11 May 1881. Emperor Alexander III published a manifesto that confirmed the inviolability of the principles of autocracy. This document, prepared by a law scholar, statesman Konstantin Pobedonostsev, buried the hopes of liberal circles for constitutional changes in the state system of the Russian empire. These hopes appeared during the reign of Emperor Alexander II. At the end of his reign, a draft was drawn up aimed at restricting the autocracy in favor of bodies with limited representation. The rights of the already existing State Council were expanded, they also intended to establish a “General Commission” (congress) that was formed “by appointment” of the government and partly by representatives of zemstvos.
The conductor of this “constitutional project” was Minister of the Interior Mikhail Loris-Melikov, who at the end of the reign of Alexander II had extraordinary powers, as well as Minister of Finance Alexander Abaza. Many other statesmen and ministers supported the idea. Emperor Alexander II was inclined to support this project, and approved it. On 4 March, 1881 was scheduled to discuss the plan at a meeting of the Council of Ministers, with subsequent entry into force. However, 1 March, the emperor was killed.
8 March 1881, already under Tsar Alexander III, a discussion took place. Most ministers supported the idea. Against, Count Sergei Stroganov spoke, he rightly believed that "the power will pass from the hands of the autocratic monarch ... into the hands of various mischievous people who think ... only about their personal gain" and Pobedonostsev - "it is necessary to think not about the establishment of a new talker, ... about the business" . The emperor hesitated for a while before choosing the strategic course of his rule, taking a neutral position between the parties of the “liberals” and the “statesmen”. But in the end, he chose a course to strengthen the autocratic system.
It was the right choice. It should be noted that the virus of liberalism has always weakened the strength of Russia. The Russian state, due to its historical development, strategic location and territory, has almost always been an empire that requires strong, centralized power. The reign of the “liberator” tsar seriously undermined the foundations of the empire. The liberal economic policy, which was characterized by the refusal of the government of Alexander II from industrial protectionism, active foreign loans, led to an economic crisis.
Since the introduction of the liberal customs tariff in 1857, by 1862, cotton processing in the Russian state has decreased by 3,5 times, and iron production has decreased by 25%. In 1868, a new customs tariff was introduced, which continued the liberal course. Import duties were reduced on average 10 times, and for some products 20-40 times. As a result, the entire period of the reign of Alexander II and until the second half of the 1880-ies. continued economic depression. Evidence of slow industrial growth during the reign of Alexander Nikolayevich is the production of pig iron. 1855-1859 to 1875-1879 growth was only 67% (for comparison, in Germany, iron smelting increased during this time by 319%), and from 1880 — 1884 to 1900 — 1904. production growth was 487%.
The situation has worsened in agriculture. It was believed that the peasant reform would lead to an increase in productivity in this most important sector of the national economy, but these expectations were not fulfilled. Productivity increased only in 1880-s. Hunger, as a mass phenomenon, in Russia did not know since the time of Catherine II, during the reign of Alexander II, hunger again returned to the Russian villages.
The liberal customs tariff hindered the development of domestic industry and led to a serious increase in imports. By 1876, imports increased almost 4 times. If earlier the state’s trade balance was positive all the time, then during the reign of Alexander II its constant deterioration occurred. Since 1871, the trade balance has been negative for several years. In 1875, the deficit reached its record - 35% of the export volume (162 million rubles). This led to the outflow of gold from the country and the depreciation of the ruble. The situation has worsened so much that at the end of the reign of Alexander Nikolayevich the government began to resort to increasing import duties, which made it possible to somewhat improve the trade balance.
