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Reforms Under Czar Alexander I: French and American Influences


The two great revolutions of the eighteenth century—the American and the French had each in turn and in its own way a profound influence not only on the history of the United States and of France, but directly or indirectly on the history of the whole world.

These two powerful currents had a common source in the French ideological movement before the Revolution. The development of American revolutionary thought was of course more closely linked to the English ideology, but there was much contact and cross influence between the English and the French philosophers. Further, the French political and philosophical literature was directly accessible to Americans without intermediary English works. We have only to mention Montesquieu and his principle of the separation of powers which serves as the basis of the Constitution of the United States. Also, the American Revolution influenced in turn political developments in France. One finds the roots of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen not only in France but in America as well.

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1 For the texts of the Declarations of Rights, cf. Aulard A. and Mirkine-Guetzévitch B., Les Declarations des Droits de l'Homme (Paris, 1929).

2 Mirkine-Guetzévitch B., “L'influence de la Revolution française sur le development du droit international dans l'Europe Orientale,” Académie de droit international, Recueil des Cours, Tome 22 (Paris, 1929).

3 For a survey of the history of the reign of Alexander I, see Kornilov A., Modern Russian History (New York, 1924; reprinted 1942), Part I; Milioukov P., Seignobos Ch. and Eisenmann L., Histoire de Russie, vol. II (Paris, 1932), Ch. XIV. Vernadsky G., Political and Diplomatic History of Russia (Boston, 1936), Chapters XXII and XXIII.

4 Semennikov V. P., Radishchev (Petrograd, 1923), pp. 180194 (in Russian); Vernadsky G., “Un projet de Declaration des droits de l'homme et du citoyen en Russie en 1801,” Revue hisiorique de Droit français et etranger (1925), pp. 436445.

5 Nolde B., “L'autocratie russe et la doctrine de la separation des pouvoirs dans la première moitié du XIX siècle,” Revue du Droit public, Janvier-Fevrier-Mars 1924.

6 Hans N., History of Russian Educational Policy (London, 1931), Ch. II.

7 On the Speransky plan see: Speransky's Constitutional Project (Moscou, 1905)(in Russian); B. Nolde, “L'autocratie russe”; Fateev A., “La constitution russe de 1809,” Bulletin de l'Association russe pour les recherches scientifiques à Prague, Vol. II(VII), n°. 7 (1935).

8 Frederiksen O. J., “Virginia Tobacco in Russia under Peter the Great,” Slavonic and East European Review, XXI (19421943), pp. 4056.

9 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Memorial Edition, XI, 103, 106, 291; XII, 395); cf. also Kozlovsky V. M., “The Emperor Alexander I and Jefferson,” Russkaia Mysl, October, 1910 (in Russian). Kozlovsky studied Jefferson's manuscript in trie archives of the State Department in Washington.

10 Cf. Pilder H., Die Russisch-amerikanische Handels-Kompanie bis 1825 (Berlin and Liepzig, 1914); Okun S. B., The Russo-American Company (in Russian) (Moscow and Leningrad, 1939); Mazour A. G., “Dmitry Zavalishin: Dreamer of a Russian-American Empire,” Pacific Historical Review, March, 1936; ibid., “Doctor Yegor Scheffer: Dreamer of a Russian Empire in the Pacific,” Pacific Historical Review, March, 1937; ibid., “Khlebnikov's Memoirs of California,” Pacific Historical Review, Sept., 1940; ibid., “The Prelude to Russia's Departure from America,” Pacific Historical Review, Sept., 1941; Basanoff V., “Archives of the Russian Church in Alaska in the Library of Congress,” Pacific Historical Review, March, 1933.

11 Cf.Vernadsky G., La Charte Constitutionelle de l'Empire Russe de l'an 1820 (Paris, 1933).

12 See Mirkin-Guetzévitch B., “A Russian project of international organization of Europe in 1804,” Recueil Miliukov (Prague, 1929), pp. 435449 (in Russian); Id., “Un projet de fédération européenne en 1804,“ Mélanges Nicolas lorga (Paris, 1933), pp. 677694.

13 For a recent outline of the Decembrist movement see Mazour A. G., The First Russian Revolution, 1825: the Decembrist Movement (Berkeley, California, 1937).

14 The term pravda, which means “truth” in modern Russian, was used by Pestel in the sense it had in old Russian jurisprudence, that of “law.” The Kievan code of laws of the twelfth century is known as Pravda Russkaia—“Lex Russica.”

15 See Vernadsky G., La Charle Constitutionelle, pp. 50 and 5661.

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The Review of Politics
  • ISSN: 0034-6705
  • EISSN: 1748-6858
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