Alexander III - DBQ

By Kevin Nguyen

Source A:
1, How does Tolstoy argue that the assassins of Alexander II should be pardoned?
Tolstoy argues that there are only three or four people carried out the assassination of Alexander but the number of people, who would go against Tsar Alexander III, might increase if Alexander III still keeps spending time searching for his father’s assassins. Tolstoy states that “ you [Alexander III] will sink for ever into that service of evil, called the Interest of the State…”. Tolstoy is saying that his life would turn out unworthy if he kept a needle in a haystack. Tolstoy does not feel sorry for Alexander II’s assassins but also Alexander III. If Alexander III dedicates his whole life searching for Alexander II’s assassins, his life will turn out worthless.
  • if Alexander III just forgave his father’s assassins, the revolutions and opposition groups will melt away. That’s what Tolstoy is arguing

E: EASTERN ORTHODOXY. One religion (only one true god). (Religious factor)
A: Autocracy: 1 ruler over the Russians – the Tsar (Political factor)
R: Russification forced Russian culture upon everybody. (Social factor)
There are many nationalities, ethnicities à the separation between the groups within Russia. Russification’s idea is to make all the people become Russian. To a large extent, the whole Russian Empire will be RUSSIAN.
Counter-reform is similar to reaction.
2, Do you agree that this would have been the best course of action?
It will be worth more unless he dedicates his life following and strengthening the great reforms, or adjusting and changing the country for the better. It’s definitely worth more than spending his life on throne finding his father’s, Alexander II, assassins.
Source B
1, How does Alexander III praise his father?
Alexander III uses a lot of flowery and precious words for his father, Alexander II; for example, “the glorious reign of Our beloved father”, or “goodness and kindness, which are also attributes of power”, etc. Alexander III also flashes back his father [Alexander II] some of his greatest reforms such as the emancipation of serfs, or establishment of “Justice in the Realm”. Alexander III basically describes the positive side of his father’s greatest reform but does not mention the negative results of the reform. Alexander III puts good words for his father because his implication was to maintain and strengthen the Russian Autocracy.
2, How does he nevertheless make it clear that he intends holding on to all his power?
In the “Manifesto of Unshakable Autocracy” Alexander III says “But in the midst of Our great grief, the voice orders Us courageously to undertake, in deference to Divine intention, the task of ruling, with faith in the strength and rightness [istina] of autocratic power.” According to this quote, Alexander III seems to be a Slavophile who desires a strong Autocracy.
Source C
1, Summarize Pobedonostev’s main arguments against democracy. Support each idea with a relevant quote.
*democracy is a field for people who are manipulators (power hunger).
*Mr.P says that statesmen should be nobility because they are influential and well-educated.
MODERNIZATION: peasants need to modernize their farms; for example, changing the idea of farming, better equipments, and chemicals for agriculture (pesticide, fertilize), irrigation system.
Old Russian agriculture used to have a strip farming (very narrow line field) à backwardness of agriculture. (you need to rotate crop so that the crop will not be out of nutrients à due to science, western ideas)
*Subsistence farming: farming for a reason to live. Lucrative farming (western agricultural idea) you farm to make profit.
- Pobedonostsev thinks that democracy is used to trick people into believing they have power, “the real rulers are the dexterous manipulators of votes, with their placemen, the mechanics who so skillfully operate hidden springs which move the puppet”.
- Pobedonostev believes that the extension of right to participate in the election just humiliates the whole political system. Quote: “The history of mankind bears witness that the most necessary and fruitful reforms - the most durable measures – emanated from the supreme will of statesmen, or from a minority enlightened by lofty ideas and deep knowledge, and that, on the contrary, the extension of the representative principle is accompanied by an abasement of political ideas and vulgarization of opinions in the mass of the electors.”
2, Does his argument improve your opinion of Alexander’s reactionary policies? Explain your answer.
Pobedonostev’s argument helps me to improve why Alexander III came up with the reactionary policies. The argument proves Pobedonostev and Alexander III are Slavophiles; since the democracy is an idea from the West, Alexander III wants to reject the idea of Democracy and argues that it does not fit the Russian Empire well. 75% of the population in Russia was peasants and serfs; they have never practiced Democracy or any kind of sovereign states so that they are easily convinced by the argument that Alexander III and his assistants prove to them.
Source D
1, Summarize Pobedonostev’s main arguments against education. Support each idea with a relevant quote.
Spending time studying is unworthy and useless; it’s more important to do work physically rather than studying at school. Quote: “For such work, physical training is needed from the earliest age”. Pobedonostev is arguing that people have to focus on their fields of working and training so that they can be perfect at it in the future and will be facing no more famine or starvation. Quote: “To the agriculturist it is even more essential that he shall become accustomed to his future work that he may learn to love it in childhood, in the presence of nature, beside his herds and his plough, in the midst of his fields and his meadows.” Pobedonovstev also discusses that education is time consuming and money wasting so that it affects people’s wealth and further State’s economy. Quote “ But few reflect that by tearing the child from the domestic hearth for such a lofty destiny, the deprive his parent a productive force which is essential to the maintenance of home, while by raising before his eyes the mirage of illusory learning they corrupt his mind, and subject it to the temptations of vanity and conceit.”
2, Does his argument improve your opinion of Alexander’s reactionary policies? Explain your answer.
After Alexander II’s assassination, serfs, peasants and other classes suffer a significant and financial debt. Lands are overcharged; peasants don’t have enough money to pay once so they are in debt and lack of food (due to the small benefits made from cultivating the land). Pobedonostev says that if people focus on working and ignore education, problem will be solved. People probably don’t understand the value of being educated so that the argument easily convinces them. It’s quite reasonable to understand Alexander’s reactionary policies under Alexander III’s reign.
Source E
1, What were the main aims and results of the “May Laws”?
The aims of May Laws were to disallow Jews from working in the civil service and systematically expel them from towns and villages where they have lives almost a century. Pobedonovstev aimed to kill one-third of the Jews, flee one-third of them to the country and convert the other one-third. The result of May Laws was an increase number of Jews immigrated to other countries such as Great Britain (200,000 Jews) and Canada (100,000 Jews).
2, Does this information change your opinion of Pobedonostsev? Explain your answer
It does not change my opinion of Pobedonostsev, on the contrary, it strengthens and proves that Pobedonostsev is an extreme Slavophile, who has a lot of influence on Alexander III and his reactionary policies. Pobedonoststev has a different school of thought compared to Alexander II, for example. Pobedonostsev seems to find the best to fit Russia without adopting Western ideas like Alexander II does.
Source F
2, Did the famine lead to more reaction, or to more reform?
The famine led to a reaction rather than a reform. Basically, all the policies came after the famine in order to help the famine victims. All the actions and policies of the government just reacted to the famine, or in other words it is a short term reaction in order to prevent the corruption of the economy as well as a bottom-up revolution.
Source G
1, Why was the Tsar embarrassed by the success of the Zemstva in dealing with the crisis?
As the head of the government and head of the Orthodox church, Tsar probably felt embarrassed because the Zemstva was able to deal with the crisis pretty well (better than the Tsar and his assistants). People voted for the delegates in the Zemstva so that it indicates the democracy (right to vote). As a result, people might go for democracy rather than Slavophiles of the Tsar.