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had been guilty of seduction, and three of incest. Among the
women, twenty-eight had murdered their husbands, six had
murdered illegitimate children, seventeen had murdered other
perscms, seven had committed arson, and one had committed
highway robbery.

"In the convict island of Sakhalin on January i, 1896, there were
6,703 hard-labor convicts, and 8433 released convicts and exiles; to
these must be added 1,323 women who followed their husbands, with
about 4,768 children ; and the free settlers, who numbered 3,838. There
were nearly 19,060 acres under culture (by 12,479 persons). The total
Russian population was 29,004; indigenes, 6,150. The actual expendi-



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330 ASIATIC RUSSIA

ture for the prisons reached in 1897 the sum of 13^14,578 rubles, of
which only 876,000 rubles were obtained through the work of pris'
oners and convicts."

In general it is only the criminals of most serious classes
who are sent to the far east. Formerly the mines of Trans-
baikalia, where their labor could be made profitable, were the
principal centers to which those sentenced to hard labor and
close confinement were sent, but latterly the Island of Sakhalin
has been the chief place where such are confined. Here there
are extensive coal mines which can be profitably worked
by convict labor; while the situation of the island is such
that it is doubly difficult for the convicts to escape.

It is due to the government also to say that the lugubrious
accounts given of the transportation of the prisoners to their
various places of destination are liable to give a false im-
pression from the omission of some of the most important
circumstances. Among these is the fact that the political
prisoners, except it may be in a few cases of an aggravated
character, are not chained but are for the most part trans-
ported in carriages as comfortable as those used by officers
in traveling; while the journeys of the ordinary prisoners are
made imder conditions as easy as that of the hundreds of
thousands of r^^lar colonists who have chosen to emigrate to
the country for settlement. The guards which are provided
for the prison criminals are no more than are everywhere pro-
vided for that unfortunate and desperate class of people.

The fact seems to be that the objections to the prisons of
Siberia are substantially the same that are urged against



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THE EXILE SYSTEM 331

prisons everywhere, and to get the right perspective one needs
to read them in connection with the literature of the prison
congresses in general where reformers are presenting the worst
side of their cases for the sake of urging the public to action.
The facts may all be true, but they only partially represent
the case. They are such, however, as to make the good people
of all nations ashamed of themselves and of the means which
they employ to carry out their will. Even Prince Kropotkin,
who has inveighed most loudly against Siberian prisons, pro-
tests still more strongly against the best model prisons of
Western Europe. For example, after being for some months
imprisoned at Clairvaux in France, he writes :

"In Siberia I bad seen what sinks o£ filth and what hot-beds of
physical and moral deterioration the dirty, overcrowded, ' unrefonned '
Russian prisons were, and at the age of nineteen, I imagined that if
there were less overcrowding in the rooms and a certain classification
of the prisoners, and if healthy occupations were provided for them,
the institution might be substantially improved. Now I had to part
with these illusions. I could convince myself that as regards their
effects upon the prisoners and their results for society at large, the
best 'reformed' prisons — ^whether cellular or not — are as bad as, or
even worse than, the dirty prisons of old. They do not reform the
prisoners. On the contrary, in the inmiense, overwhelming majority
of cases they exercise upon them the most deteriorating effect The
thief, the swindler, the rough, who has spent some years in a prison,
comes out of it more ready than ever to resume his former career; he
is better prepared for it; he has learned to do it better; he is more
embittered against society, and he finds a more solid justification for
being in revolt against its laws and customs; necessarily, unavoidably.



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332 ASIATIC RUSSIA

he is bound to sink deeper and deeper into the anti-sodal acts which
first brought him before a law court The offenses he will commit
after his release will inevitably be graver than those which first got him
into trouble; and he is doomed to finish his life in a prison or in a
hard-labor colony. I had said that prisons are ' universities of crime,
maintained by the state/ And now, thinking of it at fifteen years'
distance, in the light of my subsequent experience, I can only confirm
that statement of mine. * * * And if before my condemnation I
already knew that society is wrong in its present system of punish-
ments, after I left Gairvaux I knew. that it is not only wrong and
unjust in this system, but that it is simply foolish when, in its partly
unconscious and partly willful ignorance of realities, it maintains at
its own expense these universities of corruption, under the illusion
that they are necessary as a bridle to the criminal instincts of man." *

To give the right perspective to the facts about Siberian
prisons, it will be helpful to quote from the reports of some
of the prison authorities in the United States. The following
is from the United States marshal at Fort Smith, Arkansas,
in 1884:

** The building is about sixty feet square, outside measurement, and
is divided by a partition wall through the center, making two cells.
The bottoms of the cells are covered with flagstones, which are about
two and one-half feet below the surface of the earth; length of cells,
fifty-five feet; breadth, twenty-nine feet; height, about seven feet.