Alexander II is credited with the rapid development of the railway network, which stimulated the Russian steam engine and car building. But the development of the railway network was accompanied by massive abuses and deterioration of the financial situation of Russia. Huge government (national) money went to support private companies, which the state guaranteed to cover their expenses and supported subsidies. Private traders in order to obtain government subsidies artificially inflated their spending. The unpaid obligations of the Russian government to private railway companies in 1871 amounted to 174 million rubles, and after a few years they exceeded half a billion rubles (this was a huge sum for those times). A completely outrageous picture emerged when the railways that were actually built with state money belonged to private firms, and the state also reimbursed them for losses, often inflated. Predation and deception flourished. Subsequently, Alexander III had to eliminate the consequences of such unwise steps and return the railways to state control. This experience has shown that railways should not be given into private hands, “railway kings” think first of all about their own pocket, and not about the strategic interests of the state and the welfare of the people. In addition, the roads were often bad, with poor throughput. As a result, the state (the people) suffered huge losses.
Under Emperor Nicholas I, there were almost no foreign loans, and the government of Alexander II began to actively resort to covering budget expenses. This made Russia dependent on Western financial structures. Loans were taken on extremely unfavorable conditions: commission to banks amounted to 10% of the amount for borrowing. In addition, loans were placed, as a rule, at a price of 63-67% to its nominal, as a result, the treasury received a little more than half of the loan amount, and the debt was considered to be the full amount, and 7-8 annual interest was charged on the full amount. The Russian Empire received a huge debt burden: 1862 - 2,2 billion rubles., The beginning of 1880's - 5,9 billion rubles. With the "Liberator" from 1859, the hard ruble to gold exchange rate, which was adhered to under Nicholas I, was abolished, credit money was introduced into circulation that did not have a solid exchange rate to the precious metal. In 1860 and 1870, the government was forced, to cover the budget deficit, to resort to issuing loan money, which led to their depreciation and disappearance from the circulation of metallic money. Attempts to reintroduce a firm exchange rate of the paper ruble to gold failed.
In general, the economic course of the government of Alexander Nikolayevich led to the decline of industry, waste of forces and means, financial dependence on the Western world, and the prosperity of a narrow group of the predatory bourgeoisie. Depression in the economy was accompanied by an increase in corruption and theft. The largest feeders were the financial sector, various financial intermediaries appropriated a significant part of government loans and the railway industry. A number of high-ranking officials participated in the establishment of railway companies, helping them with their administrative resources. In addition, entrepreneurs paid large bribes to officials for certain permits in their favor. It came to the point that, according to a number of contemporaries and researchers, the emperor himself was unclean. As the Russian historian P.A. Zayonchkovsky noted, Alexander had “a very peculiar idea of honesty”. In his reign, rail concessions were distributed to favorites and favorites to improve their financial situation. Often such transactions took place under the influence of his mistress and future morganatic wife of Princess Ekaterina Dolgorukova, who received the title of the brightest Princess Yuryevskaya. Very emphatically, the emperor also disposed of the treasury, gave the brothers a number of rich estates from state lands, and allowed them to build luxurious palaces at the expense of the state.
In foreign policy, the government of Alexander II also made a number of gross strategic miscalculations. Suffice it to recall the scam with the sale of Russian America. Many mistakes were made in the Balkan direction, where Russia first allowed itself to be drawn into the unnecessary war with Turkey, during the campaign itself, and then during the peace negotiations, when St. Petersburg allowed to take away a significant part of the fruits of victory.
It was during the reign of Alexander II that the revolutionary underground was created, which would destroy the empire in 1917. In the reign of Nicholas revolutionary activity was reduced to almost zero. The social base of the revolutionaries also increased. There was a significant increase in peasant uprisings, an increase in the number of protest groups among intellectuals and workers. For the first time, Russia has learned what terror is, which has become widespread. By the end of the reign of Alexander Nikolayevich protest moods infiltrated the nobility and the army. It got to the point that the liberal public applauded the terrorists. The Russian Empire accelerated towards the revolution. The death of the emperor was the logical outcome of his work. He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind.
Emperor Alexander III reassured Russia. With his Manifesto on the inviolability of the autocracy, he inspired confidence in the course of the government to all statesmen. Liberal ministers and policymakers were dismissed. The key Ministry of the Interior was headed by Slavophil Nikolai Ignatiev, and the military department Peter Vannovsky. The period of counterreforms began, which led to the stabilization of the state.
