Bay area, with precise water depths and topographical features included. On board his ship was the young artist Mikhail Tikhonovich Tikhanov, who made a series of five color sketches of California Indians while ashore at Bodega Bay. In the mid-1820s, another Russian naval officer, Lieutenant Dmitry Irinarkhovich Zavalishin, visited San Francisco Bay. In an extensive literary portrait of the Spanish population and local geography he wrote that he traveled overland to Fort Ross, Santa Cruz and east to the Calaveras-Mariposa area.

During the early 1830s, Baron Ferdinand Petrovich von Wrangell, while manager-in-chief of the Russian-American Company, strongly encouraged the scientific study of the wildlife and geography of North America. In 1833 on a journey to evaluate the possibilities of extending the Russian settlement farther inland, he personally conducted the first anthropological study of the Indian population of the Russian River area and the Santa Rosa plain. Along with his own written observations on the natural habitat and Indian customs Wrangell arranged to have the Imperial Academy of Sciences publish a comprehensive anthropological account of California Indians written by Manager Peter Kostromitinov. Also invaluable today are the first systematic weather records kept in California, compiled by Yegor Chernykh between 1837 and 1840. These documented temperature, sky cover, air pressure, precipitation and wind conditions at Ross and at his ranch ten miles inland.

Among the later visitors to Ross was the naturalist and artist, Ilya Gavrilovich Voznesenskii. A trained scientist and competent graphic artist, Voznesenskii was sent by the Imperial Academy of Sciences to explore and investigate Russian America. Many important sketches of the Ross Settlement and its surrounding area come from Voznesenskii’s hand, the result of a year-long visit to Northern California. His avid interest in California’s flora and fauna, as well as Indian life, took him far afield by foot, boat, and horseback.

In May 1841, Chernykh and Voznesenskii joined forces to map and name the tributaries of the Russian River as far north as the Healdsburg area. Shortly afterward they made the first recorded ascent of Mt. St. Helena. A metal plaque, in Russian and Spanish, was made in advance, and the explorers installed it on the north summit to mark their feat. In the 1850s the plaque was removed, but a facsimile was made for the Fort Ross centennial in 1912 to replace it this marker remains atop Mt. St. Helena. Voznesenskii also traveled up the Sacramento River to visit the Swiss émigré, Captain Johann (John) Augustus Sutter, at his ranch and fort, New Helvetia. He rode up California’s central valley to explore the volcanic Sutter Buttes with his host, who would soon play a major role in the fate of Fort Ross.

On these and other expeditions, Voznesenskii was able to gather an ethnographically invaluable collection of California Indian artifacts. These include ornaments, weapons, garments and baskets that can be seen today at the Museum of Ethnography, St. Petersburg, Russia. Many of these objects are the sole surviving items of their kind. Voznesenskii’s travel notes tell of his many local excursions, from the islands of San Francisco Bay to the forests of the Mendocino Coast. They contain observations of the lives of Californians, from the children at Fort Ross to the foreign merchants at Yerba Buena (San Francisco).

By 1839, for all the diversity of activity at Fort Ross, officials of the Russian-American Company had decided to abandon the colony. The California sea otter population had been largely depleted by the mid-1830s, and the Russian shift of emphasis from hunting to farming and stock raising, to produce large quantities of grain, beef, and dairy products, did not match expectations. Moreover, the experiment in shipbuilding, while impressive in the short run, proved defective over time, and trade in manufactured goods did not return enough profit to offset deficits.

At the same time, the Mexican government’s active encouragement of new settlers into the area, as well as a growing influx of Americans, posed a looming challenge to Russian claims over territory, which neither the Imperial government in distant St. Petersburg nor the Russian-American Company was able to meet. A last effort to avert a Russian withdrawal came in 1836 when Baron von Wrangell journeyed from Sitka to Mexico City to seek an improvement in relations with the new Mexican Republic. He also sought Mexico’s formal recognition of the legality of Russia’s claim to Fort Ross, previously denied by both Spain and Mexico. The Mexicans were willing to yield on this issue, but only in return for Russia’s diplomatic recognition of their own national independence as a republic. However, Tsar Nicholas I, an unwavering defender of absolute monarchy and a foe of revolutionary change, rejected the condition, and so ended any chance of a favorable resolution of the contested issue of the “legitimacy” of the Russian colony. In April 1839, the Tsar approved of the Company’s plan to liquidate the settlement, and shortly thereafter the Company offered all of its California holdings for sale.

The man charged with selling the colony and its assets was Alexander Rotchev, who had arrived at Fort Ross in mid-1836, on a temporary assignment. Joining him later were his wife, Helena, the Princess Gagarina, and their three children. A prominent writer and literary translator conversant in several languages, the energetic and talented Rotchev, together with his attractive wife, soon lent a new tone to life in the frontier community, giving it vigor, intensity, and sophistication in its last few years. Named to succeed Kostromitinov as manager of the colony in late 1838, Rotchev was quick to grasp the problems facing the distant colonial outpost and proved himself to be a resourceful administrator and diplomat. Although he personally opposed the decision to sell the colony, he faithfully carried out his orders, ably conducting the intricate negotiations that led to the sale of the Company’s assets in California.

Rotchev first approached the Hudson’s Bay Company regarding the purchase, but the British turned down the offer in 1840. He then made overtures to France through the French military attaché in Mexico City, Eugène Duflot de Mofras. Duflot made an extensive visit to Ross to investigate the area first-hand, but he, too, declined to put forth a bid, on the grounds that he lacked authority in such matters. The Russian-American Company then ordered Rotchev to offer the outpost to Mexico. Both the Mexican Government and General Vallejo of Sonoma rejected the Russian terms, partly because Mexico already considered Fort Ross as legally its own, and possibly because they hoped that the Russians would simply abandon the outpost.

Rotchev then approached Captain Sutter at his ranch in the Sacramento Valley, and in late 1841 Sutter agreed to buy the Russian-American Company’s assets. This included all the buildings, livestock, and implements, but not the land itself, which was still claimed by Mexico. The contract stipulated that Sutter pay the Company the equivalent of $30,000 in installments, in both cash and produce. However, a separate, unofficial deed, signed by Rotchev one day earlier than the day on which Sutter, a Mexican citizen, signed the official contract, transferred to the new owner a stretch of land extending from Cape Mendocino to Point Reyes and inland for 12 miles. (This deed did not surface publicly until 1857 and then caused considerable legal controversy.)

On January 1, 1842, Rotchev and about one hundred colonists sailed from Bodega Bay on the last Russian ship bound for Sitka. After 30 years, the flag of the Russian-American Company was lowered at Fort Ross, and the Russian epoch in the history of California came to a close.

The venture of the Russian-American Company into California was short-lived. However, the memory of it has lingered long, preserved in the buildings and the stockade at Fort Ross, both original and restored, in the place names of scattered creeks and coves along the northern coast and of the largest river in Sonoma County, and in the vestiges of Russian and Native Alaskan influence on the Kashaya Pomo language and culture. The Russians were the first to explore and map parts of Northern California, and they were also the first known Europeans to climb Mt. St. Helena.

The abandonment of Fort Ross was a harbinger of Russia’s withdrawal from North America altogether. The Russian-American Company’s profits continued to decline, and, when the Company’s charter expired in 1862, it was extended thereafter only provisionally. Meanwhile, Russia’s preoccupation with developing its newly acquired Pacific territories north of China was increasing, and the prospective costs of continuing to maintain the outposts in America, especially in the face of a growing British presence, led Russia to sell its Alaskan holdings to the United States Government in 1867, thus terminating a century-long territorial presence in America. In retrospect, the withdrawal from Fort Ross, Russia’s easternmost outpost, signaled a turning point in the expansion of the Russian Empire. As the world’s largest contiguous empire, Imperial Russia chose to redirect its energies and consolidate itself on only two continents instead of three.


Fort Ross Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) and California State Park cooperating association, connects people to the history and beauty of Fort Ross and Salt Point State Parks.

© Fort Ross Conservancy, 19005 Coast Highway One, Jenner, CA 95450, 707-847-3437

Did the Russian alcohol monopoly in the 1700s cover the whole Russian territory? - History

From 1400 to 1700, Dutch per capita income growth was the fastest in Europe, and from 1600 to the 1820s its level was the highest. Before 1600 this performance was due to seizure of opportunities for trade in Northern Europe, and success in transforming agriculture by hydraulic engineering. Thereafter prosperity was augmented by its role in world trade.

The Dutch Republic became independent in 1579 by breaking away from a larger “Netherlands” ruled by Spain28. The struggle to achieve and maintain independence lasted for nearly 80 years. The Dutch defeated a Spanish empire which included Castile, Aragon, Portugal (from 1580 to 1640), Naples, Sicily, the Duchy of Milan, Franche Comté, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, West Indies, Tunis, Flanders, Brabant, Luxembourg, Lille, Artois and Hainault.

It is useful to consider the economic and political context from which the Netherlands economy emerged. From the twelfth century onwards, Flanders and Brabant were the most prosperous part of Northern Europe. The leading cities of Flanders (Bruges, Ghent and Ypres) were the major centre of the European woollen textile industry, making very high quality draperies, tapestries and furnishing materials, which were sold all over Europe. The raw materials were to a substantial extent supplied by imports — wool from England and alum (a cleansing agent indispensable in the cloth industry) which Genoese traders brought from Chios. Woad and other dyestuffs, fuller’s earth and other items were mainly local products. In the middle of the fourteenth century (see Postan, 1987, p. 180), English wool exports were running at nearly 7 000 tons a year, most going to Flanders via the English port of Calais. By the middle of the fifteenth, English wool exports had dropped by four fifths and the wool imports of Flanders came from Spain, being shipped from Bilbao and other Spanish Atlantic ports. England had become an exporter rather than an importer of woollen textiles, but a substantial part of its cloth exports were undyed and sent to Flanders for finishing. McNeill (1974) pp. 53–4 indicates the magnitude of the massive Genoese alum shipments to Flanders between the mid–fourteenth to mid– sixteenth century: “Having captured Chios in 1346, they used the island as an entrepôt, collecting the yield of all the mines of Asia Minor there. This assured a constant supply of adequate quantities of alum to fill the holds of vast specialised ships — some twenty such vessels, of a size greater than any wooden ship attained before or afterward, plied regularly between Chios and Bruges, winter and summer, stopping en route only at Cadiz to take on water and other supplies.” Postan suggests that the annual production of Flemish woollen cloth in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was more than 150 000 pieces of 28 yards (25.8 metres) in length. In addition Flanders produced linens for export, using local supplies of flax.

Flanders was heavily urbanised and much of its food was imported. There were substantial imports of grain (wheat and barley from France and England, rye from the Baltic), fish from the Baltic and Holland, and wine from France. Postan suggests that wine exports from Bordeaux were running at 25 million gallons a year at the beginning of the fourteenth century. A large proportion of this went to England, some to the Baltic, and a substantial amount to Flanders and Brabant.

By the mid–fourteenth century, the cities of Brabant (Antwerp, Leuven and Brussels) gained an economic edge on Flanders, due to the silting up of water routes to Bruges, the greater enterprise of Antwerp and British competition with the Flemish woollen industry. In Flanders, output, marketing and production practices tended to be heavily regulated by guilds. Foreign trade was conducted through periodic fairs or “staple” arrangements which confined international transactions to particular towns and gave privileged access to the consortium of German merchants in the Hanseatic League. Antwerp had a magnificent harbour at the mouth of the Scheldt, and a more commercial, less regulatory approach. It was the major North European centre for international banking, and loans to foreign rulers, e.g. Henry VIII of England. The Antwerp bourse provided a model for the London Exchange.

Both Flanders and Brabant conducted a substantial amount of international business in their high value exports by land, but for heavy imported goods, sea transport was very much cheaper. A large part of these imports came by sea and river in ships and boats from Holland, Zeeland and the Northern Provinces.

The seven Northern Provinces which united to create the Dutch Republic (Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Overijssel, Friesland and Groningen successively in 1579–80) were very different from Flanders and Brabant29. They occupied a flat amphibious terrain where the relationship between land and water was very close. There were major natural waterways. The Rhine provided transport deep into Germany, to Cologne and Frankfurt–am–Main. Its delta was full of islands and natural harbours. The Ijssel led into the Zuider Zee, the Ems provided an excellent route to the North German coast. In such a setting, the leading industries were fisheries, sea and river transportation and shipbuilding. Agriculture was also deeply marked by the possibilities for hydraulic management and irrigation.

In the fourteenth century, the merchant marine of the Northern Provinces had established a major position in the North Sea and Baltic, carrying rye and timber from East Germany and Poland which was shipped via Danzig furs, wax, honey, pitch, tar and timber from Russia via Narva and Riga copper, iron ore, weapons and salt herring from Sweden salted cod and timber from Bergen in Norway. In return they carried re–exports of English woollen textiles, salt (for preserving fish and meat) and re– exports of wine from France. Apart from these merchanting activities, they acted as carriers, e.g. between Danzig and Riga, when opportunities arose.

Shipping and trade in the Baltic had previously been monopolised by a consortium of German merchants (the Hanseatic League) with headquarters in Lübeck, and commercial bases in London, Bruges, etc. Hanseatic trade from the Baltic had relied to a large extent on the short land route from Lübeck to Hamburg. The Dutch pioneered the sea route through the Danish sound, which though longer, was cheaper. In 1437–41 the Hanseatic League engaged in hostilities to try to drive Dutch ships from the Baltic, but, with support from Danzig, the Dutch kept the right to trade. This trade was well documented, because Denmark, whose territory then included Southern Sweden, controlled the entry to the Baltic and levied tolls. In 1500, 300–400 Dutch ships a year entered the Baltic, and by the 1560s, more than 1 300. Grain shipments amounted to about 100 000 tons a year in the latter period.

The Dutch ships involved in this trade operated from the coasts of Zeeland, Holland and Friesland. Dordrecht was the major port for traffic on the Rhine with Germany and with Liège via the Meuse. Middelburg (on the island of Walcheren), opposite the mouth of the Scheldt, imported English woollen cloth, French wine, grains and salt, and in the sixteenth century, spices and sugar from Portugal. The Dutch trading fleet was by far the biggest in Europe. By the 1560s, on the eve of independence, the province of Holland alone had 1 800 seagoing ships (Israel, 1995, p. 117). The carrying capacity of Dutch merchant shipping in 1570 was about the same as the combined fleets of France, Germany and England (see Table 2–15). Per head of population, Dutch shipping capacity was 25 times as big as in these three northern countries.

Herring fisheries were an important part of Dutch shipping activity. The herring were sold fresh or lightly salted near to the ports or were processed and barrelled for international trade. Before 1400, herring shoals best suited for salting were off the Swedish coast, but in the fifteenth century, they migrated into the North Sea, so the bulk of the catch was taken by Dutch ships. A technological breakthrough increased productivity substantially. Dutch shipyards developed a new type of factory ship (a herring “buss”), with nets, rigging and processing facilities which permitted crews of 18 to 30 men to gut, clean, salt and barrel the herring whilst at sea. Vessels of this type could make three trips a year of five to eight weeks during the open season from June to December. By the 1560s there were 400 Dutch vessels of this type operating from the province of Holland, with ownership concentrated on urban investors. At this time, the Dutch were exporting herring to the Baltic rather than importing (see de Vries and van der Woude, 1997, pp. 243–54). In the seventeenth century, Dutch ships embarked on whale fishing off Spitzbergen in the Arctic.

Water control played a major role in Dutch agricultural development. Marshes, bogs, low–lying land subject to frequent flooding were not attractive in their natural state. Agricultural settlers in the Middle Ages occupied mounds and turned them into polders by building dykes to keep off flood waters. In time, skills in hydraulic management improved, and large areas of new land were reclaimed. By the beginning of the sixteenth century, water management and engineering was entrusted to professionals responsible for development and maintenance. Farming communities raised taxes and provided funds for the waterboards. Windmills were used as a source of power for pumps which controlled water flow in canals. As de Vries (1974) p. 27 noted: “Much of fourteenth century Holland was, in effect, a new country. Only in east–Elbian Germany can one find reclamation being carried out in so systematic a manner and over such large tracts.

