and Political Movements in the Second Half
of the Nineteenth Century
Following the Crimean War the Russian public, particularly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, was in ferment. The thunder of the cannons of Sevastopol awakened the slumbering Russian empire; the Crimean catastrophe gave rise to general dissatisfaction with the government and to the recognition of the necessity for radical reform of the political and social order. The abolition of serfdom in 1861, however, did not pacify the public agitation. The reform led to dissatisfaction among the conservatives and to complete disillusionment within the radical intelligentsia. Senselessly brutal suppressions of several alleged peasant uprisings, particularly the shooting of peasants in the village of Bezdna, provoked the first series of antigovernment demonstrations in Petersburg.
But the great majority of the peasants, whom the arbitrators conscientiously helped to understand the new order and to regulate their relationship with the former landlords, remained quiet during the reign of Alexander II. All the appeals for an uprising of the peasantry made by revolutionary intellectuals in the 1870s remained unanswered. The common belief that the revolutionary movement in Russia began only as an answer to the reactionary policy of the government does not correspondent to the facts. For the revolutionary movement among the intelligentsia began precisely at the height of the liberal reforms, in the period between the emancipation of peasants and the introduction of zemstvo and judicial reforms in 1864. The first attempt upon the life of Alexander took place as early as 1866 and,