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Tsar&rsquos Emancipation Manifesto proclaimed 150 years ago

February 19, 2011 - MOSCOW

C. Balaji

Russia observes the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Manifesto, which liberated millions of serfs. The manifesto, proclaimed by Tsar Alexander II on 19 Feb 1861, reportedly influenced United States President Abraham Lincoln's emancipation proclamation in 1863. The manifesto is seen as the first and most important of the liberal reforms introduced during Alexander II's reign. President Dmitriy Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin are expected at observances in Moscow. With the emancipation, serfs on private estates and household serfs were given the rights of free citizens. The manifesto stipulated that farm peasants would be able to buy land from their landlords. Household serfs, however, gained their freedom but no land -- one of several reasons emancipation did not solve the problem of peasant unrest. Russia's defeat in the Crimean War (Oct 1853 -; Feb 1856) is believed to have influenced the tsar's emancipation decision as it made him aware of his need for the serfs' support. The Manifesto was a watershed event in history as it set the tone for the future events in the United States and Russia. The two nations took ideologically divergent paths. The former adopted capitalism and liberalism and the latter adopted Marxism, setting the stage for the Cold War. Lincoln's proclamation, made during the height of US Civil War on 1 Jan 1863, freed the slaves of the Confederate states in rebellion against the Union. (WRITTEN NOV 2010) ARTICLE SUPPLIED BY NEWSAHEAD CORRESPONDENT C.BALAJI, WHO IS AVAILABLE FOR FREELANCE ASSIGNMENTS IN INDIA AND THE REGION. A FULLER VERSION OF THIS ADVANCE ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE FROM HIM ON REQUESTemail:

On Karl Marx, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War

Comparing the Emancipation Proclamation and the Russian Emancipation Manifesto (Magazine of History, Vol. 4, No. 1, The Reconstruction Era (Winter, 1989), pp. 56-59)

Abraham Lincoln, Russian Czar Focus of Bicentennial Exhibition. Relationship between the two leaders during US Civil War explored (

The Sources of Soviet Conduct (Foreign Affairs Jul 1947)

Kennan and Containment (US Department of State)

The American Civil War: Reaction to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation (Voice of America, 17 Mar 2005)

Date written/update: 2011-02-19