The activities of Alexander Alexandrovich led to the prosperity of the empire and the growth of its power. Under Alexander III, nicknamed the Peacemaker, Russia did not wage external wars, but its territory increased by 429 895 square. km, for comparison, the area of modern Britain - 243 809 square. km From 1881 to 1894, the year was constantly held measures to modernize the armed forces and strengthen the defenses of the Russian Empire. By the end of the reign of Alexander III, the number of the Russian army reached almost 1 million, which was about 1% of the population of Russia. In wartime, the Russian state could quickly mobilize 2,7 million. The military transformations carried out by the Minister of War, Vannovsky, significantly improved and strengthened the army.
The emperor paid much attention to the creation of a strong naval fleet, which after the Crimean War never regained its power. On behalf of Alexander Alexandrovich, the Maritime Department developed a shipbuilding program for 1882 - 1900: they were planning to put into operation 16 squadron battleships, 13 cruisers, 19 navigable gunboats and more than 100 destroyers. By 1896, 8 squadron battleships, 7 cruisers, 9 gunboats and 51 destroyers were launched. The implementation of the program for the construction of new battleships with a displacement of up to 10 thousand tons, armed with four 305 mm guns and twelve 152 mm guns, began. By the end of the reign of the emperor, the displacement of the Russian navy reached 300 thousand tons. The Russian fleet was now second only to the British and French.
In 1882, the sovereign approved the program for the construction of a strategic railway network. In the Russian state, a country of vast expanses, the railways were of great military-strategic and economic importance. They are "iron belts" the body of the empire in a single unit. An extensive network of railway communications allowed both pull troops to the front from the depths of the country, and maneuver them along the front line. Railways were of great importance in the supply of troops with all necessary. Railways contributed to the growth of heavy industry, engineering, development of trade and the economy as a whole. In the 1880-s, the construction of the Transcaucasian road was completed. Then they built the Transcaspian line, which in 1890-s continued to Tashkent and Kushka. The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway began. Over the 13 years of the Peacemaker’s reign, the rail network in Russia has increased by almost 10 thousand miles (from 21 229 to 31 219). The railways were now predominantly state built. Partial nationalization of the railways was carried out - by the end of the century, only 44 remained from 6 private companies. The share of the state in the railways has become predominant. Railways have ceased to be unprofitable for the state and began to make a profit.
Great progress was made in the development of industry. This technical revolution occurred in metallurgy. The production of steel, iron, oil and coal grew at a record pace. The Russian government returned to protectionist policies that were carried out under Nicholas I. During the 1880s. several times increased import duties. Since 1891, a new system of customs tariffs has been introduced, the highest in the previous few decades. For most types of imported goods, duties in the amount of 25-30% were introduced, and for some product groups, such as luxury goods, up to 70%. This contributed not only to the growth of industry, but also to the improvement of the foreign trade balance and the strengthening of the state’s financial system. It was a real “Russian miracle”, which is usually forgotten, being carried away by the exposure of the “reactionary regime” of Alexander III, in just a decade (1887 — 1897) industrial production in Russia was doubled.
Significantly improved the state of public finances. They were favorably acted on the protectionism of the government and the rapid development of industry. In addition, the increase in public debt was slowed down, the share of the state budget, which was spent on servicing the public debt, decreased. They introduced a state monopoly on the trade in alcoholic beverages. Preparations began for the introduction of the gold ruble, the reform was carried out after the death of the emperor-hero. The capitation tax was abolished, which improved the condition of people. Treasury tried to replenish through indirect taxes. The emperor has taken measures to combat corruption. A ban has been imposed on officials to participate in the boards of private joint-stock companies and a number of other restrictions. The emperor tried to limit the appetites of the imperial family, the court.