" There being but two cells of equal size, I am compelled to confine
all criminals and those only charged with misdemeanors together in
the same cell, without regard to age, charge, or physical condition.
The youth of tender years, often charged with only a misdemeanor,
is confined for months with the condemned murderer and desperado.



♦ Memoirs of a Revolutionist, pp. 467, 468, 47a



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THE EXILE SYSTEM 333

Besides this, we have no place to keep the sick and wounded separate
from the wild, noisy, and unfeeling crowd around theoL The number
of pupils committed to this school of crime during the nine months
ending June 30, 1884, was 454."

The following is from an address of the Governor of Ohio
in 1886:

" I know a jail in my own State of Ohio that, if I could bring it
here, would empty this house quicker than a fire, unless you stayed
from a sense of duty. I know more than one such jail, but I know
this one specially; and its condition is such as to disgrace every
decent citizen of the county in which it is. Let me tell you what it is
like, and then you can say whether there is not a call for John
Howard to rise from his grave and look at the jails of Ohio. It is
under ground; it has an open water closet; there are three cells on
each side of the privy vault Here nuty be immured honest men, not
criminals only, but witnesses detained under the law of Ohio, too
poor to give bond for their appearance— this in an enlightened Chris-
tian State. I pardoned three men out of it, because the county had
failed in its duty to have a decent jail; and they were suffering in
health. I know another about as bad. There is but one jail in all
the eighty-eight counties in Ohio that is absolutely and completely fit
for the purpose for which jails are constructed."

The following from a priscm warden of an enterprising
Western city might be duplicated almost any time from some
other portion of the cotmtry:

** In the dty in which I live, only a few weeks ago a lady of refine-
ment, finely educated, of good personal appearance, and her daughter
—a girl of sixteen— were accused of arson by some num who had sold
them furniture on monthly mstalments. They were arrested. Where



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334 ASIATIC RUSSIA

should they be carried? Our jail is under ground, poorly lighted, ill-
ventilated with all the prisoners in one pen. Into this common jail
were thrust this lady and her daughter, and by the delays of the law
were there perhaps a month before the time of trial. On the day
of the trial, it was discovered that it was a mistake, and that they
did not bum the house at all. ... A very decent young man
was suspected of robbing his employer. I have not seen a nicer
young man in a long time. He was as lovely a boy as is in any one
of your own homes. After the boy had been contaminated in the jail,
it came out that he had been innocent of the crime alleged against him.
What is to be done with women who are arrested, with boy crimi-
nals, and with persons suspected of crime ? "

It is the pretty general opinion of the prominent officers of
the National Conference of Charities and Corrections in the
United States that the worst things said about Siberian prisons
can be easily matched in almost every State of the Union, and
that while in many of the States the State prisons have been
greatly improved, the county jails remain practically in the dis-
graceful condition in which they have been for a century past.
Besides, in many of the States the custom of leasing out the
prisoners to work for private parties is still in practice, lead-
ing to a condition of things that is deplorable in the extreme.
The average number of prisoners engaged in laboring on the
railroads in North Carolina in 1878 and 1879 was seven hun-
dred and seventy-six, tKe deaths among these were one hun-
dred and seventy-eight, or ten and one half per cent per year,
eleven of these being shot while attempting to escape. A
similar per cent of deaths was also reported for the leased
convicts of Alabama. It is reported, indeed, from three other



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THE EXILE SYSTEM 335

States that '' a prisoner can rarely be found to have survived
ten years of this brutal slavery either in the prison or in the
convict camp. In Alabama, in 1880, there were but three who
had been in confinement eight years and one nine; while not
one had lived out ten years' imprisonment. In Mississippi,
December i, 1881, among seventy-seven convicts then on the
roll under ten years' sentence, seventeen under sentence of
between ten and twenty, and twenty-three under sentence of
between twenty and fifty years, none had served eleven years,
only two had served ten, and only three others had served
nine years. There were twenty-five distinct outside gangs, and
their average annual rate of mortality for that and the previous
year was over eight per cent."

