This is the first volume of a two-volume intellectual and political biography of Boris Chicherin (1828-1904), the most important liberal thinker in nineteenth-century Russia. The author analyzes Chicherin's gradual emergence as a reformist during the reign of Nicholas I, his activities as a prominent spokesman for liberal reform, and his defense of conservative liberalism before his disillusionment in the mid 1860's with both Russian government and society. Chicherin's early liberalism distinguished civil rights, such as freedom of conscience and of speech, from political rights, such as constitutional guarantees of suffrage and representative government. He contended that only a strong centralized state could simultaneously keep order and promulgate sweeping civil reforms, for when nations lacking democratic experience embark on extensive reforms, the absence of a powerful state apparatus may lead to uncontrolled revolutionary ferment. The book is not a conventional biography of Chicherin, but a portrait of the cultural context in which he and other early Russian liberals operated. It deals with broad issues in Russian intellectual and political history: the development of liberalism out of the Westernism of the 1840's; the differentiation of early Russian liberalism from Russian socialism; the connections between educated liberal society and the enlightened bureaucrats; the woman question, the Polish problem, and the abolition of serfdom; and finally, liberalism's prospects in reformed Russia.