Eastern Ukraine, occupied by the Russian monarchy, included the lands of the Left Bank, Slobodian, Right Bank Ukraine, and the region of the South. During the 19th century, Eastern Ukraine was subject to general imperial laws of socio-political and economic development. The validity of Russian law, the administrative-territorial system, and executive personnel expanded on this territory. The absolute power in all nine provinces (into which Eastern Ukraine was divided at the beginning of the 19th century) was delegated by a special edict from hand-to-hand of governor general who performed administrative and supervisory functions.
Tsarism pursued a course of Russification of the Ukrainian population of Eastern Ukraine. As a result of such a policy by the Russian government, the number of Ukrainians in this area decreased to 80% by the end of the century. In particular, the national element in the structure of urban population did not exceed the one third of the general number of people. As a result of intensification of industrial production in these recently agricultural lands, one could see the strengthening of the class of workers as well as the growth of the national bourgeoisie.
The liberation traditions of Ukrainians began their renaissance in the early 19th century. It first began in circles of national intellectuals - Ukrainian writers in particular. The activities of the Kharkiv romantics - Ukrainian subjects in works by M. Hohol - were of great significance for preserving the spirits of cossacks' victories. In the future, their cause was continued by Ivan Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, P. Hrabovskyi, and Taras Shevchenko. The Ukrainian national cultural renaissance was favored by the opening of the Kharkiv (1805) and Kyiv (1834) Universities by the founding of a popular paper, "Ukrainskyi vesnik" (1816-1863), the scientific literary journal, "Osnova" (1861-1863), and the first historical paper in Ukraine, "Kyivskaia starina" (1882-1906). Scientific activity of well-known Ukrainian historians was directed at maintaining wide circles of public and historical memory about old traditions of the national-liberation struggle of Ukrainian people for state independence and social justice.
From the first decades of the 19th century, the Ukrainian national culture movement was closely connected with the political one. A lot of Ukrainians were the acting members of general Russian Masonic organizations, which proclaimed the creation of "judicious society" of the people with equal rights - the target of their activities. They took part in secret officers' societies, oriented against the Russian monarchy. The population on the Left Bank region supported the liberation revolt of the Polish landlords of 1830-1831. Ethnic Ukrainians, together with the Poles, stood up for the freedom of Poland during the rebellion of 1863-1864.
The activities of the Brotherhood of St. Cyril and Methodius was the important point on the path of consolidation of the national liberation movement. That was a non-legal political organization created in Kyiv in 1846 by representatives of the Ukrainian national intelligentsia. Taras Shevchenko also spread the national liberation ideas in his poetic works. The attainment of state independence of Ukraine and the establishing of it as an equal member of the confederation of independent Slavic countries, with Kyiv as the political center, was the goal of the Brotherhood activities. The demand for liquidation of the monarchical system of the Russian Empire and the abolition of serfdom were the closest political requirements of the Brotherhood members. The practical activity was concentrated on education and search of the way to raise the economic development of Ukraine. Russian Tsarism savagely punished the Brotherhood members.
Having been spread in national consciousness, these ideas were developed in the social movement of the late 19th century. Members of these often illegal organizations were united by the calls of Ukrainism, the devotion to their people and pride in their history. The social workers were mainly busy in cultural and educational work. They organized schools, issues textbooks and popularized folklore.
The liberation and social ideas were also spread among the working class in Ukraine. The strengthening of national social pressure and economic exploitation on the part of the Russian monarchy met the firm resistance of peasants and town dwellers. Their refusal to work and armed uprisings became the most spread form of social protest in the 19th century. They demanded personal freedom, land and liberty.
The social struggle developed with new force in the late 19th century. In the mid-1850s, the peasants' movement embraced 422 villages of the Kyiv, Katerynoslav and Kherson provinces. Peasants' rebels were maintained by the students from the Kharkiv and Kyiv Universities. Agrarian reform of 1861, which abolished serfdom in Ukraine, simultaneously limited the peasants' land ownership. The former serfs answered to the next wave of revolts.
A new stage of the liberation movement in Ukraine was connected with the activities of Russian populists (narodniks). Their circles and organizations worked in Kyiv, Odesa, Chernihiv and other cities. The ideas of freedom and equality were spread by narodniks mainly among peasants. After 1885, narodniks lost their leading part in the liberation movement. It was intercepted by the social democratic intelligentsia, which made a lot of efforts to bring their political calls to the consciousness of workers. The first political organizations (i.e., Marxist circles) appeared in the 1880s and 1890s.
