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Economic activity of immigrants in the Russian Far East: the second half the XIX beginning of the XX century

o. A. Vasilchenko


Article is devoted to questions of the organization of economic activity of peasants immigrants in the Far East of the Russian Empire. The author in detail characterizes actions of the state in the economic and legal sphere, analyzes features of various forms of work of immigrants. Special attention is paid to issues of land use in the Far East region.

O. Vasilchenko


The issues of the organization of the economic activities of migrant peasants in the Far East of the Russian Empire are discussed and a detailed description of the state activities in the economic and legal sphere is given alongside with an analysis of the distinctive features of different forms of migrants& economic activities. A special attention is paid to the issues of land tenure in the Far Eastern region.

An essential obstacle for social and economic development of the modern Far East is the shortage of the population in the region. In this regard special

the role is got by development of fundamentals of policy of the state on involvement of the population and the organization of its activity in the east of the country.

For achievement of this purpose it is necessary to address the existing historical experience.

Peasants immigrants from various provinces of the Russian Empire took active part in settling and development of the Russian Far East in the second half of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century. They lodged families with the purpose of permanent residence in this region.

The organization of land tenure as peasants went to the East first of all behind the earth became the main direction of policy of the state on the economic device of the moved country families. The attractive feature which defined a land use order in the Priamurye region was the lack of landowner land tenure.

The first act which fixed a land tenure order on east outskirts the position of the Siberian Committee "About Rules for the Settlement of Russians and Foreigners in the Amur and Seaside Regions of Eastern Siberia" approved on March 26, 1861 became most high [4, page 48].

On the basis of this situation each resettlement family could receive 100 tithes of the earth which were given in free use for 20 years on condition of processing within 5 years.

The law of March 26, 1861 also provided a possibility of repayment of land grounds in a private property, but country families and societies did not use this right. They preferred to own the land plots on the rights of use. So, for January 1, 1891 in the Amur region there were only 292 private owners of land, in Seaside area — 14.

In 1900 in the Priamurye region in communal use there were 3,546,909 tithes of the earth that made 95.4% of all used land grounds of the region.

Thus, in the Russian Far East the institute of private land property actually was not developed.

Experience of development of the region showed that small land tenure most corresponded to local conditions of managing and promoted the fastest economic adaptation of the population. The small land owner developed the land gradually. Large land tenure demanded big costs of cleaning of the earth of a taiga which paid off not at once.

The prevalence of a communal form of land use among peasants promoted that pastures for the cattle and the timberland in all communities were in unseparable wordly use. In practice occurred so that country families and societies, having lodged in places, deaf and remote from the administrative centers, actually were not limited in sizes of allotments. 100 tithe plots allocated to family were exceeded. So-called "small settlements" of certain householders became widespread. These land plots were actually occupied country families and always exceeded possibilities of families on their processing. Often owners had two-three such small settlements reaching the sizes in 200-300 tithes.

Practice of investment with the earth of immigrants changed at the beginning of the 20th century that was connected with increase in their inflow.

On the basis of the position of Committee of the Siberian railroad "About Formation of Resettlement Sites in the Amur and Seaside Regions" [1] which is Most highly approved on June 22, 1900 the resettlement families lost the right to receive 100 tithes. Since January 1, 1901 the investment with the earth of peasants was carried out at the rate of 15 tithes of the comfortable earth on male soul, including forest spaces.

The families of new settlers which arrived to east outskirts of the Russian Empire after enforcement of this law appeared in less favorable conditions in comparison with old residents.

For investment of newly arrived country families with the earth the authorities made the decision on use of 10 million tithes of the earth which are earlier allocated by the former Priamurye governor general for Dukhov-sky Amur and Ussuriysk Cossack troops. The decision contained in the special magazine of Council of ministers "About measures to the device in Seaside area of immigrants of 1907" [11], Most highly approved on August 11, 1907

The main buyers of bread farmers had the Defense Ministry, gold industry entrepreneurs and urban population. For example, in 1887 in the Amur region from the sold 480 thousand poods of bread nearly a half (237,394 poods) intended for supply of the cities.

Having provided country families with the earth, the Tsar's administration made a number of the legislative decisions directed to increase in financial support by it at the expense of privileges and loans. So, the decision of the State Council "On some changes in rules and privileges to immigrants in the Priamurye region" was made on January 26, 1882 [5] in which it was provided: release of immigrants from territorial duties (monetary and natural) for three years; providing with food all members of the moved families for one and a half years; release of families of immigrants from payment of all taxes and duties (except public) within the first five years.