This conquest of nature had important social implications. Only a small part of the Dutch population was constrained by feudal restrictions. Peasants were freer than anywhere else in Europe. Some were landowners, many more paid money rents or worked for wages. The reliance on water control generated solidaristic attitudes which are still observable in Dutch society.

Dutch agriculture developed a high degree of specialisation. Much of the grain supply came from imports, and domestic production concentrated heavily on meat, milk, butter and cheese. Two features were more developed than elsewhere in Europe: a) stall feeding of cattle through the winter months, and b) large production of vegetables. Over time there was an increased emphasis on industrial crops — hops for the beer industry, flax, hemp and madder for textiles, and later, tobacco and tulip bulbs. There was a gradual transformation of agriculture into horticulture.

In large areas of the Northern Netherlands there were layers of peat several metres deep which were a potential source of cheap energy for many purposes. After 1600, about 275 000 hectares of these peat–bogs were stripped. Engineering skills in land reclamation, drainage, and pumping were easily transferable to peat extraction. In the Groningen area, urban investors set up companies to exploit this resource on a large scale on confiscated monastic lands.

Transport of peat, hay, wheat, cattle, timber, building materials and other heavy freight became a good deal cheaper in the middle of the seventeenth century, because of the creation of a network of canals equipped with tow–paths. Drawn by horses, canal barges carried freight, mail and passengers on regular schedules, at seven kilometres an hour, day and night, at frequent intervals between virtually all areas of the country. “In the 1660s, nearly 300 000 passengers travelled annually on the Amsterdam– Haarlem route, 140 000 glided between Haarlem and Leiden, and some 200 000 between Leiden and the joint destinations of the Hague and Delft” (de Vries and van der Woude, 1997, p. 187). No other country had such a cheap and dense transport network. Road freight carried by carts was slower and much more expensive. As Sir William Temple (1693), p. 152 put it: “one Horse shall draw in a Boat more than fifty can by Cart — And by this easie way of Travelling, an industrious Man loses no time from his Business, for he Writes, or eats, or Sleeps, while he goes.”

The biggest industries in the Dutch provinces at the time of independence were shipbuilding, sailcloth, fishing nets, ropes, barrels and associated items, salt refining, breweries, brickworks and timber for buildings, and a substantial woollen and linen textile industry.

The circumstances under which the partition of the Netherlands occurred had an enormous positive impact on the economic potential of the new republic. They were also detrimental to the economic interests of Portugal, Spain and the Spanish Netherlands.

The struggle against the Spanish regime had involved repression and resistance in the Southern Netherlands as well as the North. The inquisition started in 1523 with the burning of two dissident clergy at the stake in Brussels. In the next 50 years more than 2 000 had met the same fate and a large proportion were from the South. The Count of Egmont, the governor of Flanders, a catholic who had been a distinguished general in the Spanish armies, was executed in 1567 because he had protested against Spanish fiscal demands and curtailment of previous political rights of the Southern nobility. Malines (Mechelen) was sacked by Spanish troops and part of its population massacred in 1572. Antwerp suffered deaths and serious property damage from the depredations of riotous Spanish soldiers in 1576. Its losses were even greater during the Spanish siege in 1583–85.

As a result, there was large scale migration from Flanders and Brabant to the new republic. Between 1583 and 1589 the population of Antwerp fell from 84 000 to 42 000. In Bruges and Ghent the exodus of refugees reached the same proportions. In Mechelen, the population fell by two thirds. In the Republic, the population of Middelburg trebled, in Leiden it doubled, 30 000 came to Amsterdam (see Israel, 1995, pp. 307–12). Altogether, the influx was about 150 000, more than 10 per cent of the population of the South, and a bigger proportionate addition to the North. As the North had huge imports of grain and fish which no longer went to the South, there was no problem feeding the new population. The northern confiscation of monastic properties helped in accommodating the influx.

The refugees included a large proportion of the merchant class and bankers of the Southern Netherlands (though some of the latter went to Germany). They brought capital, skills and international contacts. Virtually all of the Jewish population moved to the North. Migration of skilled workers strengthened the textile industry of Leiden. Immigrants also brought skills for other industries including printing, publishing and sugar refining. Before the partition, the only university had been in Leuven (founded 1425). This was one of the largest and most distinguished in Europe, but its freedom was curtailed by the inquisition. The university of Leiden was founded in the North in 1575 followed by Franeker (1585), Harderwijk (1600), Groningen (1614) and Utrecht (1634). Leiden was the biggest with a full range of faculties and offered a humanist education in the tradition of Erasmus. It soon began to attract a large international student body from Germany, Britain and Scandinavia, as well as the refugees from the South.

The political change opened possibilities for a worldwide expansion in Dutch shipping activity to the detriment of Portugal and Spain. In the 1590s, trade with Asia was inaugurated with trial voyages around the Cape into the Indian Ocean to the spice islands, and West via the Magellan Straits to Japan. Barents, 1596–7, made an unsuccessful attempt at a Northeastern passage via Archangel and Novaya Zemlaya. Hudson discovered New York in 1609 whilst seeking a Northwest passage. Within 30 years the Dutch displaced the Portuguese as the dominant European traders with Asia. They seized Portuguese bases in West Africa, acquiring a substantial share of the trade in gold and slaves. They attacked the Spanish empire in the Americas, occupying Northeast Brazil and its profitable sugar industry from 1630 to 1654 (at that time Portugal was ruled by Spain), then moved their base to the Caribbean (Curaçao and Surinam). There was also significant pirate activity. The greatest coup was Piet Heijn’s capture of the whole Spanish silver fleet off Cuba in 1628.

From 1585 to 1795, for reasons of military and naval security and commercial advantage, the Dutch successfully blockaded the mouth of the Scheldt, consolidated the ruin of Antwerp, and imposed a very serious constraint on the economic progress of the Spanish Netherlands. In the course of the seventeenth century, Spanish military potential weakened enormously, but the Dutch had no interest in conquering the Southern Netherlands, which was a useful buffer against French territorial ambitions.

Throughout the seventeenth and for most of the eighteenth century, British economists recognised the superiority of Dutch performance and policy. William Petty’s pioneering work on Political Arithmetick, written in 1676 and published in 1690 was perhaps the most astute assessment. He demonstrated that a “small country and few people may be equivalent in wealth and strength to a far greater people and territory.” He provided a foretaste of the type of reasoning used later by Adam Smith and Douglass North when he compared the performance of France and Holland. The population of France was more than ten times that of the United Provinces, but he estimated the Dutch merchant fleet to be nine times as big as the French, its foreign trade four times as big, its interest rate about half the French level, its foreign assets large, those of France negligible. The Dutch economy was highly specialised, importing a large part of its food, hiring mercenaries to fight its wars, and concentrating its labour force in high productivity sectors. Its flat terrain permitted substantial use of wind power. High density of urban settlement, good ports and internal waterways reduced transport and infastructure costs, cheapened government services and reduced the need for inventories. Dutch institutions favoured economic growth. Religious tolerance encouraged skilled immigration. Property rights were clear and transfers facilitated by maintenance of cadastral registers. An efficient legal system and sound banking favoured economic enterprise. Taxes were high but levied on expenditure rather than income. This encouraged savings, frugality and hard work. Thus the Dutch were a model of economic efficiency with obvious lessons for British policy.

In a similar vein, Gregory King (1696) made a comparative assessment of the resource mobilisation of England, France and the Netherlands in fighting the war of the League of Augsburg. For the nine year conflict, William III, the Dutch stadholder who had become King of England, organised a coalition of the United Kingdom, Netherlands, the German protestant states, Spain and Savoy against France, which had challenged the legitimacy of his succession to the English throne and annoyed its neighbours by trying to expand its frontiers. King estimated French and English per capita fiscal revenues in 1695 to be similar, but in the Netherlands the level was more than two and a half times as large.

The cost of maintaining Dutch independence was high, involving the creation of a chain of fortresses in the South and on the East (where the country was vulnerable from attack via catholic states in Germany — particularly the bishopric of Munster). Its army and naval expenditures were costly. It had to build up an armaments industry. It was involved in a series of wars in which England and France became the main enemies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Towards the end of the seventeenth century Dutch economic expansion faltered. The Netherlands became the victim rather than the beneficiary of the beggar–your–neighbour policies of the merchant capitalist era. British and French shipping, trade and industry grew much faster than those of the Netherlands. Both countries adopted protectionist policies which damaged Dutch interests. The most important were the British Navigation Acts and similar French provisions. From 1651 onwards Dutch shipping and Dutch ship exports had restricted access to the ports of the United Kingdom and were barred from trade with English and French colonies. When these countries waged war with the Netherlands they did so with the concentrated energy of modern nation states — very different from the way Spain had dissipated its energy.

The main reason for loss of dynamism in the eighteenth century was the destruction of monopolistic trading privileges in conflicts with France and the United Kingdom, which pushed the Dutch to the sidelines.

Population growth slackened as the economy ceased to attract migrants. There was stagnation in the industrialised western Netherlands and substantial growth in the agricultural province of Overijssel. Agricultural output increased, with a fall in imports and a growth in agricultural exports. There was a decline in production and exports of textiles (particularly the Leiden woollen industry), fisheries and shipbuilding. The volume of foreign trade dropped 20 per cent from 1720 to 1820. During this period UK exports rose more than sevenfold in volume, and French by two and threequarters.

Dutch service industries continued to play an important part in the economy, and there was a large increase in overseas investment. In 1790 total foreign investment probably amounted to 800 million guilders at a time when national income was around 440 million. If the rate of return on foreign investment was around 4 per cent, then foreign income would have been around 30 million guilders, giving a national income about 8 per cent higher than domestic product. The combination of rising rentier incomes, together with pauperism and unemployment in the old industrial areas, increased inequality.

Dutch Economic Activity Outside Europe

Dutch objectives in Africa were to get access to the gold of the Guinea coast, enter the slave trade to the Americas, and acquire a base for ventures in Asia.

They succeeded in capturing Elmina in 1637 and several other Portuguese bases in West Africa for trade in gold and slaves. For a time they captured a foothold in Angola (the main slave base for the Portuguese) but failed to keep it. They also failed to take Mozambique (in East Africa). They established a new base at the Cape in South Africa, introducing European settlers to provide a staging and supply post for their voyages to Asia.

The major economic gain came from participation in the slave trade. Slaves were shipped to Northeastern Brazil and to Surinam for Dutch sugar plantations, and to Curaçao for sale to British and French sugar planters. However, the Dutch role in the trade was a good deal smaller than that of Portugal, England and France (see Table 2–5).

In the Americas, the first major venture was the capture of the sugar producing region of Northeast Brazil (around Recife) from 1630 to 1654. Sugar was transported to the Netherlands where there were 40 refineries by 1650.

The venture in Brazil had substantial military and naval support but the sugar plantations were run by private enterprise. Most were owned by sephardic jews from Amsterdam, many of Portuguese origin. During the period when Portugal was governed by Spain, the Dutch were reasonably well received in Brazil, but after Portugal regained its independence, they were expelled. Many plantation owners then moved to the Caribbean where they introduced the same production techniques and marketing patterns. Their arrival transformed the economy of Barbados which the British had occupied in 1627 and grew tobacco with white settlers. Within a short time the island had 30 000 slaves and was totally devoted to sugar (see Eltis, 1995, for a proxy assessment of the GDP of Barbados in 1644–1701). Emigrant plantation owners from Brazil had a similar impact in Guadeloupe and Martinique which had been French since 1635 (see Verlinden, 1972, p. 642–4). By the 1660s and 1670s, the British and French had driven out the Dutch, who moved their sugar activities to Surinam.

In the early seventeenth century, sugar production in the Americas had been concentrated on Brazil. But from mid–century, Brazilian production stagnated and a hugely expanded market was dominated by France and Britain. Dutch production in Surinam was on a much smaller scale (see Table 2–4).

Another Dutch venture in the Americas was the inadvertent discovery of a magnificent harbour and huge river by Henry Hudson. He was on a Dutch East India Company mission to try to discover a Northwest passage to Asia in 1609 and hopelessly off course. In 1614 the New Netherlands Company was founded to settle a colony with its capital at New Amsterdam in 1623. In 1664 it was taken over by the British, and in 1674 formally ceded (as New York) in exchange for a free hand for Dutch sugar interests in Surinam (de Vries and van de Woude, 1997, pp. 397 and 467).

The most successful area of Dutch involvement outside Europe was in Asia.

The Dutch were extremely well informed about Asian trading prospects, for many had worked on Portuguese ships. One of them, Jan Huygen van Linschoten, produced two travel journals in 1595 and 1596 with detailed maps, information on markets, winds and potential routes. In 1602, under official pressure, all Dutch merchants in this trade were compelled to join the United East India Company (VOC) which was given monopoly trading rights and authority to establish military outposts and negotiate with foreign rulers. The Company owned and built all its own ships. The comparative volume of Dutch trading activity in Asia can be seen in Table 2–6. In the seventeenth century they sent out nearly five times as many ships as the Portuguese, and in the eighteenth, 15 times as many. The average size of their ships was smaller than the Portuguese who were then using huge carracks of 1 000 tons, against 600 tons for the average Dutch ship. The English East India Company (EIC) was a more important competitor than the Portuguese. They entered the Asian trade at the same time as the Dutch. Their main bases were at two towns they created in India (Madras 1639, and Calcutta in the 1690s) and Bombay which was a wedding gift from Portugal to Charles II in 1661. EIC operations in the seventeenth century were about half the size of those of the VOC, and about two thirds in the eighteenth. The French entered the Asian trade with the Compagnie des Indes Orientales which Colbert created in 1664. They established a base at Pondicherry (on the Coromandel coast) in 1673. By the eighteenth century, a new French company, created in 1719, had become a very significant presence. Later participants were Danish and Swedish companies, and from 1715–32, the Ostend company operating from the new port which the Austrian administration had created in the Southern Netherlands.

The total volume of European shipping in Asia in the eighteenth century was about nine times as big as it had been in the sixteenth, but the scope for traditional exports of pepper and spices was limited. This meant that the Dutch, who were more heavily involved in this trade than the English and French and other newcomers, had to be careful to control supply in order to maintain prices. The opportunities for new exports to Europe — a wide variety of cotton textiles, coffee and tea — were much more promising and their share of the trade rose rapidly, for all of the participants in the market (see Table 2–20).

The initial thrust of the VOC was to bypass the Portuguese, using a new route via the Cape and sailing direct to Indonesia. This brought them directly to the Moluccan islands where the most valuable spices (cloves, nutmeg and mace) could be found. They were also able to get pepper in Indonesia, rather than India. The indigenous rulers in the Indonesian islands were much weaker than those in India, Persia, China and Japan, and more susceptible to Dutch pressure to enforce monopoly rights and low prices. The VOC established its headquarters in 1621 on the Javanese coast at Batavia (present– day Jakarta). They drove the Portuguese out of Ternate in 1603, and destroyed their base at Malacca in 1641. They also expelled the muslim merchants who had previously traded on the Javanese coast.

The population of the spice islands revolted in 1621. They were all killed or deported and replaced by Dutch planters working with slave labour.

In order to help finance its Indonesian operations, the VOC established a base at Masulipatnam on the East (Coromandel) coast of India. Here it obtained the agreement of the King of Golconda, who granted preferential trading conditions. The company’s main interest was in cotton textiles, in particular painted chintz, which were in demand in Indonesia. Later the VOC moved further down the coast and shifted their base to Negapatam in 1690 where textiles were cheaper.

In 1617, the VOC obtained permission from the Moghul empire to establish a base in Surat in Gujarat in Northwest India, dislodging Portuguese operations in this area. Here they could exchange pepper and spices for coarse cotton textiles for use as a barter item in the African slave trade.

Later in the seventeenth century, the VOC tried to drive the Portuguese from their bases in Goa and Ceylon. It blockaded but did not capture Goa, but took Jaffna in Ceylon, replaced the Portuguese in the cinnamon trade and as rulers of the island. Portuguese trading on the Malabar coast was harassed, but that area did not have substantial commercial interest for the Dutch.