In the field of foreign policy, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich was free from any external influences. It was a real autocrat. Russia did not get involved in any war, Russian soldiers did not die for the interests of others. The sovereign believed that Russia had no need to look for friends in Western Europe and get into European affairs. The words of Tsar Alexander, which have already become winged, are well known: “All over the world we have only two faithful allies — our army and navy. All the rest, as soon as possible, will themselves turn against us. ” At the same time, Russia was strengthening its position in the Far East, in relations with China, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia.
On the vast expanse of Central Asia, a railway was laid that connected the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea with the center of the Russian Central Asian possessions - Samarkand and the Amu Darya River. It must be said that Emperor Alexander III persistently strove for full unification with all its suburbs with the indigenous territory of Russia. Therefore, the Caucasian governorship was abolished, the privileges of the Baltic Germans were destroyed. Foreigners, including Poles, were forbidden to acquire land in Western Russia, including in Belarus. In general, it should be noted the great role of the emperor in the "Russification" of the empire. He personally, by his example, imparted “Russianness” to the top of the state, which was struck by the virus of Westernism. The internal strengthening of Russia simultaneously led to the strengthening of its position on the world stage.
The emperor paid much attention to music, art, stories, was one of the founders of the Russian Historical Society and its chairman, was engaged in collecting collections of old objects and the restoration of historical monuments. Much attention was paid to the growth of education of ordinary people: the number of parochial schools on its board grew from 4 thousand to 31 thousand, more than 1 million children enrolled in them. The emperor was flawless in his personal life.
Application. Manifest text
We declare to all our faithful subjects:
God, in His inscrutable destinies, was pleased to complete the glorious Reign of our Beloved Parent with our martyr's death, and to entrust us with the Sacred Duty of the Autocratic Rule.
Obeying the will of Providence and the Law of the State's Heritage, We took this burden at the terrible hour of nationwide grief and horror, before the Face of the Most High God, believing that having predetermined the Power for us in such a difficult and difficult time, He would not leave us with His All-powerful Help. We also believe that the fervent prayers of a pious people, known throughout the world for their love and devotion to their Sovereigns, will attract the blessing of God upon Us and the work of the Government before us.
In the Bose, our late Parent, having received the autocratic power from God for the benefit of the people entrusted to Him, remained faithful to death by the vow He made and sealed His great ministry. Not so much by the strict dictates of the authorities, but by her goodness and meekness, He accomplished the greatest work of His Reign - the liberation of the serfs, having managed to attract the noble owners always obedient to the voice of kindness and honor; approved the Court in the Kingdom, and His subjects, of which he made all without distinction forever free, called for the administration of the affairs of the local government and the public economy. May his memory be blessed forever!
The low and evil murder of the Russian Sovereign, in the midst of the faithful people, ready to lay down his life for him, unworthy monsters of the people, is a terrible, shameful thing, unheard of in Russia, and darkened the whole earth with our sorrow and horror.
But in the midst of our great sorrow, the Voice of God commands us to become vigorously in the cause of the Board in relying on Divine Providence, with faith in the power and truth of the Autocratic Power, which We are called to assert and protect for the good of the people from all encroachments on it.
May the hearts of the faithful Our subjects, all those who love the Fatherland and the devotees from the clan to the Hereditary Royal Power, be emboldened and confused and confused and horrified. Under her companion and in her inseparable union, our land experienced more than once great troubles and came into force and glory in the midst of severe trials and disasters, with faith in God arranging its destinies.
Devoting Himself to Our great ministry, We call upon all our faithful subjects to serve Us and the State faithfully and faithfully, to eradicate the vile seditions that dishonor the Russian land, to assert faith and morality, to the good education of children, to the destruction of untruth and theft, to the establishment of order and truth in the action of institutions bestowed on Russia by its Benefactor, Our Beloved Parent.
It is given in St. Petersburg, on the 29-th day of April, in the summer of the Nativity one thousand eight hundred and eighty-first, Our Reign in the first.