On July 13, 1889 the law "About Voluntary Resettlement of Rural Inhabitants and Petty Bourgeoises on State Lands and about an Order of Transfer of Faces of the Marked Estates Which Moved in Former Time" [6] in which the system of privileges was expanded was approved. The law contained the provision on release of peasants from payment kazen-

ny collecting for three years. In the next three years the immigrants paid only 50% of the put sum of collecting. New settlers had the right to seed loans.

On June 18, 1892 Most highly approved opinion of the State Council "About extension of effect of the rules concerning resettlement of Russians and foreigners in the Amur and Seaside regions about changes and additions of these rules" was accepted [7]. New privileges for families of immigrants and walkers were provided in it: at settlement — release from state payments and the territorial money dues for five years; within the next five years — taxation in a half size; write-off from immigrants of shortages in state collecting.

For support of families of peasants new settlers by authorities money advances were actively used. So, "Provisional rules about voluntary resettlement of rural inhabitants and petty bourgeoises of farmers on state lands" were issued on June 6, 1904 [8] which provided allocation of a loan up to 200 rubles for the economic device of family of the immigrant.

The circular of Head department land management and agriculture of April 2, 1908 explained the bases and an order of issue of loans to No. 22. In this document the position of state authorities on a problem of the help to new settlers sounded as follows: "... the center of gravity at acquisition of immigrants by farms on the new place has to lie in their independence, and not in government grants at all" [9, page 382].

According to the circular the immigrants received 150 rubles on family in the first year after settlement. The next year the loans intended to only especially needing peasants of no more than 50 rubles on one family.

Soon rules of issue of loans changed again that found reflection in the law adopted on July 5, 1912 "About change

rules of issue of loans for the economic device of immigrants" [12].

For the Priamurye region the amount of the maximum loan was 400 rubles on family. A half of a loan was given to family of immigrants at once. The family received the second part of a loan only after officials on places made sure of target expenditure of its first half (on acquisition by economy). Authorities were granted the right a part of a loan (no more its half) to turn into an irrevocable grant.

To the resettlement families which arrived to own means loans for a period of 33 years were issued. The first five years immigrants used a loan without payment of percent. Further they paid annually 6% of the received sum.

Families of immigrants were exempted from payment of percent for delay of payments. This situation was fixed in 1887. Most high the approved opinion of the State Council "About expenses and measures for resettlement to Southern Ussuri Krai" [9, page 1186].

The privileges and loans allocated by the Tsar's administration allowed resettlement families to provide only the minimum requirements. On all the rest they had to earn independently. Therefore on places the power structures sought to create conditions for development of independence and enterprise of families, to support their initiative in life support.

Rendering assistance to country families in economic adaptation, the local administration took measures to that in country work farm vehicles of foreign production which successfully approached soil conditions of the Priamurye region began to be used actively. The American and German plows, harvesters, threshers became widespread. For example, in 1901 in the Amur region only firm

American Emery sold to peasants of agricultural machinery on 300 thousand rubles [2, page 48].

Owing to difficulty in delivery of the Russian goods to the Far East region the authorities allowed duty-free trade in foreign goods. At the same time the aim to improve providing resettlement families with all necessary was pursued.

In the Far East agriculture was not the only occupation of peasants. If families settled in agricultural areas, then they continued to be engaged in agricultural activity. In northern areas where agriculture was complicated, the resettlement families passed to classes with hunting, fishery and other crafts.

Nonagricultural livelihoods of country families were more favorable for the reasons of profitability and smaller expenses of physical forces.

The main objects of fishery were the humpback salmon and a Siberian salmon. Fish was prepared for food, for sale to industrialists, military units and in the cities. It was salted, smoked, dried, used for a forage to dogs and a livestock. There were cases when families of new settlers began to catch fish earlier, than started agriculture and the structure of economy on the new residence.

The advantage of this trade is demonstrated by the facts. So, in 1891 the peasants of the Amur region caught 11,010 poods of fish for the sum of 21,070 rub, by Cossacks — 85,236 poods for the sum of 137,170 rub. In 1896 the most enterprising immigrants in Ussuri Krai prepared up to 200 poods of fish on family. Having sold it in the winter, each family received about 450 rub

An environment of the Far East region contributed to the development of hunting. Immigrants got a fur animal, a bird, prepared cervine punts that brought good income. So, in 1896 in Ussu-

riysky edge income from hunting averaged during the winter 200 rub on one family.

