Lynch, Donald F.
The Conquest, Settlement and Initial Development of New Russia (the Southern Third of the Ukraine): 1780-1837This geographic study of the southern third of the Ukraine (New Russia) between 1700 and 1837 shows that the Russian government succeeded in conquering the region from Turkey and settling its lands with loyal subjects, but failed to pursue policies which would have facilitated the area's economic development. By conquering and settling New Russia, the government secured the southern boundary of its grain surplus producing regions from foreign attack and obtained a foothold on the Black Sea coast. The failure to promote development effectively, however, not only retarded the region’s economic growth but also left it unprepared to meet foreign competition in world markets during the 1840s. The government’s success is indicated by victories over the Turkish army and navy, the establishment of naval bases, two of which became important commercial ports (Odessa and Taganrog), the removal or neutralization of potentially hostile indigenous peoples, and fairly rapid population growth. The failure in economic development was not truly apparent until the late 1830s and early 1840s. In the first three decades of the nineteenth century the region established a significant foreign trade in grain and wool and employed about half of its total area for agriculture. The people, however, continued to use the extensive, low yield systems of agriculture originally developed by the Tatars and Cossacks and the government failed to improve the vitally important overland transportation system. By the late 1830s, increasing traffic caused a critical transportation problem and in the mid 1840s foreign competition created difficulties for the region's low quality exports. The government attempted to solve these difficulties by investing money in canals that were never completed, importing steamboats that were seldom used to carry goods, making plans for railroads that were not to be built until the 1860s, encouraging the interbreeding of Merino and native sheep, and building roads in the mountainous part of the Crimea. These well-intentioned measures failed to attack the central problems of improving the quality of exported grains and wool and improving the efficiency and the speed of the overland transportation system. They indicate that the government wished to foster change, but did not know how to do so because it did not understand the region's true requirements.