Who was Alexander II of Russia?

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Tsar Alexander II was the ruler of Russia from 1855 to 1881.  He is best remembered for the fact that he was the Tsar who ended serfdom in Russia.  He was assassinated in 1881 by revolutionaries who used bombs to kill him.

Alexander II was one of many leaders of Russia who tried to modernize the country.  His liberation of the serfs was the most dramatic single part of this effort.  Alexander II also tried to introduce more democracy into Russia.  For example, he set up local governments that were elected and gave them a great deal of power over their areas.  He also introduced legal reforms like trial by jury.

Alexander II did not always believe in liberalization, though.  He was willing to crack down on political dissenters.  It is believed that treason trials that he instigated led to his death because they gave publicity to people who were upset with his rule and helped to radicalize a group of people who ended up assassinating him.

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