Huge forests promoted emergence in the Far East of logging crafts. Sawing up of the wood, preparation of firewood for steamships and the cities gave additional earnings to families of peasants and Cossacks. For example, in 1896 the peasants of the Amur region earned 26,000 rub from sale of the wood, and Cossacks — 50,000 rub

Broad development was gained by a smolokureniye, a tar race, charcoal production, preparation of barrels for salting fish and other small crafts connected with the wood. So, in 1896 in the Amur region the production of pitch brought to country families income in 3000 rub

In the Priamurye region there was one more livelihood of country and Cossack families - it is carrying. It became the main occupation for living near the cities. Supply of citizens with food and firewood, commercial transportations brought to family on average of net income 200-300 rub a year.

Considerable earnings were received by peasants from post chase. For example, in 1886 the income of families of Cossacks of the Amur army from the maintenance of stations and post chase was 155,826 rub, and peasants of the Amur region — 6500 rub

In the southern part of the Far East the beekeeping developed. This occupation was mastered by many families in Southern Ussuri Krai. Some of them held up to 300 beehives that brought revenue in several hundreds of rubles.

Among the families which moved to the Amur region from 1859 to 1912 there were natives of Russians (45.9%) and also Ukrainian (37.5%) and Belarusian (6.9%) provinces. In Seaside area, families of immigrants from the Ukrainian provinces prevailed. Among the families which arrived in Primorye from 1858 to 1914 they made 69.9%.

The first families of Ukrainians appeared in the Priamurye region in 1883, having arrived from Odessa to Vladivostok vessels of the Voluntary fleet.

For the purpose of economic arrangement substantial assistance according to the law of June 1, 1882 was provided to families of "sea" immigrants. "About kazennokoshtny resettlement to Southern Ussuri Krai" [10, page 216]. They were victualed 1.5 years, received allotments of land (no more than 100 tithes on family) with the right to redeem in property 3 rub for tithe. Families of Ukrainians received objects of economic appointment (28 names) and also seeds for field and garden crops. About 100 rubles for preparation of materials were allocated to each family for construction of the dwelling, on couple of horses (bulls) and one cow. Besides, families were exempted from the state taxes and duties for five years.

Families of the Belarusian immigrants appeared in the Russian Far East at the beginning of the 20th century. They were engaged in agriculture, seasonal works and cattle breeding.

Thus, characterizing public policy on the organization of economic life of the East Slavic population, it should be noted a number of important circumstances.

In activity of authorities the investment of country families with the earth was paramount. The administration coped with it quite as all had enough earth.

For assistance to families in places of installation the authorities resorted to the tested method — to granting to immigrants loans and privileges. This help was necessary for country families, but for arrangement it was obviously not enough. Therefore the state pursued the policy directed to activization of a personal initiative of the moved families.

In the social sphere the impact of public policy extended to social processes. Social problems of the moved families first of all came down to housing construction and to catering services.

The local administration did not interfere with economic construction works of country families. It provided families with the earth under estates and allocated them funds for acquisition of construction materials.

the Far East estates were spacious. For example, in the Amur region at the end of XIX — the beginning of the 20th century under estates cut on earth tithe.

Housing arrangement of peasants in the Far East considerably differed from what was habitual in the European part of Russia. Housing constructions were built by the natives of different regions of Russia who brought the various culture of housing construction on the Far East territory. The Russian resettlement families built srubny log huts, and Ukrainian — huts mud huts.

In process of adaptation of families to severe climatic conditions of residence in settlements of natives of Little Russia there were srubny houses which forced out pise-walled designs. However for a long time floors in these houses remained clay, roofs — straw.

The financial position of families of peasants and Cossacks had more noticeable impact on quality indicators of the dwelling. The poorest families used straw roofs in the houses. The rich covered houses and even barns with the American pleated iron that served as a criterion of prosperity of families.

In 1913 93% of families of old residents of the Amur region had wooden houses, from them under an iron roof — 30%. Among the Cossack families this indicator corresponded 82% and 17%. In large settlements, brick houses of prosperous starozhilchesky families were frequent.

The administration of the Far East held events for catering services of families of immigrants. For them the network of retail trading in food was created. Procurement of food abroad was conducted that considerably improved matters of immigrants.

The efficiency of policy of the state on the organization of activity of families was defined by extent of their fixing on the new place.

