From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

Battle of Fredericksburg

Does history record any event equal to this one in the number of persons set free?

Only one. We often forget that Russian and American events paralleled each other, at least in some ways, during the Civil War years. In March 1861, the same month that Lincoln delivered his first Inaugural Address, Czar Alexander II signed a special ukase (imperial order) that freed almost twenty-five million Russian serfs. Like the Emancipation Proclamation, the Czar’s order had conditions. There were long periods during which the emancipated serfs had to work the farmlands of their former owners to recompense them for the financial loss. But if one puts the two events together, little doubt exists that the 1860s witnessed the largest liberation of persons yet seen in the Western world.


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