In the autumn of 1871, Alexis Romanov, the fourth son of Tsar Alexander II, set off for a whirlwind trip around the United States. It was a major milestone in U.S.–Russia relations, but the tour also served Alexander II’s efforts to get his son to forget a scandalous romance. Alexis’ American tour also allowed Americans to examine themselves in the wake of the Civil War and demonstrate aspects of American modernity. The American press enthusiastically followed Alexis, covering his every move, his every dinner, and every dance not unlike the paparazzi today. Crowds gathered to get a glimpse of this exotic royal celebrity. Alexis’ trip also posed questions at the center of American identity—the irony that so many in a republic were falling over to welcome the son of an autocrat, and debates about what was quintessentially American to show the young prince. Here’s Lee Farrow with a deep dive into Alexis’ American tour.
Lee Farrow is a Distinguished Teaching Professor of history and Associate Dean in the School of Liberal Arts at Auburn University Montgomery. She’s the author of several books on US-Russia relations, including Alexis in America: A Russian Grand Duke’s Tour, 1871-72, Seward’s Folly: A New Look at the Alaska Purchase, and an annotated edition of Louise Bryant’s Six Red Months in Russia.
Original Zenith Brass Band, “If I Ever Cease to Love.”