Process of adaptation there underwent not all families. Those from them which did not manage to adapt to accommodation conditions in rural areas were attributed to the cities or returned home. For example, from 1896 to 1912 in the Amur region there arrived 26,614 families (148,528 people), and 2182 families (10,485 people) left for the same period [3] that made 8% of total number.

On the basis of studying a large number of historical documents by the author the conclusion is drawn that at implementation of public policy on the organization of activity of immigrants in the Far East serious miscalculations were allowed:

>- massively the moving needy country families after 1900 were initially doomed to big return as economically weak families had a small amount of working hands and did not possess necessary money for economic arrangement. For example, in 1910 about 40% of immigrants were installed with the capital in 100 rub, and the device required not less than 600 rub. The small loans allocated by the state same year could not solve this problem. The average amount of a loan for one family in Seaside area was 103 rub, in Amur — 110 rub that obviously did not match the need of immigrants. This year the highest rate of the return immigrants is necessary;

>- the land plots allocated to immigrants were of little use to

agricultural activity (marshiness, mountainousness, etc.). For their use special knowledge of an agrotechnology was required, than new settlers did not possess. Therefore they threw lands and came back;

>- the principle of attachment of places of an exit of resettlement families to places of their settlement on the basis of the greatest similarity of conditions of accommodation and managing was broken. It complicated climatic and economic adaptation of new settlers and led to their return;

>- selection of arrival time of immigrants was unsuccessful. They were brought at the end of fall therefore they did not manage to make preparations for a successful wintering and were forced to return;

>- the absence of churches or their remoteness, shortage svya-

became the greatest disappointment of resettlement families

shchennik that complicated satisfaction of spiritual needs of new settlers;

- conditions in which there were moved families promoted natural selection. Strong families could organize activity in these conditions only relatively.

And still, despite shortcomings, the state realized the system of measures for fixing and adaptation of families in the Far East. It provided peasants with the earth, promoted stimulation of economic activity, carried out financial support, promoted strengthening of new social communications and the relations.

Thus, generalizing characteristic of public policy on the organization of activity of immigrants, it should be noted that it played a crucial role in development of the Far East, in development of its economic potential.


1. State Archive of the Russian Federation (SARF). T. 391. Op. 5. 562. L. 319 about, 321.
2. A.A. Kauffman. In new places (essays and traveling notes). 1901-1903. — SPb., 1905.
3. Review of agricultural colonization of the Amur region. — Blagoveshchensk, 1913.
4. PSZ. II. T. XXXVI. 1861. No. 36928.
5. PSZ. II. T. II. 1882. No. 633.
6. PSZ. III. T. IX. 1889. No. 6198.
7. PSZ. III. T. XII. 1892. No. 8755.
8. PSZ. III. T. XXIV. 1904. No. 24701.
9. The collection of laws and orders on land management (till June 1, 1908). — SPb., 1908.
10. The collection of legalizations and orders about resettlement. — SPb., 1901. Issue VIII.
11. The collection of the legalizations and orders of the Government published at the ruling Senate. — SPb., 1908. Sb. 36. No. 246.
12. The collection of the legalizations and orders of the government published at the ruling Senate. — SPb., 1912. Department 1. No. 1439.


1. Gosudarstvennyj arhiv Rossijskoj Federacii (GARF). F. 391. Op. 5. D. 562. L. 319 ob, 321.
2. Kaufman A. A. Po novym mestam (ocherki i putevye zametki). 1901-1903. — SPb., 1905.
3. Obzor zemledel&cheskoj kolonizacii Amurskoj oblasti. — Blagoveshchensk, 1913.
4. PSZ. II. T. XXXVI. 1861. No. 36928.
5. PSZ. II. T. II. 1882. No. 633.
6. PSZ. III. T. IX. 1889. No. 6198.
7. PSZ. III. T. XII. 1892. No. 8755.
8. PSZ. III. T. XXIV. 1904. No. 24701.
9. Sbornik zakonov i rasporjazhenij po zemleustrojstvu (po 1 ijunja 1908 g.). — SPb., 1908.
10. Sbornik uzakonenij i rasporjazhenij o pereselenii. — SPb., 1901. Vyp. VIII.


11. Bogshk ^акопепу 1 rasporjazhenij Rgau11e1&81^a, izdavaemyh rg1 pravitel&stvujushchem Bepa1e. — BR., 1908. B. 36. No. 246.
12. Bogshk of uzakonenij 1 rasporiazhenij pravite1&stva, izdavaemyh of is pravitegstvujushchem Senate. — BR., 1912. Otde1 1. No. 1439.
Michiels Emiel
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