There was an early move to establish trading links with China and Japan which had been so lucrative for Portugal. Unlike the Portuguese, The Dutch felt no vocation for religious evangelism, and were the only Europeans allowed to trade in Japan between 1639 and 1853. From 1641 they were confined to a very small island (Deshima) in the harbour of Nagasaki. The profitability of this trade faded after a few decades because of a Japanese ban on export of precious metals and Japanese insistence on fixing the prices at which the Dutch could sell their goods. In this trade there was no question of Dutch exploitation. In fact they were used as a conduit by Japanese eager to know about Western technology (see Appendix B).

The VOC did not succeed in dislodging the Portuguese from Macao. In the 1620s they got a base in the Pescadores and from 1624 were allowed to shift to Taiwan. In 1662 they were forced to leave and never acquired another Chinese base. From the 1640s to 1660s the Ming dynasty was in a state of collapse. The great porcelain and pottery town of Ching–te–Chen was devastated and Chinese porcelain exports were interrupted until the 1680s. This encouraged the Dutch to develop their own pottery industry in Delft to produce cheap copies of Chinese blue–and–white ware. At the same time, the Japanese developed their own pottery and porcelain industry to substitute for Chinese imports, and the Dutch also copied Japanese copies of Chinese pottery. European production of porcelain in Sèvres and Meissen started later.

The VOC operated from the 1630s in Bengal because of its rich variety of high quality textiles (cotton and silk). Here they stepped in the shoes of the Portuguese who had been expelled from Hugli by the Moghul authorities in 1632.

At first the VOC concentrated on exporting Bengali raw silk and mixed cotton–silk textiles to Japan, and opium to Indonesia. In exchange they sold Japanese copper, silver and gold in Bengal. The Japanese market declined considerably after 1680, but European demand for Bengali textiles rose very rapidly. Between 1680 and 1740, textiles from Bengal were the largest component of VOC exports to the Netherlands (see Prakash, 1998, pp. 198 and 218). Fine cottons, muslins, silks and mixed piece goods appealed to new European tastes and rising incomes, though it was more difficult to know what the market might be for these fashion items than for raw silk or opium.

Bengali textiles were also of major interest to the British and French companies from the last quarter of the seventeenth century, and their textile exports were even bigger than those of the Dutch. However, both the French (1686) and the British (1700) forbade import of printed and painted cottons in order to protect their domestic textile producers. Both countries continued to import these goods for re–export (though a large part of these were smuggled back into England). The Dutch did not protect their own textile industry, and ended up marketing a large part of French and somewhat less of the British re–exports of Indian textiles within Europe (see Table 2–19). The British greatly increased imports of white bleached cloth from Bengal for processing in England (see Rothermund, 1999).

Towards the second half of the seventeenth century, European demand for coffee grew very fast. The first London café was opened in 1652. The beverage became popular in France in the 1660s and in the Netherlands in the 1670s. The VOC began buying coffee in Mokka in Yemen at the beginning of the eighteenth century, rising from 300 tons in 1711 to 875 tons in 1720. Shrubs were taken for planting in Java and by the late 1720s, Javanese production was about 2 000 tons a year. The VOC imposed cultivation quotas on petty Javanese rulers who compelled their subjects to raise coffee. From the 1730s there was competition from Surinam where output and exports rose much faster (see Bulbeck and Associates, 1998).

A few years later there was a great surge in European demand for tea, particularly in England and the Netherlands. The Chinese had opened Canton to foreign traders in 1685. British tea imports rose from about 100 kilos in 1669 to 28 000 tons in 1760 (see Chaudhuri, 1978, p. 539). The Dutch bought most of their tea from Chinese junks trading to Batavia, though there was a direct shipment from Canton to Amsterdam in 1729. The English company were able to finance their tea purchases in Canton by selling Bengali opium and raw cotton, but the Dutch were obliged to pay in bullion (see Glamann, 1981, pp. 212–43).

The new European taste for coffee and tea was complementary to the rise of sugar consumption. Growth of these items displaced a significant part of demand for beer and gin, both in England and the Netherlands.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, the VOC ceased to be a profitable organisation. It collapsed in bankruptcy in 1795, after several decades of distributing dividends bigger than its profits.

One of the causes was the disintegration of the Moghul Empire in India and the British takeover of the governance of Bengal in 1757. After that, discrimination against Dutch operations weakened the VOC considerably. Anglo–Dutch hostilities in 1781–84 (when the two countries took opposite sides in the American War of Independence) had serious repercussions in Asia. The outbreak of the Napoleonic wars led to a complete British takeover of Dutch interests in India, Malacca, Ceylon, South Africa and temporarily in Indonesia. It also ended any significant French connection with India.

Contributory factors to the profit decline were the very high overheads for the company in hiring military and naval personnel to run what had become a territorial empire in Java and Ceylon. The officers of the VOC were not well paid and conducted an increasingly large private trade in the company’s ships. There was also a good deal of corruption in the administration of Java and Ceylon, which benefited the servants but not the shareholders of the company. Given the changing commodity structure of trade and the locus of operations, Batavia was no longer an ideal headquarters.

After 1815, Indonesia became a colony of the new Dutch kingdom. There was intensive development of tropical crop production for export. During the wartime period of British rule, there had been a policy of westernisation of the administration, property rights and land taxation. The Diponegoro revolt of 1825–30 ended this approach. Thereafter the Dutch stuck consistently to a policy of dual administration, retaining traditional rulers, law and custom as a major instrument of their rule. They also kept their trading monopoly, as most of the profits would have gone to powerful British and American traders under an open–trade regime.

In the 1830s the so–called “Cultivation System” was introduced. The Netherlands exercised its claims on indigenous income by increasing its demand for tribute — forced deliveries of crops or labour services in lieu of land taxation. From 1816 to 1914 movement and residence of the indigenous and Chinese populations were controlled by a system of pass–laws designed to maintain labour discipline and enforce ethnic apartheid.

From the 1830s, the Dutch were remarkably successful in raising the income flow from Indonesia. In the 1830–70 period, half of it went directly to the Dutch government as fiscal tribute from the cultivation system. In addition there was monopoly income from transport of export crops by the NHM shipping company owned by the Dutch King, and income from sales of monopoly franchises to dealers in opium. The government dominated production of sugar and coffee, but most of the tobacco crop was in private hands. Favoured individuals were subsidised to create sugar processing factories. There were ample opportunities for corruption in the Dutch administration, amongst the 76 local Regents and heads of the 34 000 villages of Java. In 1844 Indonesia was allocated a fictitious debt of 236 million guilders to cover the costs of liquidating the VOC’s debts and those incurred in suppressing the 1825–30 revolt.

Export prices for sugar and coffee rose after the abolition of the African slave trade in the 1830s. This ruined competitors in the Caribbean and raised costs in Brazil.

From 1848, when the Netherlands acquired a more democratic political system, there was growing criticism of exploitative practices and bureaucratic cronyism in Indonesia. These pressures, plus the opening of the Suez Canal and the development of steam shipping, led the Dutch authorities to open the colony to private enterprise and investment. By the 1890s the government share of exports had dropped to zero.

Table 2–21a provides a crude measure of the burden of colonial rule and the colonialist gain for the Netherlands for the period 1700 to 1930. The volume of exports grew very much faster after the demise of the VOC, and became a much greater share of Indonesian GDP. The proportionate gains to the Netherlands also rose greatly. Table 2–21b provides similar estimates for India, where the colonial burden and gain were relatively much smaller.

Table 2–21c provides a crude estimate of population and income levels by ethnic group in Indonesia from 1700 to 1929.

Animal Farm A Brief History of the Soviet Union, 1917-1944

Before the revolution of 1917, Russia had been an imperial autocracy since the reign of Peter the Great in the 1700s. Russia had become a great world power after the defeat of Napoleon’s army in the 1800s. During the 1800s, the desire for social and political change in Russia began to grow, with revolts and the formation of political organizations. In the early 1900s, Russia had splintered politically into two factions: the Bolsheviks, lead by Vladimir Lenin, and the Mensheviks. By 1917, Russia found itself in the midst of World War I, demoralized and facing shortages and other hardships.

In the February Revolution of 1917, Czar Nicholas II abdicated his position as leader of Russia, ending the nation’s imperial rule under the Romanov Dynasty. For more than half a year after the czar’s abdication, an ineffective provisional government ran the vast empire. During that time, Lenin returned from exile and regrouped his strength and support. Lenin saw in the army’s dissatisfaction with the provisional government an opportunity to gain control. He guided the soviets, his fellow communists, in establishing good relations with Russia’s troops. Helping Lenin were Leon Trotsky, another former exile, and Joseph Stalin. On October 24, 1917, Lenin and his collaborators launched a successful, full-scale coup against the provisional government, which came to be known as the October Revolution. They established a new government based on the tenets of communism, which included the equal distribution of wealth and the promotion of atheism and gender equality.

Lenin’s rise to power did not ensure further success or popular satisfaction immediately, although his New Economic Policy (NEP) increased agricultural production. Russia met with the Central Powers at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in 1918, losing a significant portion of its territory to other nations. Meanwhile, Russia’s former elite as well as its working and farming class were becoming dissatisfied with the new government and were garnering foreign support for their cause. In response to the public’s dissent, the leaders formed the Red Army, led by Trotsky. The Red Army launched an internal campaign of terror called the Red Terror, in which it intended to root out and kill the “internal enemy” of anti-Communism. Thousands of people, many of whom were only suspected of being anti-Communist, were slaughtered in unthinkably cruel ways. That conflict turned into the Russian Civil War, which lasted until 1921 and terrorized Russia’s citizenry. Lenin saw the Civil War through, including the creation of the Soviet Union in 1922, but died in 1924. (His embalmed body is still preserved in a mausoleum in Red Square, and it is a popular tourist attraction.) In his wake Lenin left Trotsky and Stalin, both power-hungry politicians, to battle for Russia’s leadership.

In Lenin’s absence, Trotsky’s oratorical acumen proved no match for Stalin, who defeated him easily with the help of important internal alliances. Stalin expatriated him, along with many other leaders, in the Great Purge and eventually had Trotsky assassinated in exile. For the next quarter of a century, Stalin was the leader of the Soviet Union. Determined to bring Russia out of its long-standing economic deficiency, including the Grain Crisis, and recoup the losses sustained in World War I, he abandoned NEP and launched several “Five Year Plans,” aggressive campaigns to increase the country’s productivity while bringing the economy completely under government control. The plans were successful but resulted in dissatisfaction among the citizens of the Soviet Union. In order to prevent them from rebelling, Stalin used the tactics of deception and terror. He began a series of "purges" in which he executed anyone suspected of harboring sentiments contrary to his ideas. Determined to protect himself and his government from treachery, Stalin not only increased the government’s internal espionage, carried out by the NKVD and its subsidiary, the KGB, but he turned Soviet citizens against one another. Terrified of imprisonment, torture, work in the Gulags (labor camps) and execution, people spied on and turned in their coworkers, neighbors, and even family members. In total, tens of millions of people experienced Stalin’s terror firsthand, and those who did not knew someone who had.

With the Soviet Union’s internal affairs under tight (and violent) control, Stalin focused his attention on international affairs. He and his government took Hitler’s ascension very seriously, especially considering the losses Russia suffered in World War I. For this reason, in the 1930s Stalin lent Soviet support to Spain in the Spanish Civil War, in which the country was trying to defend itself against the German and Japanese forces of fascism. (This is the war in which George Orwell fought, against fascism but also against the Soviets.) Despite Stalin’s mistrust of Adolf Hitler, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1939 and continued to trade with Hitler’s nation. When World War II broke out in September 1939 and in 1941, Germany broke the non-aggression pact and invaded the Soviet Union. World War II took a terrible toll on the Western parts of the Soviet Union. This included the nine-hundred-day Siege of Leningrad, in which 1.5 million of the city’s citizens died of cold, starvation, or bombardment by the Germans. Despite harsh battles and the loss of more than twenty million citizens, the Soviet Union managed to drive the Nazis out and continued marching westward, seizing control of Berlin in May 1945. A few months later, Animal Farm hit the bookshelves in England and recounted, allegorically, much of this history. Stalin remained in control of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953.

How China Won and Russia Lost

O n a dark November night in 1978 , 18 Chinese peasants from Xiaogang village in Anhui province secretly divided communal land to be farmed by individual families, who would keep what was left over after meeting state quotas. Such a division was illegal and highly dangerous, but the peasants felt the risks were worth it. The timing is significant for our story. The peasants took action one month before the “reform” congress of the party was announced. Thus, without fanfare, began economic reform, as spontaneous land division spread to other villages. One farmer said, “When one family’s chicken catches the pest, the whole village catches it. When one village has it, the whole county will be infected.”

Ten years later, in August of 1988 , Mikhail Gorbachev lifted his nation’s 50 -year-old prohibition against private farming, offering 50 -year leases to farm families who would subsequently work off of contracts with the state. Few accepted the offer Russian farmers were too accustomed to the dreary but steady life on the state or collective farm. Thus began reform of agriculture in Soviet Russia.

The results in each country could not have been more different. Chronically depressed Chinese agriculture began to blossom, not only for grain but for all crops. As farmers brought their crops to the city by bicycle or bus, long food lines began to dwindle and then disappear. The state grocery monopoly ended in less than one year. Soviet Russian agriculture continued to stagnate despite massive state subsidies. Citizens of a superpower again had to bear the indignity of sugar rations.

These two examples point to the proper narrative of reform in Gorbachev’s Russia and Deng Xiaoping’s China. Our narrative contradicts much received doctrine. The standard account is that China succeeded because a wise party leadership deliberately chose gradualism, retained the monopoly of the Communist Party after rebuffing democracy at Tiananmen Square, and carefully guided the process over the years. The narrative says that Russia failed because the tempestuous Gorbachev ignored the Chinese reform model, moved too quickly, and allowed the party monopoly to fall apart. This standard account is incorrect. Deng Xiaoping and his supporters, contrary to popular legend, did not agree on a reform program at the Third Plenum of the Eighth Party Congress in 1978 , which installed him in power. A Chinese reform official by the name of Bao Tong later admitted as much: “In fact, reform wasn’t discussed. Reform wasn’t listed on the agenda, nor was it mentioned in the work reports.” 1

Throughout the reform process, the Chinese Communist Party simply reacted to (and wisely did not oppose) bottom-up reform initiatives that emanated largely from the rural population. Deng Xiaoping’s famous description of Chinese reform as “fording the river by feeling for the stones” is not incorrect, but it was the Chinese people who placed the stones under his feet.

Mikhail Gorbachev became general secretary of his party in March of 1985 . By that time, he knew that the Chinese reforms were successful. His reforms, contrary to the popular narrative, closely mimicked China’s. He proposed to lease land to peasants, establish free trade zones, promote small cooperative businesses, and set up joint ventures. The difference was that Gorbachev imposed these changes from above, on an urban economy in which virtually all citizens worked for the state. Gorbachev’s reforms either were ignored or they were enacted with perverse consequences. Bottom-up reforms worked in China top-down reforms failed in Russia.

Both countries began serious reform after the passing of a leader (or leadership) that abhorred reform. Deng Xiaoping and his allies succeeded Mao in 1978 after a brief power struggle with hardliners. Gorbachev succeeded the initial beneficiaries of Stalin’s purges of the 1930 s, who rose quickly as young men to replace those who were executed. The forgettable Konstantin Chernenko was the last in line there was no choice but to turn to a relative newcomer when he died. For Gorbachev, the horrors of the Stalin era were in the distant past. For Deng Xiaoping and his supporters, the excesses of Mao — the starvation of the Great Leap and the “reeducations” of the Cultural Revolution — were recent and personal experiences. Whereas Stalin had physically annihilated independent-minded party officials, Mao permitted them to survive, subsequently to take over after he was gone. Gorbachev worked his way up the party ladder as a typical apparatchik although touted as a reformer, he had few reform ideas. His Politburo and Central Committee comrades had no real stomach for reform. Deng Xiaoping also had not worked out a reform program, but he knew enough not to oppose reforms that work (“I don’t care if it is a black or yellow cat as long as it catches mice”).

