The statutes were signed by Alexander II on 19 February, 1861. So began the most dangerous moment of the emancipation. “The state itself was no stranger,” wrote the Minister of War, “to the uneasy expectation of the moment when the bridle was suddenly dropped from many millions of working people.”1 The disappointment of high expectations is the ideal breeding ground for insurrection, and the state was fully aware that its project for emancipation was substantially different than what the peasants hoped. But the sudden release of peasant energies was not the only source of state fears:

[B]eneath the so-called peasant emancipation there lurked something still more fundamental and somehow different, the liberation not only of “serfs” but of each and every individual personality. … It is curious that no one at that time remained fully satisfied with the emancipation edict. Those who dreamt of a better life were dissatisfied by too many concessions “to the old ways.” Serfowners found it “extremely radical.” Peasants regarded it with skeptical bewilderment. But one thing was clear to everyone. The business was, for better or for worse, done, and done irreversibly. Now it came down to only one thing, to fix one’s attention on the matter of how the old order was to be liquidated and to concentrate all strength on protecting one’s own interests.2