Speaking with reference to the whole matter of prison re-
form, a prominent actor in it recently (1901) expressed him-
self as follows :

"When Mr. George Kennan was in Minneapolis, lecturing on the
iniquities of the Siberian transportation system, I offered to show
him within three blocks of his hotel, a prison which could match the
horrors of the wayside prisons which he described. The American
county jail system as it is practiced in most of our States is abominable
to an astonishing degree. For example, there was maintained in
Minneapolis for several years a county jail in which the prisoners
were kept in a steel cage, and were exhibited like wild beasts in a
menagerie. They slept in hammocks, four to six men in a cell six and
a half by nine feet By day they had the run of a corridor four by
forty feet, for thirty men. They could not keep themselves free from
vermin; they were forced into association with the vilest outscouring
of the earth. In a county jail at Davenport, Iowa, I saw five insane



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336 ASIATIC RUSSIA

patients who were icept confined in a dark, unwholesome prison,
receiving only snch care as might be extended to them br their fellow
prisoners. The county attorney of a prominent county of Illinois told
me a few weeks ago that the prisoners in the county jail in that
county, maintained a ' kangaroo court' When a new prisoner came in,
they instituted an inquisition to ascertain whether he had any money,
and if he had any, they took it away from him and spent it for the
general good. I myself discovered a similar 'kangaroo court' in a
jail in Minnesota.

" In some States, as for example, Ohio, and Minnesota, laws have
been passed requiring separate confinement of prisoners in county jails,
and prohibiting the promiscuous association, but thus far these laws
have been very inadequately enforced. It has been generally admitted
by those connected with state prisons and police stations that their
administration is discreditable to the country. There has been a
revolution of the administration of State prisons in the past twenty to
twenty-five years. Most of the State prisons in the northern States
are wisely and humanely administered, with intelligent efforts for the
reformation of prisoners. Cruel punishments have been abolished,
prisoners have been graded, and the introduction of the parole system
has proven a remarkable incentive to the acquirement of good char-
acter. I believe that our prisons are far more reformatory than ever
before.

In the South the lease system has existed for a great many years.
It is practically a form of legal slavery. There has been a steady
growth of sentiment in the South against the lease system, and It
has been abolished in some States and mitigated in others, but it it
still a blot upon our civilization, and entails great cruelties.''

On the whole, it seems that the prisoners in Siberia are
treated as well as the circumstances permit. Generous pro-
vision is made for their food and clothing; their rations being



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THE EXILE SYSTEM 337

in fact considerably larger than those dealt out to the English
prisoners ; nor is the hard labor to which the worst criminals
are subjected any more severe than that endured by the mass
of ordinary workmen; while considerably more than one half
of the exiles live in comparative freedom with only such slight
police control as will prevent their leaving the district, and
they are permitted to engage in whatever occupation they
choose which is open to them. The scattering of so many
prisoners over Siberia is therefore not so much an evil in-
flicted upon them as upon the country; for under whatever
system the punishments were executed, the individual crim-
inals would endure the suflfering, so that we are not called
upon in this connection either to discuss the broad principles
of prison reform or to criticize the measures pursued by the
home government for the detection and arrest of the criminal
population ; but are chiefly concerned with the bearing of the
system upon Siberia. That this is tmfavorable, there can be
no question, and this the Siberians themselves have been quick
to perceive.