The 20th century was marked by the considerable aggravation of the revolutionary struggle. First, Ukrainian political parties (the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party, Ukrainian Socio-democratic Workers' Party, the Society of Ukrainian Progressionists) were under its influence. Their leaders were D. Antonovych, O. Lototskyi, V. Vynnychenko, S. Petliura, S. Yefremov and others. Some of these individuals became prominent figures of the future Ukrainian revolution.
Notwithstanding the Draconian laws of Tsarism of 1863 and 1876 with regard to the Ukrainian language, the development of Ukrainian culture rose to a new level. It became an important factor of national renaissance. The creative work of M. Hrushevskyi, (e.g., the multi-volume "History of Ukraine-Rus"), works by B. Hrinchenko, A. Krymskyi, and M. Arkas were noticeable literary landmarks. Pressing social and national problems were addressed in the works of many poets.
The state of Ukrainians in the lands subject to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century was not less complicated than of those in the territory of Eastern Ukraine. The population of Eastern Halychyna, Northern Bukovyna and Transcarpathia (mainly peasants) suffered from economic and social oppression, as well as from national restraints. The expansion of the force of centralized authorities to these territories provided for the stabilization of economic relations between them, and created conditions for their gradual evolution. By the mid-19th century, the Austro-Hungarian government, influenced by the revolutionary situation in Europe in 1848, began reforms directed at improving agrarian relations in the country. In particular, they liquidated juridical dependence of peasants on the landlords - the plots of lands were allotted to them. This created conditions for the successive transformation of the peasantry in active political force.
In April 1848, Austria acquired the status of constitutional monarchy. But the declared democratic liberties and national equality of people often remained on paper. Constitutional-parliamentary management was restored only in the 1860s. The adoption of the December 1867 constitution guaranteed (at least formally) the equality of nationalities and languages. Separate regions of the empire (e.g., Halychyna) received the right of limited authority. The measures taken by the Austrian government favored the intensification of economic life in West Ukrainian lands, and their incorporation into the world system of trade relations. The agrarian reform of 1848 opened the path for complete reorganization of the agricultural branch in the land. As a result of splitting up the peasants' farms, by the end of the 19th century, a market of hired manpower that favored the increase of profit in agricultural production, was created. Further development of the enterprise industry was observed in the West Ukrainian lands.
In the 19th century, there were certain changes in the socio-political life of the region. The activation of the enlighteners' ideas and the furthering of the ideology of romanticism, which was caused by the rise of the liberation movement on the European continent, favored the intense processes of national renaissance. The first cultural-educational circles appeared in Peremyshl and Lviv. Interests in the history of the land, language and folklore considerably increased at this time. However, the decisive part in the development of the national movement at that time belonged to the socio-cultural association "Ruska triitsia". The motives of the liberation of the region were seen on the pages of publicists' articles, almanacs, and school textbooks.
The revolutionary events of 1848-1849 had broad resonance in the West Ukrainian lands. The first Ukrainian political organization, the Chief Rus Council, appeared in Lviv in 1848. Its program documents were filled with ideas of autonomy, democracy, and reformation in different spheres of political and intellectual life of the region. Revolutionary events enlivened the Ukrainian national liberation movement in Northern Bukovyna (a rebellion headed by Lukian Kobylytsia) and in Transcarpathia (O. Dukhnovych and A. Dobrianskyi).
The national movement was not stopped after the revolution suppressed. Representatives of younger generations of intelligentsia founded youth organizations: communities in Lviv, Berezhany, Peremyshl, Sambir, Ternopil, Stanislav. The whole pleiad of outstanding political figures of Ukraine came from the milieu of these young people (e.g., Ivan Franko, Mykola Pavlyk, Ostap Terletskyi). Such political parties as the Rus-Ukrainian radical party, the Ukrainian Socio-Democratic Party, the Ukrainian National Democratic Party among others, appeared in the region late in the 19th century. The Greek-Catholic church, headed by Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytskyi, became an influential force.
The development of the national liberation movement in the Western Ukrainian
lands was not isolated, but was in close relations with analogous processes
in Eastern Ukraine. There occurred the intense exchange of opinions and
ideas, of literature and periodicals. The people of Ukrainian territory,
separated by boundaries, thought of themselves as one nation.