Real reforms, whether dictated from the top or bubbling up from below, require a reform constituency. In the Chinese case, a large percentage of the population was recovering from the catastrophes of the Mao years. Rural dwellers, in particular, had witnessed the chaos of the Great Leap and had seen their parents and children die from starvation during the 1958–61 famine. They learned they had to take care of themselves. The urban elite had been ripped from the cities to a life of work and reeducation in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, and a whole generation had been deprived of schooling. In the Russian case, the last famine lay three decades in the past. After the war, few people were executed for political crimes (political dissent became instead a mental disorder) the Gulag had been gradually dismantled after Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech of 1956 . All lived under the motto, “We pretend to work and you pretend to pay.” 2 Surveys show that Russians were basically content with the system, comfortable in the bosom of their state enterprise or state farm. 3 China had a reform constituency Russia did not. Gorbachev had few reform-minded aides. He listened to the bad advice of his economists. He was opposed by an entrenched bureaucracy but supported by enterprise managers eager to cash in on ill-conceived reform.

B oth chinese and Soviet Russian agriculture were collectivized by force. In Russia, the forced collectivization and dekulakization campaigns of 1929–31 set off a civil war in the countryside that was brutally repressed. The more prosperous farm families were either imprisoned or exiled, leaving behind dispirited peasants herded into collective farms strictly controlled by rural political bureaus and machine tractor stations. Agriculture had to dance to Moscow’s tune. In China, the land was first taken away from land owners between 1950 and 1953 following rural purges that cost between 2 million and 5 million lives. The land reform distributed plots to farmers for use but not ownership, despite resistance of the peasantry. Between 1950 and 1951 alone, 712,000 people were executed, 1,290,000 imprisoned, and 1,200,000 sent to labor camps. 4

Despite observing the catastrophe of Russian collectivization, Mao forced his peasants into huge communes starting in 1958 . All property, sometimes including furniture and even knives and forks, became communal. In both cases, collective farms had to deliver farm products to the state at the very low prices it dictated. They had to obey harebrained directives from Moscow or Beijing, such as massive switching to corn, planting grain on land suited for fruits, or halting the production of “decadent” tea. Although intermittent efforts were made to suppress private plots in both countries, private plots kept farm families alive and provided some meat and dairy products, fruits and vegetables, to the cities, which were peddled by peasants on street corners.

Both Deng Xiaoping and Gorbachev inherited nonproductive collective agricultures. Soviet Russia’s farm sector had sunk to such depths that a traditional grain exporter was now importing grain from Australia and America. By Gorbachev’s time, the farm population had shrunk to a quarter of its former size only older workers remained, working perfunctorily on state land or tending their private plots. They had long been converted into wage workers and received pensions and socialized medical care, albeit of a low quality. In China, rural dwellers accounted for 80 percent of the population compared to Russian farmers they were young and vibrant. They lived without the social guarantees of Russian farmers. In China, only the young had not experienced private agriculture. Small private plots had existed in China for 2,000 years. An elderly farmer in Jingshan village succinctly captured this historical memory: “Family farming is as natural as human desire to eat, to have sex, and to love grandchildren. We loved family farming because it gave us some freedom. The leaders thought they knew better how to live our lives. But it is our lives, isn’t it?” 5 In Russia, few farm dwellers could even remember the last experiment with private agriculture in the 1920 s.

The deal that Gorbachev offered his farmers in 1988 was that they could have their own plots of land with 50 -year leases from the state. His offer was a “contracting system” whereby land leasers would deliver quotas to the state but could keep what was left over. He had virtually no takers. Russian farmers were embedded in state agriculture, from which they could “take” seed, fertilizer, and tools under the principle “they belong to everyone and hence to no one.” Chinese farmers were not made such a generous offer. Instead they began to quietly distribute the land, with each family delivering production for the state quota. Gorbachev called for decollectivization from above China’s farmers decollectivized spontaneously from below. They created their own “contract responsibility system,” initially at risk of severe punishment. There were no leaders there were no face-to-face confrontations. It just happened. As agricultural production soared, Deng Xiaoping and his party realized they could not resist and could take advantage of something that was working. By 1982 , more than 90 percent of rural dwellers were engaged in the household production system. Even after Deng Xiaoping officially supported grassroots rural reform, he did not give farmers long-term commitments, as did Gorbachev. Farmers were given one- to three-year contracts in 1982 . It was only in 2003 that the state gave long-term leases in its Rural Land Contracting Law.

T he spontaneous creation of an agricultural contract system meant new supplies of agricultural products that needed to make their way to a market that still had to be created. Again Russia’s and China’s paths diverged in the reform of trade.

At the time Deng Xiaoping and Gorbachev came to power, domestic trade was dominated by state trading networks. Russia had largely outgrown rationing, although Russians had to stand in line for specific products, particularly alcohol. There existed a small “nonstate” trade network. Farmers were allowed to sell products from their private plots, and a thriving “second economy” provided goods and services that the planned economy did not. Because they operated in the shadows, it is difficult to compare respective magnitudes, but we do know that Russia’s shadow economy was well-developed. If Russian citizens wanted an experienced doctor, a car repaired, or color television, they turned to the black market. China was even more lacking in markets. Consumers received coupons for different types of goods and stood in long lines for each rationed product. In Wuhan, Hubei Province (where one of us lived for 30 years), there were more than 80 types of ration coupons for items like soap, cooking oil, meat, eggs, fish, tofu, grain, watches, bikes, furniture, and matches. At least in Russia, consumers could buy without coupons the price was standing in line or getting scarce goods through “connections.”

Gorbachev, dissatisfied with the status quo, initiated reforms to expand markets and private trade. His reform failed. Deng Xiaoping was presented with an unsanctioned market by Chinese traders as a fait accompli. All he had to do was legalize it after its success was obvious. With millions of farmers selling, competition drove prices down to reasonable levels for urban consumers.

Gorbachev saw Russia’s shadow economy as an asset he could build upon. His May 1987 Law on Cooperatives was designed to legalize many activities that had been illegal. The new cooperatives could use property and own equipment, and they could sell at market prices the main restriction was that they could not employ hired labor. The first “New Russian” wealth was, in fact, a product of the cooperatives.

Gorbachev hoped that the cooperatives would be the source of entrepreneurship. Following the May 1987 decree, cooperatives formed right and left, many within state enterprises, others under the auspices of social organizations. The cooperative law indeed brought the shadow economy out into the open. Its unanticipated consequence, however, was that cooperators added little to consumer welfare. Instead, they took advantage of loopholes offered by the planned economy to redistribute profits from the state sector into their own pockets. Cooperatives were formed within state enterprises under the guise of “small business” they commandeered materials from state enterprises at low prices and then sold the output at high “cooperative” prices. They used influence to buy and then resell scarce foreign goods by bribing trade officials. A typical cooperator was a former kgb officer (known to one of us), who used his connections to buy personal computers at low prices from a state trading company and then resold them to consumers, all under the “roof” of the Academy of Sciences. He went on to become a respected deputy in parliament. Like this former kgb officer, the New Russians, spawned by cooperative laws, provided Russians with their first bitter taste of “capitalism,” which Russians subsequently associated with illicit gains (and still do to this day).

Another stark contrast should be emphasized: The Russian “entrepreneurs” of the cooperative movement were primarily city dwellers. Russian farmers, who rejected Gorbachev’s agricultural reforms, were not players. They did not produce goods that needed to be transported and marketed. China’s first entrepreneurs hailed primarily from the countryside, and they got their start by marketing farm products in the cities.

Private trade developed in China at the grassroots level, emerging from rural regions and prospering because it filled a vital need. The rural contract responsibility system created huge agricultural surpluses which had to be marketed outside the state system. Farm products had to be moved over long distances, either directly or through intermediaries — in violation of laws and without contracts that could be enforced in courts. A herculean task. But it was done by the tens and then hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs pushing the frontier of what was allowed. In effect, Chinese farmer-trader-entrepreneurs had to create completely new institutions for transporting and selling agricultural products. Once in place, they could be used to do the same for other goods and services. These initial entrepreneurs were not beneficiaries of state reform. Instead, they had to find ways to destroy socialist institutional barriers and create markets. The Chinese entrepreneur had to juggle profits and security. For most, a mistake meant confiscation, a jail sentence, or worse. 6 The entrepreneur, operating in the grey area of legality, had no access to state capital. The state banks refused to serve any private businesses until June of 1988 and even then with tight restrictions.

China’s early trader-entrepreneurs had to first overcome the problem of distance between producers and consumers. Since the late 1940 s, the state regarded long-distance trade as a speculative, capitalist activity and branded those involved as criminals. In the early 1960 s, such traders were labeled as “bad elements.” Some lost their jobs or were sent to labor camps while others were put on neighborhood watch lists to be supervised closely. Even in the late 1970 s and early 1980 s, the sight of policemen chasing and confiscating a rural peddler’s goods was common. 7 One Chinese entrepreneur compared his early business ventures to an untrained acrobat walking a tightrope: “I was excited about the huge market opportunities while scared to death of returning to a prison cell. I lived a life of constant sweat, sleepless nights, and thumping heartbeats.” 8 Throughout the early 1980 s, farmers in north Jiangsu packed their bikes with chickens, ducks, and other fowl, crossed the Yangzi River, and shipped their products by rail to urban centers in the Yangzi basin. “A million roosters cross the mighty Yangzi” was the expression of the day. 9 By 1983 , the majority of consumers in major cities purchased their products in free markets rather than in government stores. Within one year (between 1979 and 1980 ), most state vegetable markets, except the highly subsidized Beijing and Shanghai markets, were out of business.

The creation of a vast market in farm products was only the start. Once one institution was created, others had to follow. Private traders operated without permission to travel and could not stay in state-run hotels. Thus, entrepreneurs developed a network of private hotels. Remarkable stories of hardy entrepreneurs providing goods and services not available from the state economy abound: A rural minority woman from Hunan began her business by buying shoes in major cities and selling them in her hometown, Baojing. She had to leave her three children behind during her one- or two-month journeys. She lived frugally and invested in building new houses. When returning from her mountain sales trips, she bought herbs, mushrooms and other local goods and resold them in county markets. After a decade of hard work and helping her children get college degrees, she settled down and collected rent every month from the six houses she had built over the years. She is one of the nouveau riche in her hometown.

Most of China’s early entrepreneurs had farming backgrounds or, at a minimum, were from farm families. The richest Chinese citizen in 2007 was the daughter of a poor farmer from the southern province of Guangdong, whose family became wealthy after acquiring large tracts of land and distressed assets in the countryside, where there was no real estate business, in the early 1990 s. In the mid- 1990 s, her father developed affordable townhouses and holiday homes for China’s growing middle class. 10 Other rural entrepreneurs did not make their way into a top ten list, but their success stories are equally striking. After their release from the communes in the early 1980 s, rural entrepreneurs left their villages to establish restaurants, laundries, and small manufacturing businesses in major cities. Friends and relatives followed, as explained by a Wenzhou entrepreneur: “My neighbor set up a small laundry shop in Shanghai and made some money. My brothers and I borrowed 80,000 Yuan from relatives and friends, plus our 21,000 Yuan in family savings. When we went to Shanghai in 1995 , we found out that there were already too many shops of this kind. This is why we turned to dry cleaning.” Like entrepreneurs elsewhere, Chinese private entrepreneurs set up their businesses through the three Fs (friends, family, and fools).

Corruption served as an unexpected weapon of entrepreneurs, without which they could not have navigated the narrow channel separating success from prison. Entrepreneurs had to “wear a red hat” (register a family business as a part of a formal legal organization), set up their businesses as sham collective enterprises, or find “big shots” or “mothers-in-law” to serve as patrons to give them protection. Without such cover, they could not issue receipts, keep books, pay taxes, write contracts, or open bank accounts. Many rural private businesses could not have survived the tax burden on private companies without such devices. Two farmers in a village of Fujian Province set up a packaging factory. Everyone in the village knew that the factory belonged to them but the factory was officially a village collective. By using the collective’s name, the private village factory paid lower taxes and even received low-interest loans. After paying 5,000 Yuan in “management fees” to the village head and another 1,000 to the township government, the village factory went about its business unhampered.

The success of China’s entrepreneurs in creating the institutions of private markets is told by some remarkable statistics. In 1978 , state enterprises generated about 8 0 percent of China’s gdp , while the rural commune produced the other 20 percent. 11 There were no private businesses. By 1997 , there were 961,000 private enterprises and 28.5 million small family private firms. By 2002 , the nonstate sector’s share exceeded two-thirds of gdp , with the share produced by truly private companies comprising more than half. By 2004 , there were more than three million private companies employing more than 47 million workers. 12 Before 1980 , entrepreneurial activity in China was illegal. Today, there are over 40 million entrepreneurs, whose businesses employ over 200 million and generate two-thirds of industrial output. The state had no choice but to accept the reality of burgeoning farmers’ markets and private trade. The improvement in product quality and the disappearance of long food lines convinced urban residents, as well as government leaders, of the power of grassroots entrepreneurial activities. The state could not curtail such activities without inflaming the entire populace, although it periodically tried. In 1988 , the government made it theoretically legal to own private businesses but in practice imposed strict controls over private urban markets, including steep fees to regulate them.

Private business originated in agriculture, spread to the cities, and then returned to the countryside as rural-based industry. Many large private manufacturing firms developed in predominantly agricultural provinces (Zhejiang, Shandong, Guangdong, Hunan, and Sichuan). China’s largest agribusiness, the Hoep Group, was founded by the Liu brothers, who left the city to found their company in a rural part of Sichuan province. Wang Guoduan, a rural entrepreneur from southern Guangdong province, built the largest refrigerator maker, Kelon Group Huanyuan, China’s largest air conditioner maker, is based in the agricultural province of Hunan. China’s first automobile exports will likely come “from the agricultural hinterland of Anhui province, where Chery is located.” 13 Rural Wenzhou entrepreneurs provide capital and consumer goods to the cities, and their private capital financed its airports and highways.

L et us now turn to the two countries’ quite different experiences with respect to international trade. Both China and Russia began from the same starting point. Each had a strict system of centralized controls exercised by a foreign trade monopoly. Both Mao and Stalin believed in self-reliance and were reluctant to depend on other countries. Soviet Russia had carved out a trading bloc of communist states in Eastern Europe, which limited reliance on the West. Both countries missed out on the huge postwar expansion of trade as they turned inward.

China’s success in attracting foreign capital and know-how and selling manufactured products in foreign markets is well documented, and the steady hand of Deng Xiaoping and his successors in promoting Chinese globalization cannot be denied. Opening an economy to world markets is not something that can be done from below. China’s leaders were not without a model. They could not but notice the remarkable transformations of the nearby Four Tigers of Southeast Asia. China’s entry into the global marketplace dates to 1980 , when the first free trade zones were established, bordering Hong Kong territory. The rest is history. In 1978 , China’s trade accounted for less than 1 percent of the world economy. China is now the world’s third-largest trading nation with 6 percent of world trade. China’s economy is more dependent on trade than even Japan’s and South Korea’s.

Gorbachev could not help but be impressed by China’s successes in international markets. The globalization of the Russian economy was to serve as a centerpiece of his reform program. Gorbachev’s January 1987 joint venture law (accompanied by proposals for free trade zones) mimicked the Chinese laws of a few years earlier and for good reason. By the time he took office, China was attracting the largest amount of foreign direct investment of any emerging market country. Gorbachev hoped that opening Russia would make reform painless. In his first years in office, he anticipated an “acceleration” of output based upon the utilization of new technologies largely acquired from Western partners. 14

Both China and Russia had a common communist past and both had abundant human resources. Russia was initially better off because of its trained scientists and engineers. Gorbachev threw open the doors to Russia but no one came, contrary to the Chinese experience. This puzzle is easily explained, but it makes the Chinese success even more intriguing.

Why did Russia fail in attracting foreign direct investment? Western investors had to cast a dubious eye on investments in Russia. Only a few Russians had experience in world markets, and they had all worked for the foreign trade monopoly. There was no one who could credibly explain to foreign business what would happen if contracts were violated, how investments could be secured in the absence of private property laws, or how these investments were to be integrated into what was still a planned economy. Western concerns were being asked to make huge infrastructure investments in energy in the absence of any law on subsoil resources. There was simply no credible intermediary to stand between Russia’s desire for foreign investment and the willingness of the West to risk its capital in Russia.

