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State: Russia

Lat/Long: 60.0000, 47.0000

Russia was fairly stable during Abraham Lincoln's lifetime, as the monarchical system of the empire, ruled over by tsars, reached the zenith of its power. Only three tsars ruled during the period, Alexander I (1801-1825), Nicholas I (1825-1855), and Alexander II (1855-1881). Alexander I's primary accomplishment was decisively repelling Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812, although he also conquered Finland from Sweden and Bessarabia from the Ottoman Empire. Despite Napoleon's defeat and Russia's distance from France, liberalism nonetheless made some headway into the empire, resulting in the Decemberist Revolt of 1825. Although the revolt was ostensibly in protest of Nicholas' rise to the throne, the Decembrists also sought the imposition of a constitutional monarchy. The revolt was defeated quickly, and Nicholas harshly oppressed and punished the Decembrists. Russia's gradual ascent was somewhat disrupted by its attempt to expand further into the Balkans, which led to the Crimean War of 1853. Facing an alliance of France, Britain, and the Ottoman Empire, Russia sued for peace in 1856, losing control of Bessarabia and guaranteeing the neutrality of the Black Sea. Arranging this peace was one of Alexander II's first acts as tsar, after which he primarily focused on domestic affairs. In 1861, he emancipated all Russian serfs in an attempt to modernize the empire's social structure and encourage industrialization.

Peter Oxley, Russia: From Tsars to Commissars (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Peter Kolchin, Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987); Orlando Figes, The Crimean War: A History (New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt, 2010), 408, 411-17.