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Emancipation of the Serfs in Russia

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1077, pp. 183-84.

March 2, 1861


. . . . The power of the landowner over his

Page 184

individual peasants has become all but absolute. He cannot, it is true, sell their children, as the whites can do with their negroes in the Southern States of America. He cannot separate husband and wife. He has never yet sunk into the deep infamy of breeding slaves for sale. . . . But we cannot conclude these observations without adverting to the singular coincidence that on the 4th of March, the day after the emancipation of the serfs in Russia, Mr. Lincoln, the representative of the national will on the question of slavery in America, will be inaugurated as President of the United States. What an agreement, and yet what a contrast, is thus suggested by the East and by the West! In all parts of the world, and under every modification, forced servitude is felt to be a national curse wherever it is sanctioned. And where it has once struck its roots how difficult it is to eradicate it! Would that the prospects of President Lincoln were as bright as are those of the Emperor Alexander! The enormity with which the former has to deal is of deeper hue than that which is about to be crushed by the latter, and the struggle in the one case is proportionably fiercer than in the other; but, spite of all appearances to the contrary, spite of disruption, spite even of civil war, if civil war there should be, we believe that in America, as in Russia, the rights of humanity will in the end obtain recognition, and the world, both East and West, will be compelled to acknowledge that man can have no property in his fellow-man.

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