Russia lacked a Russian Diaspora. A few Russians had emigrated to the United States and Israel. But China had a “Greater China” that numbered in the millions of Chinese in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Southeast Asia, and North America. These “Greater Chinese,” especially in Hong Kong and Taiwan, still had roots on the mainland. They had demonstrated their business acumen, and they understood the potential of a low-wage country with abundant human resources strategically situated in the heart of booming Southeast Asia. These Greater Chinese intermediaries could explain to investors how to invest and with whom. Who could be trusted? Who could not? Which government officials are reliable? Equally important, these intermediaries were successful and had business and property outside of China that could be used as collateral for doubting foreign investors.

The largest number of overseas Chinese, most of whom were refugees from China, resided in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and China’s first lesson in global exchange was from nearby Hong Kong. Before communist rule, the inhabitants of the capital of Guangdong (adjacent to Hong Kong), were considered city slickers, while Hong Kong was full of country bumpkins. As Hong Kong surged, several million Guangdongese escaped to Hong Kong, where they participated in its economic miracle. Friends and families lined up in long queues in Guangzhou to receive hand-me-downs from their Hong Kong friends and relatives. Young urban women wanted to marry only men with overseas family relations. 15 When the Chinese government first set up Special Economic Zones in Shenzhen (near Hong Kong), Zhuhai (near Macau), Shantou (the hometown of Hong Kong refugees), and Xiemen (near Taiwan), the Chinese borrowed their new rules and regulations directly from Hong Kong. Guangdong entrepreneurs copied the Hong Kong model of “Front Shop, Back Factory,” while others set up joint factories together with Hong Kong small business owners. Using family and cultural ties, Hong Kong cousins were able to overcome red tape. Hong Kong business tycoon Gordon Wu (a Princeton graduate) built the first toll expressway linking Guangzhou to Hong Kong by promising to cede it to the Chinese government after 15 years. Hong Kong, with the largest container port in Asia, provided both hard and soft infrastructure for China. It was through Hong Kong that Chinese goods first reached global markets. Taiwanese investors began to flood into China in the early 1990 s, circumventing a ban on business with China by going through Hong Kong. They used China for manufacturing bases to contend with increasing world competition. By 2004 , Taiwanese investment comprised close to three percent of China’s gdp . In 2001 , the Chinese state itself took a giant step towards further globalization by becoming a member of the World Trade Organization ( wto ). wto membership gave China incentives to be a responsible global trade partner. 16

G orbachev inherited an economy in which virtually the entire citizenry worked for the state. State-owned enterprises ( soe s) dominated industry, trade, and even agriculture. The notorious collective farms had been de facto converted to state farms. In China, the majority of citizens did not work for the state when Deng Xiaoping took over. They worked instead for collective farms, which had to meet delivery quotas. If things went bad, there was no state bailout. They were on their own. In Soviet Russia, proposals for reforming soe s had been floated since the early 1960 s. In Mao’s China, the “word ‘reform’ wasn’t even in the vocabulary of state leaders.” 17 Despite these different backgrounds, Gorbachev and Deng Xiaoping devised very similar reforms of soe s with similarly poor results. Gorbachev incorporated earlier reform ideas in his Law on Enterprises of July 1987 . Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang initiated an urban contract responsibility in 1984 based on the success of rural reform, as Deng Xiaoping decided “to apply the rural experience to urban economic system reforms.” 18

In both countries, soe s formed the core of the planned “commanding heights” of heavy industry, defense, transportation, and finance. They could not be turned over to private owners without destroying both the planning system and the socialist foundation of society. Insofar as soe production was integrated into a national plan, they could not be allowed to fail. Instead, they operated under “soft budgets” under which their losses were automatically covered. They were managed by powerful ministries, regional officials, and party leaders they employed millions of relatively pampered workers who depended upon them for wages and benefits. All of these formed a powerful interest group against meaningful reform, or to turn reform perversely in their favor. Gorbachev had no choice but to address the problem of soe s from day one of his reforms. China’s leaders could afford to postpone dealing with their soe s.

In both cases, the remedy applied was to reduce the tutelage over soe s, give them more decision-making authority, and provide incentives to operate their enterprises more efficiently. In spite of their different settings and backgrounds, both reforms did the same things: soe s were still required to deliver planned outputs to the planning system but they could keep above-plan output, which they could sell at higher prices. Managers and employees could retain more profits for bonuses and investment. They could increasingly buy inputs and sell outputs through “direct links” with other soe s. In both cases, planners fixed the prices of goods that went through the planning system, which were exchanged among soe s. Thus, the same product (say, steel) could be bought and sold at two or more prices, the lowest one being the state official price.

Unwittingly, both Russia’s and China’s soe reforms created a “perfect rent generating machine.” 19 In both countries, managers set up small businesses and cooperatives within their factories, which they used to strip state assets. They diverted production from the planned to the cooperative sector where they could sell at higher prices. Easy profits were made by buying inputs (often from oneself) at fixed state prices, diverting them to cooperative production, and then selling at much higher prices.

The remedy to such blatant rent-seeking and corruption in both countries was a tough bankruptcy law. Gorbachev’s 1987 enterprise law actually required soe s to cover their costs there were to be no bailouts, supposedly. But there were no bankruptcies. Unprofitable state enterprises argued that closing them would put restive workers on the streets and would deprive the state of essential production. Bailouts continued unabated. In 1986 , the Chinese government under Zhao Zhiyang and Deng Xiaoping introduced a bankruptcy law, which mobilized vested interests to remove reform-minded leaders like Hu Yaobang and Zhao Zhiyang (both party secretaries). When the state again started to force bankruptcies in 1998 and 1999 , local government officials sold assets (mostly for real estate) to rapacious ex-officials and politically linked private companies for their own use.

The failure of the enterprise law produced catastrophic results in Russia. Planned production collapsed, soe s refused to supply each other, and the planned economy ceased to function for all practical purposes. 20 Unlike in China, where hardliners still had the power to undermine reform, Gorbachev retained the power to push his reform through. He even went so far as to break up the party bureaus that oversaw the economy, prompting an abortive coup by hardliners. In December of 1991 , the ussr split up into 15 separate republics that began their own independent reforms.

China’s soe s continued to operate inefficiently and corruptly, but they did not cause China’s economy to collapse as they did Russia’s. Technically insolvent soe s continue to be bailed out. Although the state sector currently accounts for a third of gdp , more than 70 percent of state bank loans go to soe s. Despite their decreasing share of the economy, soe s continue to control most natural resources, including land, mineral deposits, forest, and water resources. They are a major source of corruption. According to one estimate, rent seeking and official profiteering take between 20 and 30 percent of China’s gdp . 21

How can China thrive with such inefficient and corrupt soe s? China’s fabled growth is the combination of the high growth of agriculture, private business, and international companies with the slower growth of the state sector. Moreover, China’s soe s are probably not as inefficient. In Russia, there were no benchmarks for soe s. In China, soe s coexist with joint ventures and foreign banks, and they face competition from private businesses encroaching on their markets. Joint ventures provide yardsticks to measure soe performance. In 2006 , labor productivity in foreign-invested enterprise was nine times that of other companies (primarily soe s). 22

The strength of the rest of the economy has given China’s leadership breathing room to experiment with remedies, such as restructuring SOEs into conglomerates (something Gorbachev tried without success), setting up shareholding companies, and creating stock markets in Shenzhen and Shanghai to raise capital for key state factories. The soe problem is also solving itself through attrition. The number of soe s fell from 118,000 in 1995 to 27,477 in 2005 . 23 Since 1996 , soe employment declined by 44 million jobs, more than half of which were in manufacturing. Part of this attrition is simply due to corruption as managers “spontaneously privatized” soe s by diverting their assets into their own pockets.

C hina and russia in the 1980 s offer a unique case study in why some reforms work and others do not. The contrast refutes the notion that a strong, perhaps totalitarian state, is required for successful reform. In the Russian case, a one-party state attempted to impose reform from above and failed. In China, a one-party state opened the economy but resisted grassroots reforms, which it grudgingly accepted after their success could no longer be denied. For decades, a small group of Russian liberals lobbied in vain for reform. They finally got their chance when a reform-minded party leader was elected, but there was no real constituency for reform. In China, there was a massive grassroots constituency which clearly understood reform’s potential benefits. They acted quietly on their own, according to the Chinese saying, “Do more but say less do everything but say nothing.” The Chinese rural population, as outsiders, had nothing to lose. With more than 80 percent of Chinese people pushing for change, reform could not help but penetrate the social and economic psychology of the Chinese mind.

Bottom-up reform cannot be resisted because it requires no negotiations, avoids confrontations, and it spreads like an unstoppable plague. Top-down reform can be killed easily by ridding the leadership of reformers or by high-level sabotage. Chinese-style reform was made possible by special circumstances — the tradition of small private agriculture and trading, the recent catastrophes and purges, and China’s backwardness as an agricultural economy. If Chinese leaders had faced the same circumstances as Gorbachev, they would have failed as miserably. Gorbachev had to confront the insoluble problems of large state industrial enterprises the Chinese could afford to wait and watch them shrink in relative size.

Each country’s present is affected by its past. In both cases, their initial reforms began more than a quarter century ago. China’s leaders subsequently did not change course: Each new party leader honored the policies of his predecessor. In Russia, the Soviet Communist Party was disbanded. There was a burst of democracy and market economy under Yeltsin, followed by a retreat on both fronts under Putin. Russia is now ruled by a duumvirate, one of whom has a kgb background and who reinstated a form of totalitarian rule.

The paths of China and Russia continue to diverge: China’s communist leaders watch the state-controlled commanding heights shrink. China’s entrepreneurs have built, against all odds, private manufacturing. Large state companies cannot compete against private domestic or foreign companies. They are kept alive by state subsidies and preferences, but there may come a day when this is no longer the case. Russia’s corporate giants are direct descendants from Soviet enterprises none have been built from the ground up. They were privatized to urban, politically connected insiders under Yeltsin. Most stripped assets, but some began to create shareholder value after then-President Vladimir Putin promised them secure property rights. In a fateful reversal, Putin concluded that the commanding heights belonged to the state, and Russia’s large companies were renationalized. Those that remain in private hands do so with the understanding that they serve state interests, not those of shareholders.

Each country seems to have learned the wrong lesson from the other — China that political reform will destroy the Communist Party and Russia that only a strong authoritarian leader can make reform succeed. China’s ruling party continues to resist political change. Putin and Medvedev continue to strengthen authoritarian control.

Both Russia’s and China’s histories reveal that politically-operated and state-owned enterprises cannot compete. Russia’s current leaders are compounding their problems as they take control of more and more of the industrial economy. These new Russian soe s face little or no competition. Russia’s new leaders have driven out foreign ventures, and private entrepreneurs would face physical danger if they encroached on their markets. It’s likely that Russia’s giants — Gazprom, Lukoil, Rosneft, and the like — will become even more inefficient and operate for political rather than economic gain.

China’s leaders face an interesting dilemma, the resolution of which will affect their future. Starting in 2001 , the Communist party began to co-opt business leaders into the party-state network. As members of the party-state elite, China’s entrepreneurs gained the opportunity to earn profits by using connections rather than entrepreneurship. In 2007 , the party and state passed China’s first property law, which legalized private property. How this law will be enforced remains to be seen, but it represents a key step towards creating a rule of law in place of political arbitrariness. China’s entrepreneurs face a choice: Will they compete as entrepreneurs in the even playing field of a rule of law, or will they become like party apparatchiks, using their party status to gain “unearned” profits? If they choose the latter, they will kill the competitive goose that lays the golden eggs. The result could be a China that falls into a stagnant oligarchy like that of Russia. Napoleon once said, “Let China sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” It depends which China will awake — a nation of entrepreneurs or oligarchic party officials.

Paul Gregory is the Cullen Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Houston and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Kate Zhou is Professor of Chinese Political Economy and Comparative Politics at the University of Hawaii. She is the author of How the Farmers Changed China (Westview, 1996) and China’s Long March to Freedom, Grassroots Modernization (Transaction, 2009).

1 Bao Tong, “A Pivotal Moment for China,” Radio Free America’s Mandarin Service (December 12 , 2008 ), available at http://newsblaze.com/story/20090106100021zzzz.nb/topstory.html.

2 Mikhail Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (Harper and Row, 1987 ), 19 .

3 Michael Ellman and Vladimir Kontorovich, The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders’ History (M.E. Sharpe, 1998 ), xxi–xxiv.

4 Xinwen wubao, “The New China’s Oppression Campaign against Counter-reactionaries,” China.com ( 2006 ).

5 Kate Zhou, interview with Chu Bo, farmer in Tongxi village (February 1986 ).

6 Keming Yang, “Double entrepreneurship in China’s economic reform: An analytical framework,” Journal of Political and Military Sociology (Summer 2002 ) Douglas North, Institutions, Institutional Change, and Economic Performance (Cambridge University Press, 1990 ).

7 The struggle between urban police and street vendors was common in major cities. On many occasions, one of the authors personally witnessed police chasing and then beating street vendors in the early 1980 s in Wuhan and Beijing ( 1983 to 1984 ).

8 Kate Zhou, interview with Mu in Beijing (July 1997 ).

9 Kate Zhou, How the Farmers Changed China: Power of the People (Westview Press, 1996 ).

10 Robin Kwong, “China’s billionaires begin to add up,” Financial Times (October 22, 2007 ).

11 Guojia Tongjiju. Zhongguo tongji nianjian 1987 [Statistical Yearbook of China] (Zhongguo tongji chubanshe, 1988 ).

12 “Private enterprises expanding quickly,” People’s Daily Online (February 04 , 2005 ).

13 Yasheng Huang, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics (Cambridge University Press, July 2008 ).

14 Gorbachev, Perestroika , 19 .

15 Kate Zhou, interview with Professor Ouyang in Guangzhou, (August 5, 1986 ).

16 Nicolas Lardy, “China Enters the World Trade Organization,” Integrating China into the Global Economy ( 2002 ), 2 .

17 Bao Tong, “A Pivotal Moment for China.”

18 Deng Xiaoping, “To Speed up Reforms,” Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping (People’s Press, 1988 ), 1444 .

19 Anders Aslund, Russia’s Capitalist Revolution: Why Market Reform Succeeded and Democracy Failed (Peterson Institute for International Affairs, 2007 ), 58 .

20 Paul Gregory, “Bureaucrats, Managers and Perestroika: The First Five Years. Results of Surveys of Soviet Managers and Officials,” in The Soviet Economy Under Gorbachev ( nato , 1991 ), 188–202 .

21 Wu Jinglian, “shichanghua congnanlai? Daonanqu?” [“Whither the Reform of Market?”] (September 12, 2008 ).

22 John Whalley and Xian Xin, “China’s fdi and Non- fdi Economies and the Sustainability of Future High Chinese Growth” (National Bureau of Economics, May 2006 ) Matt Nesvisky, “Will Super-High Chinese Growth Continue?” NBER Digest (November 14, 2006 ).

23 Wayne M. Morrison, “China’s Economic Conditions,” Congressional Research Service Report to Congress (May 13, 2008 ).

Agriculture, and condition of the peasants

  • (1) private property (274,685,426 acres)
  • (2) lands granted by the government to the peasants or nadiel'nyja zemli (374,672,484 acres)
  • (3) lands belonging to the treasury, the churches, monasteries, cities, and institutions (417,661,685).

A comparison of these statistics with those of 1877 shows that in 1905 the lands owned by the nobles had diminished in area by 53,851,008 acres, and those of foreign subjects by 341,679 acres. On the other hand the landed property of the peasants had increased by 20,051,428 acres, and that of the other social classes had increased proportionately. In Siberia all the land, except the southern part of the Government of Tomsk which belongs to the imperial family, is the property of the Government, for as yet only a small portion has been granted to public and private institutions.