When one considers the character of the mass of the con-
victs sent to Siberia, he will not wonder that there, as in
Australia and Tasmania, the free colonists come to be bitterly
opposed to the whole exile system ; while the government itself
could not avoid seeing that the development of the country is
greatly hindered, rather than helped, by the influx of this
class of population. The condition of thin^ which had arisen
is graphically set forth by Mr. Solomon in the report already
referred to :



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338 ASIATIC RUSSIA

"Let me call attention to certain figures. From 1807 until 1899
Siberia received from European Russia 864,549 transported persons,
including their families. If we confine ourselves to the last dozen
years we shall see that Siberia has received in that space of time
100^582 transported persons, of whom 951876 were males and 4,706
were females. Of the families of transported persons there were 155
husbands, 17,556 wives and 40»9OO children. Siberia has thus received
in the course of twelve years I59>i9i individuals, one thirty-sixth of
the whole population. If one takes into consideration the number of
the transported only, without their families, we shall see that during that
period Siberia has received for each fifty-seven inhabitants a criminal
or a man recognized as more or less dangerous in the country of his
origin. These figures permit us to draw certain important conclu-
sions. I. Transportation does not contribute to the colonization of a
country, owing to the great preponderance of unmarried persons.
2. The number of vicious elements introduced into the country passes
all reasonable proportion. Of the number of transported males, only
17,556 were married; the other 78,322, or 81 J4 per cent were un-
married.

" These conclusions are completely confirmed by a detailed study of
the conditions of transported persons. The number of transported
persons residing in Siberia in 1898 was 298,574 individuals of both
sexes. Half of these were criminals condemned to transportation
under the criminal code, the other half under administrative authority.
But they can hardly be distinguished one from the other. The oppro-
brium of their situation and the misery of their existence have reduced
them to an absolutely uniform mass. The third o£ this mass, one
hundred thousand men, escape all control. The place of their residence
is unknown to the police. They steal on the highways and in villages,
they beg and extort money in every way possible. In the summer they
bivouac under the stars and conceal themselves in the forests of
Siberia; in the winter they move toward the cities and use every



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THE EXILE SYSTEM 339

method to secure a lodgment in the local prisons. The second one
hmidred thousand are equally in a state of vagabondage, but they
change their residence to find work. If they have not lost the habit
of work, and if they preserve some spirit of honesty, they may succeed
in establishing themselves again; if not, they soon augment the ranks
of criminal vagabonds. Of the hundred thousand who are left, about
30,000 are cultivators of the earth and furnish an element of order.
It is remarkable that this number corresponds to the number of
transported married persons. The other 70,000 are workmen. So long
as they are young and in good health they gain their daily bread, but
when infirmity comes, many of them take to begging and often termi-
nate their existence in prison, which they have avoided until that time.
** These figures are eloquent, but I might cite others which are still
more eloquent, for I have seen that panorama of misery and of moral
degradation; I have seen it unroll before me from the mountains of
the Ural to the waves of the Pacific. I will only cite one telling feict.
While the number of transported persons represents five per cent of
the free population of Siberia it represents fifty-eight per cent of the
population of the prisons of that country. Sapientia sat,"

In view of these facts, it is gratifying to know that the dawn
of the twentieth century was sig^lized by a radical change in
the whole exile system. On the twenty-fifth of June, 1900,
an Imperial edict was issued of far-reaching significance with
reference to the system. The essential points arc thus sum-
marized by Mr. Solomon:

'* I. Crimes and misdemeanors under common law which according
to the penal code in force entail transportation under its different
forms, will hereafter be punished by imprisonment of from eight
months to two years, or by sentence to a house of correction from
one and a half to six years.



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340 ASIATIC RUSSIA

"2. The provisions of the penal code concerning tran^K>rtation for
political crimes and for criminal acts against the laws and institutions
of the Orthodox Church will be preserved, but Siberia will not be the
only place for such transportation.

"3. Vagabonds refusing to disclose their identity, who are for the
most part escaped convicts, after having su£Fered imprisonment in a
house of correction for four years, will be transferred to the island
of Sakhalin.

" 4. The right of the communes, both rural and bourgeoises, to refuse
readmission to members who have suffered a penalty deprivative of
liberty is abrogated.

" 5. The rural communes (but not the communes bourgeoises) will
retain the right to deliver to the authorities such of their members as
are dangerous to public security. The place of their residence will be
fixed by the administration; but they may, with the consent of the
local police, leave that place on condition that they do not return to
the province from which they have been expelled. After five years of
good conduct they may ask the Minister of the Interior to remove that
restriction.

