Alexander III (from Robinson and Beard)

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Source: James Harvey Robinson and Charles Beard, History of Europe (Boston: Ginn & Co., 1921), pp. 415-16.

This is an excerpt from Robinson and Beard's classic history textbook of 1921.

747. Reaction under Alexander III.
While the body of the murdered Tsar, Alexander II, was still lying in state, the executive committee of the revolutionists issued a warning to his son and successor, Alexander III, threatening him with the evils to come if he did not yield to their demand for representative government, freedom of speech and of the press, and the right to meet for the discussion of political questions. The new Tsar was not, however, moved by the appeal, and the police redoubled their activity. The plans of reform were repudiated, and the autocracy settled back into its usual despotic habits. The terrorists realized that, for the time being, they had nothing to gain by further acts of violence, which would only serve to strengthen the government they were fighting. It was clear that the people at large were not yet ready for a revolution.

The reign of Alexander III (1881‑1894) was a period of quiet, during which little progress seemed to be made. The people suffered the oppression of the government officials without active opposition. Their occasional protests were answered by imprisonment, flogging, or exile, for Alexander III and his intimate advisers believed quite as firmly and religiously in autocracy as Nicholas I had done. Freedom and liberalism, they agreed, could only serve to destroy a nation. All ideas of democracy which had produced revolutions in western Europe must be kept out at all cost.