The state lands of European Russia are distributed very irregularly. In the Governments of Archangel, Olonetz, and Vologda, the State owns from 83 to 90 per cent of the land in the region of Tchernozom, 5 per cent, and in the Governments of Pultowa, Bessarabia, and in Esthonia less than 1 per cent. The lands granted to the peasants occupy more than half of the Governments of Orenburg, Vyatka, Ufa, Kazan, Penza, Voronezh, Samara, the Province of the Don, Vladimir, Ryazan, Kursk, Moscow, Kaluga, Kharkoff, Tchernigoff, and Pultowa. Of the lands that are private property, 52 per cent belong to the nobility, 24 per cent to the peasants, 16 per cent to the merchants, and the remainder is divided among other classes. The possessions of the nobility are chiefly in the Baltic region, Lithuania, and the Governments of Minsk, Perm, Podolia, and Kieff. In the period between 1860 and 1905 the rural property of the nobility, which had reached 213,300,000 acres, was reduced to 143,100,000 acres. The great landowners, possessing more than 2700 acres each, are chiefly in the eastern governments and in those of the Baltic. The arable lands of the Kingdom of Poland occupy an area of 30,312,168 acres of which 44.56 per cent belong to private owners, 45.58 per cent to the peasants through government concessions, 4.02 per cent to the cities, and 5.84 per cent to the churches and other institutions. The land belonging to the churches and monasteries in the whole of European Russia, including Poland, is estimated at 0.6 per cent of all the arable land of that division of the empire.

There are 591,788 rural villages in European Russia, with a total population of 81,050,300, of whom 84.5 per cent are peasants. According to statistics, 38.8 per cent of the total surface is forest 26.2 per cent is arabic land 19.1 per cent is land not available for cultivation and 15.9 per cent is prairies and pasture lands. The lands unavailable for cultivation are the salt steppes, the marshes, and the tundras. In Finland these lands occupy 35.6 per cent of the country, and the proportion is still greater in Siberia and Turkestan, where the arable land is only 2 per cent.

The "extensive" and the "intensive" systems of cultivation are variously applied in Russia, according to the region. In the governments of Northern Russia (Archangel, Olonetz, Vologda, Novgorod, and in parts of Yaroslaff, Kostroma, Vyatka, and Perm) the system called podsietchnaja obtains, consisting in stripping and uprooting the forests, planting wheat on their sites for intervals of from three to nine years, and then allowing the forests to grow up again when the fertility of the soil has been exhausted. In the Governments of Kherson, Yekaterinoslaff, Taurida, Stavropol, Orenburg, the Province of the Urals, and the Province of the Don Cossacks is practised the method called zalezhnaia (Fr. jachère). This consists in cultivating the land while its productive power endures then it is transformed into pasture, and its cultivation is not resumed for an interval of ten, twelve, or fifteen years, as occasion may require. The intensive method of agriculture obtains in the central governments of Russia, in the zone of Tchernozom, and in other governments. A field is divided into three sections in the first, winter grain (rye, corn) is sown in the second, a crop of summer grain is put in (wheat, barley, oats) and in the third, grass for pasture is allowed to grow each year the crop of each section is changed for one of the other two, thus allowing each section to rest once in three years. In the regions of the Vistula and the Baltic and in the south-western part of Finland the intensive system of agriculture obtains no portion of the land remains untilled, but the peasants sow seed and plant vegetables in alternate years, so as not to exhaust the productiveness of the soil. In several regions, especially in the Caucasus, in Daghestan, Transcaucasia, and Turkestan, a remedy is found for the aridity of the soil in irrigation by means of canals. In other regions of a marshy character the work of draining the swamps is carried on, at times by the Government, and at times by private parties. In Podlachia alone, from 1874 to 1892, there were reclaimed 6,210,000 acres of swamp lands. The same kind of work was accomplished in Siberia.

Russia is a great cereal-producing country. According to the statistics of 1908, in 73 governments (63 in Russian Europe, 1 in Transcaucasia, 4 in Siberia, and 5 in Central Asia), out of 327,642,983 acres of land, 56.2 per cent were devoted to the culture of cereals, 3.2 per cent to the culture of the potato, 13.9 per cent to the oat crop, and 26.7 per cent to artificial meadow lands. In 1908 the grain crop amounted to 48,000,000 tons the potato crop yielded 29,000,000 tons oats, 13,000,000 tons, and hay from artificial meadows, 47,000,000 tons. The governments that are the most productive of cereals are those of Bessarabia, Kherson, Taurida, Yekaterinoslaff, and the Province of the Don Cossacks. As a cereal-producing country, Russia is the second in the world, the United States being the first. The development of potato culture, which was introduced into Russia in 1767, is notable. The grain that Russia produces is not only sufficient to supply the home market, but also constitutes one of the chief exports. The amount of it that is exported amounts on an average to 15,000,000 tons a year. It should be noticed, however, that in proportion to the area of the empire, the grain production of Russia is not high: Germany, France, and Austria, the combined area of which countries is only one-third of that of European Russia, produce together more grain than is produced in all Russia.

There are abundant crops of other staples, also, that Russia produces these are the flax crop, which yields 500,000 tons a year, produced in several of the governments of the north-east, northwest, and south hemp, 400,000 tons cotton, raised in Transcaucasia and Turkestan, especially in the Province of Ferghana, annual yield more than 170,000 tons. Tobacco was introduced into Russia in the seventeenth century its use was prohibited by severe laws but was allowed from the time of Peter the Great it is cultivated in the Governments of Tchernigoff, Pultowa, Samara, Saratoff, Taurida, Bessarabia, Kuban, etc. Its annual yield is about 100,000 tons, while the lands that are devoted to its cultivation cover an area of 1,755,000 acres. The principal tobacco factories are at St. Petersburg, Moscow, Riga, Kieff, and Odessa. The culture of beets, introduced into Russia about the beginning of the nineteenth century, has been greatly developed during the last thirty years, there being now devoted to it an aggregate area of 1,485,000 acres, the greater portion of which is in the Governments of Kieff and Podolia, the annual crop amounting to 10,000 tons. Wine is not extensively produced in Russia, and is of inferior quality. The best vineyards are in the Crimea, in Kakhetia, and in the Province of the Don Cossacks. There are 729,000 acres devoted to vine culture, and the yearly product amounts to not more than 88 million gallons. The Government seeks to encourage the home production of wine by very high duties on foreign wines. The culture of vegetables and fruit is not greatly developed market gardens thrive in the neighbourhood of the large cities, especially in the District of Rostoff, and in the Governments of Saratoff and Samara. The production of fruit is abundant in Transcaucasia and the Crimea.

According to the statistics of 1908 there were in Russia 140,656,000 head of cattle, namely, 28,723,000 horses, 42,031,000 horned cattle, 57,466,000 sheep and goats, and 12,436,000 hogs. The horned cattle are scattered over the whole of European Russia: the cattle of Siberia are of a better class, on account of the abundance of forests. There are numerous breeds of horses in Russia, and special establishments are devoted to the improvement of these breeds in the Province of the Don Cossacks and the Governments of Voronezh, Kherson, Tamboff, Pultowa, and Kharkoff. The annual product from the sheep is calculated at 120,000,000 roubles (1 rouble=52 cents U. S. A.). The best wool is produced by the flocks of the Governments of Novgorod and Voronezh, of the Volga, the Vistula, the Baltic, the Caucasus, and Turkestan. The raising of hogs is especially pursued in the Governments of Minsk and Volhynia. The chicken industry flourishes in Western and Central Russia fowls and eggs are exported and yield an annual income of more than 70,000,000 roubles, of which 61,000,000 are for eggs. The yearly production of honey is nearly 26,000 tons, and wax 5000 tons, yielding an aggregate income of from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 roubles. The culture of the silk-worm is being developed, chiefly in the Governments of Bessarabia, Kherson, and Taurida, and in Turkestan and the Caucasus. The yearly production of silk amounts to about 1000 tons.

The condition of the peasants, although greatly improved, is far from being prosperous, and the agrarian question is one of the gravest with which Russian statesmen have to deal. Prior to 1861, or since 1592 according to some authorities, 1649 according to others, the peasants were legally reduced to servitude (kriepostnoe pravo). They were under serfdom to the landowners, were attached to the soil, and were not allowed to change their place of residence or dispose freely of their property they were obliged to cultivate the lands of their employers and pay a tax to the State. The pomieshshiki, or landowners, became so many little tsars, and the peasants were reduced to the condition of slaves. As a consequence there occurred the revolts of the peasants, in the seventeenth century, under Stenko Razin, and in the eighteenth century, under Pugatcheff. During the reign of Catherine II a Russian author, Radishsheff, in his "Voyage from St. Petersburg to Moscow", suggested the necessity of freeing the peasants from their servitude the book was held to be dangerous, and its author was exiled to Siberia. Paul I in 1797 alleviated the condition of the peasants by decreeing that they should work only three days on the lands of their employers. Alexander I attempted in vain to free them: his humanitarian efforts were thwarted by the opposition of the nobles. Nicholas I entertained the same purpose, but notwithstanding his absolutism was unable to realize it he promulgated various laws however (1826, 1835, 1839, 1845, 1846, 1847, and 1848), by which the right of the peasants and of their communities (mir) to acquire real estate was recognized but these laws were not executed, and the pomieshshiki pretended to be uninformed of them.

The European revolution of 1848 and the Crimean War brought an awakening of Liberal ideas in Russia, and Alexander II, as one of the first measures of his reign, abolished serfdom. The preparatory measures for this consummation were studied by a secret committee in 1857. In 1859 the committees of the nobility and of the pomieshshiki in the various provinces discussed this question of the abolition of serfdom, and the Press dealt with it in an active way, showing Russia's moral and political need to solve it. An imperial commission, established in 1859, prepared a law which, after long deliberations and frequent modifications, received the signature of the tsar, 12 Feb., 1861, and was promulgated on 5 March of the same year. The terms of this law made all peasants free, and secured to them, upon the payment of a tax established by law, the use of their habitations (dvor) and a grant of land, of which they could become owners in fee simple by pecuniary redemption. Moreover, the pomieshshiki were obliged to grant to the peasants or to the mir the lands occupied by them, conformably with a maximum or minimum established by law. On the other hand, the dvorovie, or servants, who numbered 1,500,000, in 1861 regained their freedom, with however the obligation of serving their masters for a further period of two years.

The lands were so distributed that each peasant who was entitled to share in them received, on an average, fourteen acres on an average, because the quality of the lands was taken into account in the distribution in the zone of the Tchernozom, the concessions were of eight acres. Moreover, the distribution of lands was very unequal, and 42.6 per cent of the peasants who participated in it received concessions that were insufficient for their needs to this may be added that many millions of peasants were not benefited by the law, and that the annual tax to be paid to the Government by those who received portions of land became a burden. The Government therefore continued to enact laws to solve the agrarian question. The taxes were diminished in 1881, and in 1882 the Agrarian Bank was established, which helped the peasants to acquire possession of 19,000,000 acres in a few years. In 1885 the per capita tax paid by the peasants was abolished, by which the Government lost 50,000,000 roubles. Other laws some of them promulgated as late as 1900, are directed towards the protection of the rights of the peasants. These measures, however, are insufficient. The increase in the population has greatly reduced the average holding of land, which in 1893 amounted to 6.5 acres for each peasant. The improvidence of the peasants, drink, backward methods in agriculture, and bad crops have on more than one occasion caused famine to be felt in the agricultural regions. The agrarian question, therefore, lies like an incubus on Russia, while the various parties of the Duma propose different solutions for it. The moderate parties advise directing the peasant emigration towards Siberia, dispersing the peasants in less populous governments, and imparting to them agricultural instruction while the more advanced parties demand that the crown lands and the lands of the churches and the monasteries be divided among the peasants, or again that the great landowners be deprived of their rural possessions (socialization of lands). Until now, however, the debates that have taken place in the various dumas on this subject have led to no practical results.

WATCH: Kentucky’s role in the War of 1812

Posted On May 17, 2021 03:48:00

The War of 1812 was a conflict between the British and the US. The US wasn’t too happy about the British restricting their trade in Europe, so we went to war. What might surprise you to learn is how much of a role Kentucky played in this conflict, The reason? Well, first of all, Kentucky was the largest state in the West. Also, the population was high and the state manufactured gunpowder.

Mostly though, Kentuckians were such a force to be reckoned with during the War of 1812 because they were already mad at the British. At the time, many Americans believed the British were instigating Native American attacks on frontier states like Kentucky.


a territory occupying most of northern Asia and stretching from the Urals in the west to the mountain ranges of the Pacific Divide in the east and from the arctic coast in the north to the hilly steppes of the Kazakh SSR and the Mongolian and Chinese borders in the south. It has an area of about 10 million sq km. Within Siberia lie the Buriat, Tuva, and Yakut ASSR&rsquos, the Altai and Krasnoiarsk krais, and the Tiumen&rsquo, Kurgan, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, Irkutsk, and Chita oblasts of the RSFSR. As a historical region, Siberia also includes the Far East.

Natural features. Siberia has a highly diverse natural environment. The principal natural regions are the Western Siberian Lowland (with an average elevation of 120 m), the Central Siberian Plateau, the mountains of Southern Siberia, and the mountain system of Northeastern Siberia. The mountains of Southern Siberia include the Altai, the Zapadnyi Saian, the Vostochnyi Saian, and the mountains of the Tuva ASSR, the Baikal Region, and Transbaikalia. The mountains of Northeastern Siberia are bounded by the Verkhoiansk Range and the Kolyma Highlands, which form a great arc enclosing chains of mountain ranges, high uplifted plateaus, and extensive lowlands along the lana, Indigirka, and Kolyma rivers.

Situated in the middle and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, in the temperate and cold climatic zones, Siberia has a harsh and sharply continental climate over most of its territory. The difference between the mean temperature of the coldest month (January) and warmest month (July) varies from &ndash 68° to 35°C. The continentality of the climate increases from west to east, with increasing distance from the mitigating influence of the Atlantic air masses. Almost everywhere the mean annual air temperature is below 0°C in the northeast it drops to &ndash 18°C. Winters are long and cold. The mean January temperature ranges from &ndash 16° to &ndash20°C in the southern part of the Western Siberian Lowland and from &ndash40° to &ndash48°C in the eastern Yakut ASSR, where the temperature may fall to &ndash 70°C. Summers are relatively warm. The mean July temperature varies from 5°C on the northern coast of Siberia to 23°C on the steppes of Western Siberia. Most of the precipitation comes from the west. The total annual precipitation, 100&ndash250 mm in the Far North, increases to 500&ndash600 mm in the western taiga zone and to 1,000&ndash2,000 mm in the Altai mountains. As much as 75&ndash80 percent of the annual precipitation falls during the warm season, so that the winter snow cover is generally not thick, averaging 30&ndash40 cm. Siberia&rsquos severe climate causes the ground to freeze to a considerable depth and contributes to the formation of permafrost, which extends over more than 6 million sq km. The permafrost layer is as much as 200&ndash500 m thick in the north, increasing to 1,500 m in the Markha River basin..

Most of the Siberian rivers, including the largest&mdashOb&rsquo, Ir-tysh, Enisei, and Lena&mdashdrain into the basins of the arctic seas. The annual discharge of the Siberian rivers exceeds 2,500 cu km. The rivers are fed mainly by rain and snow, and the discharge during the warm period is 80&ndash90 percent of the annual total. High water occurs in the spring and early summer. The rivers are frozen five months out of the year in the south and eight months in the north. More than 100,000 km are suitable for navigation or floating timber. The most important rivers for transportation are the Ob&rsquo, Irtysh, Enisei, Lena, Angara, and Aldan. The major rivers of Siberia account for more than 50 percent of the USSR&rsquos hydroelectric potential. The largest of Siberia&rsquos numerous lakes are Baikal, Taimyr, Chany, and Telet-skoe.

The soil and vegetative cover of Siberia changes predominantly from north to south, forming distinct zones: arctic desert, tundra, forest tundra, forest (taiga), and, in the southern part of Western Siberia, forest steppe and steppe. In the tundra and forest-tundra zones, mosses, lichens, small or stunted shrubs, and perennial grasses grow on swampy-gley and gley-podzolic soils. The most typical Siberian landscapes are those of the taiga zone, up to 2,000 km wide in places. In the west dark coniferous taiga forests of spruce, fir, and Siberian cedar occupy areas with podzolic or soddy-podzolic soils: east of the Enisei, a light coniferous taiga of Dahurian larch flourishes on taiga-permafrost soils.

