Topic: Alexander II
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 22 February, 2014
A new monument to Emperor Alexander II by the Russian sculptor Alexander Apollonov was unveiled today at the Pechersky Ascension Monastery in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.
The monument's inauguration marks the 400th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty, and in memory of a visit made to the monastery in 1858 by Emperor Alexander II and his wife, Empress Maria Alexandrovna.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 25 May, 2013
Photo credit: Peterhof State Museum Reserve
This beautiful paperweight from the Peterhof State Museum Reserve offers a portrait of Grand Duke Alexander Nicholayevich in baptismal clothes. The future Alexander II was born on 29th (O.S. 17th) April 1818 in the Moscow Kremlin. It is interesting to note that Alexander II and Peter I were the only Russian sovereigns native of Moscow. The sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation for the August baby were held in May 1818 at the cathedral at the Chudov Monastery in Moscow. A gala dinner marking this occasion was held by Alexander’s paternal grandmother Empress Maria Feodorovna. The memory of those happy days is preserved in this paperweight. The image of the baby Alexander is set in a gold frame and mounted on a malachite base. The future "Tsar Liberator" is presented as a pretty blue-eyed baby in a bonnet and smock. The object was bequeathed by Maria Feodorovna to her "beloved daughter-in-law Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, the mother of Alexander II. This beautiful family heirloom, a deeply personal item at that, somehow survived all the vicissitudes of history, and survived to this day.
The paperweight is currently on display in the Treasury at Peterhof, along with the carrying basket and baptismal clothes of Alexander II. This unique museum houses new acquisitions including jewellery, costumes (dresses and uniforms), personal items of the Russian emperors and their families, from Peter I to Nicholas II. The treasures in this museum are housed in the former private apartments of Catherine the Great and updated on a regular basis.
© Paul Gilbert @ Royal Russia. 21 May, 2013
A little-known friendship between Russia’s Tsar Alexander II and US President Abraham Lincoln in the mid-1800s came to light in a documentary shown in the United States for the first time Monday evening at the Library of Congress in Washington, and organizers of the event hope it can serve as a model for US-Russian relations today.
“This film ought to be in the schools. American children should know what a marvelous history we share with the Russians, and they don’t,” said former US Rep. James Symington, chairman of the nonprofit American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation(A-RCCF), which arranged the screening of “The Tsar and the President: Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln, Liberator and Emancipator.”
As for the US administration, Symington said, “I don’t think they even understand Russia as well as they should because Russia is our friend, basically, through the ages, and that’s never been looked at.”
“It’s really hard to build a future when we don’t have historic perspective, and the truth is that Russia at the time of the US Civil War was the only friend of the United States. The US had absolutely no one who was on their side, so Russia was the only one,” said A-RCCF Executive Director Alexander Potemkin in an interview with RIA Novosti.
“In showing this film my hope and I think the hope of our board is that we can remember this and build on these positive things,” he added.
The 25-minute documentary, produced in Russian with English subtitles, explores a warm and cordial correspondence between Tsar Alexander II, the heir-apparent to the throne who enjoyed a privileged life from his earliest years, and Abraham Lincoln, the second child of a poor family who lived in a one-room log cabin, a self-educated lawyer who rose to power through political office.
During his reign, Alexander II wrote a series of letters to American presidents, but it was the exchange with Lincoln that reveals a personal friendship reflected in political actions that came at a crucial time for the United States.
“These were warm, friendly, familial letters between the two, not at all political, one announcing the birth of a grand duke in the family. It was all very warm, ending with ‘Wishing you great success,’ and ‘God’s love on your country,’” said Marilyn Pfeifer Swezey, a guest curator for A-RCCF who produced the US version of the 2009 exhibition entitled “The Tsar and the President,” a collection of more than 200 documents, photos and letters that form the basis for the film.
The exhibit opened in Russia in 2011, and the film debuted there. Organizers hope to show it in New Jersey and say they have also received interest from the Reagan Library in California.
Though the two men never met, and came from vastly different backgrounds, there are odd similarities. Both freed slaves in their respective countries, Alexander II with a manifesto that abolished serfdom, signed in 1861, and Lincoln with the Emancipation Proclamation, issued in 1862 and signed in 1863. And both were later assassinated.
With the United States in the throes of a debilitating civil war, “Russia was the only European country that supported the cause of the union (the North). Russia was asked, Alexander II was approached by England and France to join them in supporting the South, the confederacy, and he refused,” Swezey said.
Months later, in September of 1863, shortly after the North had lost several bloody battles, two Russian Navy squadrons arrived in America. They served as a symbol to the South and its allies that there was a barrier for any ships sent to support the confederacy.
“When the Russian fleet arrived in New York and several months later in San Francisco, Lincoln and all the officials in Washington were overwhelmed and said ‘Thank God for the Russians.’ They received the news as a powerful sign of support,” said Swezey.
“Russian-American relations right now are not very good and it’s really important to point out how close and friendly they were in the past. Maybe we should think differently about Russia, and we should think again about the fact that Russia really was a great friend in the past and I would think would be again a great friend,” she added.
© RIA Novosti. 18 April, 2013
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