The monument pictured above is in dedication to the emancipation of the serfs. Serfdom in Russia was the equivalent to slavery in the Americas at the time and the admittance of emancipation to the serfs, Russia was changing its social course. The monument is a dedication to Russia trying to move to a more modernized state with its reform. On paper, the reform seemed to be like a great step forward for society. The reform allowed for the serfs to be free from their lord and have ability to live a life with the ability to move up to a status of peasant. Government officials saw this emancipation as being a way to move to a more industrialized state like other western European nations at the time. There was, however; a flaw within the plan for reform of social structure for serfs. Before emancipation serfs were tied not only to their lords, but the land they worked as well. The declaration of emancipation only freed serfs from their loyalty to their lord. Ultimately, these serfs were still bound to the land prohibiting them from moving to a more urban area for work. The plan for furthering into an industrial state was hard to achieve given that all the possible workers were bound to rural land. This may seem to have been a troubling problem for the serfs, but in the bigger scheme of things it stunted the growth of Russia. Western European nations and the United States had already been through their industrial revolution meaning that Russia was a step behind their competitors. The reform stunted the economic growth that Russia may have received from allowing serfs to move to cities for factory work. On top of hurting the economic prospering of Russia, the people of Russia were at odds with the emancipation. Serfs felt as though they received little from the emancipation for the fact that they felt the land they worked as serfs was theirs to begin with. The nobles feared that with the serfs freedom from lords ‘police power’ more civil and political rights would be demanded by the serfs. Nobles feared the reform and serfs despised the reform. The monument in the picture above does represent the steps forward that Russia was attempting to take socially and economically, but it also signifies that consequences that became of the reform. The Emancipation of Serfs Monument is a symbol of Russia’s first steps into becoming the nation we know today.
Title of Photograph: Monument to the Emancipation of Serfs
Photographer: Prokudin-Gorskii, Sergei Mikhailovich, 1863-1944
Permanent Link: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/prok/item/prk2000000721/