South of the taiga zone, within Western Siberia, lie forest-steppe and steppe zones with gray podzolized, meadow, leached, and typical chernozem soils east of the headwaters of the Ob&rsquo River these soils are encountered only in small isolated pockets. The vegetative cover of the steppes and forest steppes in the more densely populated regions has been greatly altered by man&rsquos economic activity. The steppes have been plowed up. the swampy meadows have been turned into hayfields, and the forests have been partially felled.

Particularly varied are the soils and vegetation of the mountainous parts of Siberia, where altitudinal zonation is clearly discernible. The foothills of the mountain ranges in Southern Siberia are generally covered with steppe vegetation. At higher elevations it is replaced by mountain taiga on mountain-pod-zolic or (in the east) taiga-permafrost soils mountain taiga occupies up to 60&ndash70 percent of Siberia&rsquos mountainous area. In the highest ranges, above the timberline, are found treeless alpine landscapes with shrub thickets, alpine and subalpine meadows, alpine tundra, and rock streams.

In the northern tundra zone there are numerous rodents, chiefly lemmings. Of the larger mammals, the most important are the reindeer and the arctic fox. Such aquatic birds as geese, ducks, sandpipers, and loons summer in Siberia. The richer and more diverse fauna of the taiga zone includes squirrels, sables. Siberian weasels, wolves, foxes, elk, brown bears, marals, and musk deer. About 200 species of birds, predominantly taiga species, inhabit the forest zone, among them capercaillies, hazel hen, woodpeckers, and crossbills. In the summer many aquatic birds are found around the lakes and swamps.

In the forest-steppe and steppe zones live numerous small rodents (voles, hamsters, jerboas, and susliks), as well as badgers, wolves, and corsac foxes. In Eastern Siberia, in addition to these animals, there are the weasel Mustela altaica, the cape hare, and the Mongolian marmot. The muskrat and mink have been acclimatized. Siberian rivers and lakes abound in such valuable commercial fish as the nelma, muksun (Coregonus muksun), whitefishes, arctic cisco, taimen (Hucho taimen), sturgeon, Siberian roach (Rutilus rutilus lacustris), ide, Eurasian perch (Perca fluviatilis), and pike perch.


Population. Until the end of the 16th century Siberia was thinly populated. It was only after Siberia became part of Russia in the 16th and 17th centuries that Russians began to settle Southern Siberia on a large scale. The zemleprokhodtsy (military servitors, traders, trappers), who explored large parts of Siberia, opened the way for the colonization of the region. The influx of settlers increased after the reform of 1861 and particularly during the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad from 1891 to 1905. After the October Revolution of 1917, the intensive exploitation of the region&rsquos natural resources and the development of its economy stimulated large-scale migration. Siberia&rsquos population has tripled in the postrevolutionary period, totaling 25,353,500 persons in 1970 (census).

Since World War II, both the size and social composition of the Siberian population have changed. The urban population increased almost three times between 1939 and 1973, when city dwellers constituted 65 percent of Siberia&rsquos population and 73 percent of that of the Far East. Siberia has 182 cities, including 32 with more than 100,000 inhabitants. In 1939 industrial workers accounted for 40 percent of the population, white collar personnel for 19.2 percent, kolkhoz members for 38.8 percent, and others for 2 percent in 1970 the proportion was 67.3 percent, 23.3 percent, 9.3 percent, and 0.1 percent, respectively.

According to the 1970 census, 89.2 percent of the population consists of Russians (21,470,500 persons), Ukrainians (943,700). and Byelorussians (193,500). These nationalities constitute the bulk of the population of the cities and of Central and Southern Siberia, particularly the areas along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, although they are also found in all the northern areas.

The indigenous inhabitants of Siberia, which constitute about 4 percent of the population, are scattered over the enormous expanses of the taiga and tundra. In terms of their culture and economy, they may be divided into two basic groups: livestock-raising and land-cultivating peoples (most peoples of the Yakuts and Buriats and all the peoples of Southern Siberia) and the minority peoples of the north (classified in the 1970 census as the nationalities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East), who are engaged primarily in reindeer breeding, hunting, and fishing. Among some peoples, notably the Nentsi and Chukchi, the main occupation is reindeer breeding among others, it is hunting (most of the taiga peoples) or fishing (Nivkh).

The peoples of Siberia may also be divided into seven linguistic groups: the Finno-Ugrian, Samoyed, Turkic, Mongolian, Tunguso-Manchurian, Eskimo-Aleut, and Paleo-Asiatic. The Finno-Ugrian group includes the Khanty (21,000 persons) and the Mansi (7,600), who live between the Ob&rsquo and the Enisei. The Samoyed group comprises the Nentsi (28,500), the Nganasani (800), and the Selkups (4,200), all of whom inhabit tundra west of the Khatanga River and the taiga area between the Ob&rsquo and the Enisei. The Turkic-speaking peoples of Siberia are the Yakuts (295,200) and Dolgan (4,700) in the Yakut ASSR and the Khakas (65,400), Altais (54,600), Shors (15,900), Tofs (Tofalar, 600). and Tuvans (139,000) in the mountains of Southern Siberia. The Buriats (312,800), found throughout the Buriat ASSR and in parts of Irkutsk and Chita oblasts, are a Mongolian-speaking people.

To the Tunguso-Manchurian group belong the Evenki (25,100), the Evens (11,800), the Negidal (500). the Nanai (9,900), the Ul&rsquochi (2,400), the Orochi (1,100), and the Udegei (1,400). They inhabit the vast expanses from the Enisei to the Pacific and from the arctic coast to the southern border of Siberia. The languages of the Eskimos (1,300) and the Aleuts (400) who live on the coast of the Chukchi Peninsula and on the Komandorskie Islands are related to the Eskimo-Aleut family. Various Paleo-Asiatic languages are spoken by the Chukchi (13,500), Koriaks (7,400), Itel&rsquomeny (1,300), and Iukagirs (Yu-kaghir 600) found in the extreme northeastern part of the Far East. The Nivkh (4,400), who live along the lower reaches of the Amur and on the Island of Sakhalin, and the Ket (1,200), who inhabit the basin of the middle Enisei, also speak Paleo-Asiatic languages.

Several other nationalities are represented: Tatars (448,000), in Central and Southern Siberia, Germans (458,500), in the southwest, and Kazakhs (99,000), along the border of the Kazakh SSR. Koreans (65,000) live in parts of the Far East. Chuvash (130,000) and Mordovians (110,900) are found in small numbers in all the krais and oblasts of Siberia.


Historical survey. The earliest traces of man&rsquos ancestors in Siberia have been discovered in Southern Siberia, from the Gor-nyi Altai to the Amur River basin. Upper Paleolithic remains have been found in the basins of all the major Siberian rivers (Diuktaiskaia Cave on the Aldan River), as well as on the Kamchatka and Chukchi peninsulas. Ancient dwellings and artistic objects have been discovered in the Baikal Region, at Mal&rsquota and Buret&rsquo. The spread of metallurgy during the Aeneolithic caused major changes in the culture and social structure of the Siberian peoples. The earliest cultures&mdashthe Afanasiev and Okuniev&mdashattest to a more intensive development in Southern Siberia and to the gradual emergence of crop cultivation and livestock raising. The development of farming areas in the Minusinsk Basin and elsewhere occurred simultaneously with the formation of nomadic tribes, which were roaming over large parts of Siberia by the beginning of the Common Era. At the end of the first millennium B.C., the Hsiung-nu formed a tribal confederation in Southern Siberia. The Turkic-speaking peoples withdrew from the confederation in the first half of the first millenniumAD. and the Mongolian-speaking peoples in the seventh and eighth centuries. Large states, notably the Turkic Kaganate and Bokhai, arose. At the beginning of the 13th century, Southern Siberia became part of the Mongol Feudal Empire. With the disintegration of the Golden Horde in the early 15th century, the Siberian Khanate was formed in the western part of the empire. The northern part of Western Siberia was known to the Novgorodians from the 11th century as Iugra Land, where the ushkuiniki (Novgorodian detachments organized by the boyars to seize lands in the north) went to hunt fur-bearing animals, to trade, and to collect the iasak (tax in furs).

In the 15th century the Moscow princes sent expeditions into Siberia, and by the end of the century they had established diplomatic relations with the Tiumen&rsquo Khanate. Several Ugrian tribal confederations along the lower Ob&rsquo paid tribute to the Russians. The development of commodity-money relations stimulated Russian trade with Siberia. At the end of the 16th century, the centralized Russian state had the military and economic capability of annexing the enormous and inhospitable territory of Siberia, inhabited by various peoples.

The Perm&rsquo possessions of the Stroganovs served as a starting point for the annexation of Siberia. A band of cossack mercenaries organized by the Stroganovs and led by Ermak crossed the Urals in 1581 (according to some sources, 1579). This military campaign weakened the Siberian Khanate and opened up the Irtysh River valley to the Russians. The routes across the Urals and the new territory in Western Siberia were reinforced, and cities were founded (Tiumen&rsquo in 1586, Tobol&rsquosk in 1587). The defeat of Khan Kuchum in 1598 led to the disintegration of the Siberian Khanate, although Kuchum&rsquos descendants continued to harass the Russian settlements adjoining the steppe regions in the 17th century.

In general, the Russians advanced northward and eastward. The city of Mangazeia was founded in 1601 and Tomskin 1604. Fort Eniseisk was established in 1619, and Fort Krasnoiarsk in 1628. From the Enisei, the Russians moved eastward along the Angara, founding Fort Ilim in 1630 and Fort Bratsk in 1631. After Fort Yakutsk was founded on the Lena River in 1632, most of the Yakuts became Russian citizens. At the same time, there was a further advance eastward and northward from Mangazeia. In 1639 the Russians reached the Sea of Okhotsk. Western Buriatia, Transbaikalia, and the Amur Region were annexed in succession in the mid-17th century. Founded in 1661, Fort Irkutsk became the center of a large military district. At the beginning of the 18th century, the Russian population of Siberia totaled more than 300,000, significantly exceeding the number of indigenous inhabitants.

In the wake of the sluzhilye liudi (military servitors), traders, and hunters came peasant colonists. The Russian settlers brought into Siberia a relatively high level of farming. The Siberian peoples adopted the Russians&rsquo farming practices, as well as some of their livestock-raising and hunting techniques. The Russian feudal state exploited the indigenous population through the collection of the iasak. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, the demand for manufactured articles was essentially satisfied by imports from European Russia the domestic industries of the Russian and indigenous population supplied only a small part of the manufactured goods. Gradually, leather-footwear, woodworking, and metalworking shops were established. At this time, Siberia exported almost exclusively furs to European Russia. Most Siberian cities were founded as military and administrative centers, although a few of them, notably Tobol&rsquosk and Eniseisk, were becoming artisan and trade centers as early as the 17th century.

In the 18th century much of the Russian population of Siberia migrated southward into the forest-steppe and steppe zones. In the late 1720&rsquos and early 1730&rsquos the first metallurgical enterprises of the manufacture type were built in the foothills of the Altai: the Kolyvan&rsquo and Barnaul plants and the Zmeinogorsk mine. The establishment of cabinet lands (property of the imperial family) in the Altai in 1747 stimulated the development of mining and metallurgy in the area. Mining also became important in eastern Transbaikalia. Farming developed successfully, and the sown area expanded, particularly in the steppe and forest-steppe zones. Although almost everywhere the peasants were transformed into state peasants, they had significant economic independence and controlled the land (they could lease, mortgage, and sell land). Of great significance for the opening up of Siberia were the expeditions headed by V. Bering, D. Laptev, Kh. Laptev, I. G. Gmelin, G. F. Miller, S. P. Krash-eninnikov, and P. S. Pallas, all of them sponsored by the Academy of Sciences.

In the late 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries settlers continued to arrive in Siberia, among them a considerable number of exiles. In Western Siberia farming developed successfully in the Ialutorovsk, Kurgan, and Omsk okrugs. In Eastern Siberia grain production was concentrated in the southern part of Eniseisk Province grain was also grown in northeastern Siberia. The main branch of livestock raising in the steppe regions was the breeding of horses for transport (the Moscow-Siberian route required as many as 50,000 horses) and for draft power in industry and agriculture.

Owing to the availability of land, the Siberian peasant communities did not adopt compulsory land reallotment or crop rotation. The middle-level peasant was the mainstay of rural Siberia. In such areas as the steppe Altai market production reached a high level on peasant farms, but the narrowness of the market and a shortage of hired labor impeded the development of capitalist relations. In the first half of the 19th century a new industry, gold mining, was established. The largest mines were in the Mariinsk taiga in Tomsk Province and in Eniseisk Province, which alone produced 60 percent of Siberia&rsquos gold output between 1838 and 1860. Private enterprise of the capitalist type predominated.

Siberia was administered by the Posol&rsquoskii Prikaz (Foreign Office) until 1599, when it came under the jurisdiction of the Prikaz Kazanskogo Dvortsa (Kazan Palace Prikaz). The Siberian Prikaz was formed in 1637. In the 17th century local power was exercised by voevodas (military governors), who preserved the internal organization of the indigenous peoples and relied on the chieftains for support. The Siberian Province was created in 1708 with Tobol&rsquosk as its administrative center. In 1764. Siberia was divided into the Tobol&rsquosk and Irkutsk provinces, and in 1782&ndash83, into the Tobol&rsquosk, Kolyvan&rsquo, and Irkutsk vice-gerencies, subdivided into oblasts. In 1796 the provinces of Tobol&rsquosk and Irkutsk were reestablished. Yakutsk Oblast was formed in 1805.

The Governor-generalship of Siberia was formed in 1803. From 1819 to 1822 it was headed by M. M. Speranskii, who in 1822 carried out a reform of the Siberian administration under which two governor-generalships, a western and an eastern, were created. The Western Siberian Governor-generalship (with Tobol&rsquosk and, from 1839, Omsk as its administrative center) included Tobol&rsquosk and Tomsk provinces and Omsk Oblast. The Western Siberian Governor-generalship, administered from Irkutsk, comprised Irkutsk and Eniseisk provinces, Yakutsk Oblast, and the administrative units of Okhotsk, Kam-chatka-Primor&rsquoe, and Troitsko-Savsk. The Siberian Committee was formed in St. Petersburg. The Charter on the Governing of Foreigners, promulgated in 1822, gave legal sanction to the tsarist policies toward the non-Russian population of Siberia.

The Siberian Cossack Host played a major role in the development of Siberia and the Far East and in defending the eastern territories of the Russian state. The Transbaikal Cossack Host was formed in 1851, and the Amur Cossack Host subsequently seceded from it. The Lower Amur Region, Ussuri Krai, and the Island of Sakhalin were incorporated into Russia in the 1850&rsquos. The Kamchatka (1849&ndash56), Transbaikal (1851), Pri-mor&rsquoe (1856), and Amur (1858) oblasts were created. N. N. Mu-rav&rsquoev-Amurskii, the governor-general of Eastern Siberia, encouraged the exploration of the Far East. The Amur River, the Amur Region, Sakhalin, and Ussuri Krai were explored by G. I. Nevel&rsquoskoi. Vladivostok was founded in 1860. The Siberian Naval Flotilla, organized in the 18th century, was responsible for defending the Far East coast.

Siberian chronicles were compiled from the 16th century. The first secular school in Siberia was opened in Tobol&rsquosk in 1701&ndash02. The ecclesiastical school that was founded in the city in 1702&ndash03 became a seminary in the 1740&rsquos. Many monasteries established schools in the first half of the 18th century, and &ldquocounting&rdquo schools (state primary schools specializing in mathematics) were opened in the 1720&rsquos and 1730&rsquos. The Asiatic School was founded in Omsk in 1789 to train translators in Tatar, Kalmyk, Mongolian, and Manchurian. Vocational schools of navigation, surveying, and mining were established in the mid-18th century, and a school of mines was opened in Barnaul in the 1780&rsquos. The first public schools were founded in 1788&ndash90. The Tobol&rsquosk School published the first Siberian magazine, called Irtysh, prevrashchaiushchiisia &nu Ipokrenu (Irtysh Transformed Into Ipokrena, 1789&ndash91). In the first half of the 19th century Gymnasiums were opened in Tobol&rsquosk and Irkutsk, as well as district schools and the urban and rural parish schools. The Siberian historian P. A. Slovtsov published his Historical Survey of Siberia between 1838 and 1844. Exiled Decembrists made an important contribution to the development of Siberian culture. G. I. Spasskii, S. I. Guliaev, and other Siberian scholars began to collect ethnographic and folklore material.