" Transportation will be confined to political and religious criminals,
the number of whom does not average more than a hundred individuals
a year, and to vagabonds, not identified, the average number of whom
is 430 a year.

"The Council of the Empire, in submitting to his Majesty the
Emperor the scheme of law for the suppression of transportation,
expressed itself in these words : ' The Middle Ages left to Russia three
legacies: torture, the knout, and transportation. The eighteenth cen-
tury abolished torture, the nineteenth the knout, and the first day of
the twentieth century will be the last of a penal system based upon
transportation.' "



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PART III

Political Divisions



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XVI

TRANS-CAUCASIA

TRANS-CAUCASIA is that portion of the Russian Em-
pire lying south of the Caucasus Mountains and be-
tween the Caspian and the Black Seas. It includes
the governments of



Baku

BUckS«a..
Daghestan..
Elisabethpol

Erivan

Kars

Kntait

Tiflis with..
Zakataly....

Total...



Atm:
Bnglith
■q. milei.



15,095
a,830

16,731
10,075

15,306
1,541



94,l&»



Populfttloii
1897.



789,^

871,557

8cM,757

302,498

1,075,861

1,040,943



5,516,139



Dmtltr
peraq.
mil*:



55



58
53

lOI
43



The astonishing variety of population may be appreciated

by a bare enumeration of the nationalities represented in the
census.

Russians •• • 112,357

Poles 3,735

Germans 9,356

French 18

343



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344 ASIATIC RUSSIA



Moldovians 1,206

Greeks 55»707

Persians 10,687

Tatui 124683

Taluishin SO»5io

Ossetes 7^,445

Kurds 100,043

Armenians 939>i3i

Gypsies 7^5

Jews 34*336

Chaldeans 2,272

Georgians-proper 381,208

Tushin 5*624

Pshavs 9,15s

Chevstu-s 6,560

Mitylenians , 2,324

Imeritians 423^1

Guriets 7^,095

Adzarts 59»5i6

Engelians 8,827

Mingrelians 213,030

Lazas 1,781

Swannetians 14,035

Abkhassians 6(M45

Circassians 3,971

Chechenians 9^7

Kistins 3,150

I ngush 3

Lesghians 596,034

Tartars • 1,139,659

Turks ,..:.... 70,226



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Oil-Well at Baku.



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TRANS-CAUCASIA 345

Tttrkomans , gj^

Karapai)an8 ^134

Nagaitzians 3,556

Kumians 60338

Finns 1,382

Religiously the population consists of Orthodox, 1,395473 ;
Sectarians, 55,157; Annenian-Grq;orians, 932,275; Armenian
Catholics, 32,692; Roman Catholics, 6,910; Lutherans, 10,941 ;
Jews, 36,291; Sumiite Mohammedans, 1416,279; Orthodox
Mohammedans, 882,753; Jesuits, 14498; other religions,
16,291.

The births in 1898 were, males, 87,965; females, 74,984;
total, 162,949; while the deaths were, males, 56,874; females,
47458; total, 104,332; making an increase for the year of
58,617, or a little over one per cent annually.

Of agricultural products of 1898 there were reported 34,-
210458 bushels of winter wheat; 8,628462 of summer wheat;
103,242 of rye; 219,204 of oats; 22405,056 barley; 2,810,664
millet; 12,993,906 maize; 1442,202 potatoes; 7,741,392 rice;
825,852 other grains, making a total of 91,380438 busheb.

The manu&ctured products for the various districts, esti-
mated in rubles, is shown in the following table, the ruble being
about fifty cents :

Tiflis 9»6g^rOOO

Kntais 7>97P,ooo

Elisabethpol 4*5i3>ooo

Baku 39,989,000

Erivan i^S^fiOO



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346 ASIATIC RUSSIA

Kars 691,000

Dagfaestan 246,000

Total 5«S6^ooo

The educational interests are displayed in the following fig-
ures : The number of pupils attending boys' gymnasia, 6,753 J
of these, 2,786 are Russians ; 969 Georgians ; 1,968 Armenians ;
212 Tartars ; 279 Jews ; 539 other races. Of the church schools


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Online LibraryH[enry] Justin RoddyComplete geography → online text (page 4 of 22)