1855 - 1881 REIGN OF CZAR ALEXANDER II OF RUSSIA
Alexander became Czar after his father's death during the Crimean war. Although by no means a liberal, the disaster of the war and comparisons with the West prompted him to make certain changes which included revoking serfdom, establishing local councils (Zemstovs) and reforming the legal system in 1864). Alexander's rise to the throne gave hope to the Jewish population after the harsh policies of Nicholas I. Although he refused to do away with the Pale, he did abolish the forced abduction of Jews into the army and allowed Jewish merchants (for the first time) to temporarily live in Moscow.