In the second half of the 19th century capitalist relations spread over a wider area in the course of the large-scale colonization of unoccupied land. Between 1861 and 1895 some 750,000 persons migrated here, most of them settling in Western Siberia. Commercial farming was introduced in the Altai (excluding the Gornyi Altai) and along the Siberian highway and major navigable rivers. These developments had an adverse effect on peasant life. Under the expansionist system of landownership, regulated by the state and the peasant commune, the prosperous old settlers increasingly used the hired labor of new immigrants and exiles. Agriculture was combined with cottage industry and various trades.

The latter part of the 19th century saw the decline of state-controlled (crown) industry and the growth of private capitalist production. The gold industry expanded in the northeast, accounting for 75&ndash80 percent of Russia&rsquos gold output. Among other developing industries were distilling, flour milling, and the processing of hides and sheepskins. In the Far East the chief industries were fishing and the hunting of marine animals.

In Siberia the industrial revolution began in the I870&rsquos and 1880&rsquos and lasted until 1917. A Siberian proletariat emerged, numbering some 250,000 persons by the end of the century. Although the indigenous people were oppressed, their closer contact with Russian workers had a positive effect on their economic development, culture, and daily life. Owing to the absence of landowners in Siberia, the peasant movement was directed against the government and local administration. The workers&rsquo movement, whose goals were economic, grew stronger, and from the 1890&rsquos strikes were its primary weapon. The movement of the Siberian oblastniki (regionalists) gained momentum.

Siberia was the principal place of exile and hard labor in the Russian Empire. In the 19th century more than 1 million exiles and their families came to Siberia. In 1900 they numbered 287,200 persons, excluding those sentenced to hard labor. The system of political exile gave impetus to the revolutionary and social movement in Siberia. The exiles also participated in the study of Siberia and contributed to the development of scientific and cultural life. The Siberian Division of the Russian Geographic Society was founded in 1851 and the Minusinsk Museum in 1877. Siberia&rsquos first university was founded in Tomsk in 1880 in 1894 it began publishing the daily newspaper Sibirskaia zhizn (Siberian Life).

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Far East became an arena of struggle between the imperialist states, including Russia, for control over the Pacific coast. The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railroad between 1891 and 1904 stimulated the economic development of Siberia. Monopolies appeared, the flow of foreign capital into the economy increased, and the formation of an industrial proletariat was accelerated. According to some sources, the proletariat numbered more than 500,000 persons by 1917. On the whole, however, Siberia was an underdeveloped part of the Russian Empire, producing about 2 percent of the country&rsquos industrial output.

Migration to Siberia increased sharply in the early 20th century, particularly during the Stolypin Agrarian Reform. Between 1896 and 1914 more than 4 million settlers arrived here. The sown area and number of livestock increased, and Siberia became a leading butter-making region. Poor peasant farms accounted for 45&ndash50 percent of all farms, and kulak farms, for 15&ndash20 percent. Capitalist relations developed more strongly among the Buriats, Yakuts, Altais, and Khakas than among the other indigenous peoples, but even here feudal-patriarchal relations predominated.

Marxism spread to Siberia in the 1890&rsquos. V. I. Lenin was in exile in Siberia from 1897 to 1900. The Siberian Union of the RSDLP was organized in 1901, and the workers&rsquo movement shifted to political struggle. During the Russo-Japanese War of 1904&ndash05, military supplies were shipped through Siberia. By the Treaty of Portsmouth (1905), southern Sakhalin was ceded to Japan. The working class of Siberia took an active part in the Revolution of 1905&ndash07. Mass meetings, demonstrations, and strikes were held in January 1905, and almost all the Siberian towns, railroad stations, and worker settlements participated in the nationwide strike in October. The first soviets were organized at this time. At the end of 1905, the revolutionary movement developed into an armed insurrection that culminated in the formation of the short-lived Krasnoiarsk and Chita republics. Under the influence of the workers, the peasant movement spread, becoming strongest in the Altai and Transbaikalia. The Lena massacre in 1912 intensified the revolutionary upsurge not only in Siberia but throughout the Russian Empire.

During World War I (1914&ndash18), Siberia was affected by the national economic crisis, and the workers&rsquo living conditions deteriorated. The growth of the revolutionary movement enabled the Russian Social Democrats to revive old proletarian organizations (trade unions, mutual-aid funds) and establish new ones. The exiled Bolsheviks la. M. Sverdlov, G. K. Ordzhonikidze, V. V. Kuibyshev, and E. D. Stasova made an important contribution to the revolutionary movement.

After the February Revolution of 1917, dual power was established in Siberia. Organs of bourgeois power&mdashcommittees of public safety and committees of law and order&mdashcoexisted with soviets of workers&rsquo and soldiers&rsquo deputies. Later, the counterrevolutionary Siberian Regional Duma was formed. In Siberia the struggle for Soviet power was long and difficult. Soviet power was established in Krasnoiarsk on Oct. 28 (Nov. 10), 1917 in Vladivostok, on Nov. 18 (Dec. 1), 1917 in Omsk, on Nov. 30 (Dec. 13), 1917 in Tomsk, Barnaul, and Khabarovsk, on Dec. 6 (19), 1917 and in Irkutsk, on Dec. 22, 1917 (Jan. 4, 1918). The victory of Soviet power in Siberia was reinforced by the Second All-Siberian Congress of Soviets, held in Irkutsk in February 1918. The Congress formed the directing body of the Siberian soviets, Tsentrosibir&rsquo, presided over first by B. Z. Shu-miatskii and later by N. N. Iakovlev.

The revolutionary changes in Siberia were interrupted by the intervention of the imperialist powers and the outbreak of the Civil War (1918&ndash20). The mutiny of the Czechoslovak Corps and the actions of Siberian counterrevolutionaries caused the temporary downfall of Soviet power in the summer of 1918. A White Guard regime, the Kolchak government, was established in November 1918. Led by the working class and directed by the Communist Party, the working people of Siberia struggled to restore Soviet power. The middle peasantry&rsquos acceptance of Soviet power in 1919 strengthened the national struggle against the White Guards and interventionists. Partisan armies under the command of I. V. Gromov, E. M. Mamontov, and P. E. Shchetinkin liberated vast areas of Siberia.

The Red Army, which began the liberation of Siberia in the autumn of 1919, played a decisive role in the defeat of the forces of Admiral A. V. Kolchak and the interventionists. In the spring of 1920 the Red Army was approaching the eastern parts of Siberia, occupied by Japanese troops. To avert war with Japan under difficult international and military circumstances, the Far East Republic (FER) was formed. In October 1922 the people&rsquos revolutionary army of the FER completely defeated the White Guards, liberating Vladivostok on October 25. During the Civil War the Siberian party organizations were led by S. G. Lazo and P. P. Postyshev. Among outstanding Red Army commanders were V. K. Bliukher and I. P. Uborevich.

Economic reconstruction began immediately after the Civil War. Administrative-territorial changes were introduced, the provinces being replaced by two krais, the Siberian Krai (1925) and the Far East Krai (1926). In 1930 the Siberian Krai was subdivided into the Eastern and Western Siberian krais. In 1937&ndash38 a number of oblasts were formed, as well as two krais, Primor&rsquoe and Khabarovsk. In the course of socialist construction, the former de facto inequality of the Siberian peoples was abolished, and the indigenous peoples acquired national statehood. Autonomous republics were set up: the Yakut ASSR in 1922 and the Buriat-Mongol ASSR in 1923, renamed the Buriat ASSR in 1958. The Oirot Autonomous Oblast was established in 1922, becoming the Gorno-Altai AO in 1948. National okrugs and raions were also created.

In the course of industrialization, the USSR&rsquos second coal and metallurgical base, the Urals-Kuznetsk Combine, was established. Exploitation of the newly discovered Aldan gold mines began, and new industrial sectors arose, such as power engineering, machine building, and the production of chemicals and building materials. By the end of the second five-year plan, the gross output of large-scale industry in Western Siberia was 20 times that of 1913 in Eastern Siberia the output had increased 11 times and in the Far East, 8.9 times. The Trans-Siberian Railroad was equipped with double tracks. The Northern Sea Route and the Siberian regions of the Far North were developed. As a result of complete collectivization, the kulaks were eliminated as a class. In 1937, the kolkhozes included 93 percent of the peasant farms and 99.6 percent of the sown area. By the end of the 1930&rsquos, Siberia had become one of the USSR&rsquos developed industrial and agricultural regions.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941&ndash45), Siberia, along with the Urals and the Volga Region, became a national arsenal. Of the 1,523 industrial enterprises that were transferred out of the European USSR between July and November 1941, 322 were relocated in Siberia. During the war years, Siberia manufactured aircraft, tanks, and tractors and expanded its production of ball bearings, new types of machine-tool equipment, tools, and instruments. The gross industrial output almost doubled. In 1945, Siberia smelted about 21 percent of the nation&rsquos steel and 18 percent of its iron it also produced 32 percent of the country&rsquos coal and a large part of its armaments. Between 1941 and 1944 Siberia&rsquos kokhozes produced 700 million poods of grain (1 pood = 16.38 kg) or 16 percent of the USSR&rsquos total output. In 1946 the Siberian economy was for the most part restored to a peacetime footing.

Siberia has become a culturally and scientifically advanced region. During the prewar five-year plans, illiteracy was basically eliminated, and universal primary education was introduced (seven years of schooling in the cities). The number of schools and cultural-educational institutions has increased several times over since the war. In 1973, Siberia had about 19,000 general-education schools, more than 13,000 libraries, containing 150 million books, 16,300 clubs, and 21,500 motion-picture projection units. With the formation of the Siberian Division of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in 1957, Siberia acquired many new scientific institutions. In 1974 there were 68 institutes (with 23,000 researchers) affiliated with the Academy of Sciences. Siberia has more than 100 higher schools and about 500 secondary specialized schools, as well as hundreds of research institutes in various fields. Many of the minority peoples have acquired writing systems. National cadres have emerged, and the literature and art of the various Siberian peoples are flourishing. The economic and cultural ties between the national regions of Siberia and other parts of the country are expanding.


M. M. GROMYKO (to 1861), L. M. GORIUSHKIN (from 1861 to 1917), and N. IA. GUSHCHIN (since October 1917)

Economic survey. In the 1950&rsquos and 1960&rsquos there were major changes in the development and distribution of Siberia&rsquos productive forces (data for the Western and Eastern Siberian economic regions are given below). Projects were undertaken to harness the hydroelectric resources of the Angara, Enisei, and Ob&rsquo rivers. The newly built Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Bratsk, and Krasnoiarsk hydroelectric power plants permitted the construction of large power-intensive industrial complexes producing aluminum, chemicals, and pulp and paper. A number of railroads were built, among them the Abakan-Taishet, Tiu-man&rsquo-Surgut, Ivdel&rsquo-Sergino, Tavda-Sotnik, Asino-Belyi lar, Achinsk-Abalakovo, Khrebtovaia-Ust&rsquo-Ilimsk, and Taishet-Lena. An oil pipeline was laid from Tuimaza to Angarsk, which became a major oil-refining and petrochemical center, as well as from Surgut to Omsk and Anzhero-Sudzhensk. A gas pipeline was built linking the northern part of Western Siberia with the center of the country. A diamond-mining industry was established in Yakutia on the basis of the diamond deposits discovered there.

After enormous reserves of oil and natural gas were discovered in the northern part of Western Siberia, an oil and gas industry developed in the area in a remarkably short time in the 1960&rsquos. In 1974, Siberia contributed 25.4 percent of the USSR&rsquos petroleum output, including gas condensate, and 10.2 percent of its gas output. The coal industry of the Kuznetsk Basin, the Kansk-Achinsk and Irkutsk basins, and Transbaikalia produced 225 million tons in 1974, or one-third of the national output of solid fuel.

Siberia&rsquos plentiful coal is used to operate the large Nazarovo, Tom&rsquo-Usa, and South Kuzbas steam power plants. The steam and hydroelectric power plants together produced 179 billion kilowatt-hours in 1974, or 18 percent of the national output of electric power. In the southern part of Siberia, the power plants have been integrated to form the Unified Power Grid, which in the near future will be linked with the power grids of the Urals and the Far East. The steady expansion of oil and gas production in Western Siberia and of coal mining in the Kansk-Achinsk Basin, as well as the construction of new hydroelectric power plants on the Angara River (Ust&rsquo-Ilimsk and Bogucha-ny) and the Enisei (Saian-Shushenskoe), is transforming Siberia into one of the country&rsquos major fuel and power bases, supplying a significant portion of the demand of the European USSR and permitting the development of large local centers of power-intensive industry.

The USSR&rsquos third base of ferrous metallurgy has been established in Siberia. It includes the full-cycle Kuznetsk Metallurgical Combine and the Western Siberian Metallurgical Works. These enterprises are supplemented by conversion plants with rolling mills in Novosibirsk, Krasnoiarsk, and Petrovsk-Za-baikal&rsquoskii. The existence of major reserves of iron ore and coking coal and the growing demand for metal point toward the construction of other bases of ferrous metallurgy in Eastern Siberia. Machine building has expanded in such cities as Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, and Krasnoiarsk. In 1974, Siberia produced 26 percent of the country&rsquos grain harvesting combines, 34 percent of its tractor-drawn plows, 7.4 percent of its tractors, 14.8 percent of its radios and radio-phonographs, 13.1 percent of its refrigerators, and 12 percent of its washing machines.

Siberia&rsquos nonferrous metallurgy industry, based in Noril&rsquosk, Bratsk, Krasnoiarsk, Novokuznetsk, Shelekhov, and Belovo, is of national importance. The chief products are nonferrous and rare metals, asbestos, mica, graphite, and fluorspar.

In 1974, Siberia supplied 26 percent of the country&rsquos timber, 22 percent of its lumber, and 15 percent of its pulp. The Bratsk Lumber Industry Complex is the largest such enterprise in the USSR. Wood-processing complexes are being established at Ust&rsquo-Ilimsk and Lesosibirsk, and a pulp plant has been put into operation at Baikal&rsquosk.

Based on petroleum refining, Siberia&rsquos large chemical industry is producing nitrogen fertilizers, synthetic alcohol, and synthetic rubber. The main centers are Kemerovo, Omsk, and Barnaul. A large petrochemical combine is being built in Tomsk.

The large volume of capital construction has necessitated the development of large centers of the building industry, as well as of the building materials industry. In 1974, Siberia produced 10 percent of the country&rsquos cement and 11 percent of its window glass.

The industrial output of the Siberian regions has been increasing at a rapid rate. In comparison with 1940, their industrial output was 12 times greater in 1965 and 27 times greater in 1974, constituting 9 percent of the industrial production of the USSR.

There have also been significant achievements in agriculture. Most of the sown area is found in the southern part of Siberia. Between 1954 and 1960 vast tracts of virgin land were developed (in Western Siberia about 7 million hectares). In 1974 the sown area was four times that of 1913, totaling 26.7 million hectares, or 12.3 percent of the sown area of the USSR. Siberia produces 3.8 percent of the country&rsquos commercial grain (chiefly spring wheat), 16 percent of its meat, and 10 percent of its butter. Its livestock population includes about 11 million head of cattle and more than 16 million sheep and goats (11 percent of the national total).

Since the war, much attention has been given to the development of all types of transport. The length of Siberia&rsquos railroads has doubled in the postrevolutionary period, now totaling more than 14,000 km of track, half of which is electrified. The Trans-Siberian Railroad has been electrified from Moscow to Pe-trovsk-Zabaikal&rsquoskii. In 1974 construction began on the 3,145-km Baikal-Amur Main Line (BAM), which will provide a second outlet to the Pacific coast and will permit the development of the natural riches of Eastern Siberia. Pipelines and major seaports (Dikson, Dudinka, Igarka) have been built.

The prospects for the further expansion of Siberia&rsquos productive forces are linked to the development of nationally significant territorial production complexes: the Middle Ob&rsquo, Bratsk-Ust&rsquo-Ilimsk, and Saian complexes, as well as new complexes in Transbaikalia and the Amur Region, which are dependent on the construction of the BAM.

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