Peter the Great - Jacob Abbott
By sheer force of will, Peter the Great single-handedly imposed modernization on a highly resistant Russia. He overcame foes from within his country, including his sister Sophia, whom the anti-modernist forces favored for the throne. He overcame Charles XII of Sweden, his great rival for control of the Baltic, in spite of overwhelming defeats. He considered his son Alexis unworthy of the throne and had him killed rather than trust his kingdom to a libertine.
PETER THE GREAT.
There are very few persons who have not heard of the fame of Peter the Great, the founder, as he is generally regarded by mankind, of Russian civilization. The celebrity, however, of the great Muscovite sovereign among young persons is due in a great measure to the circumstance of his having repaired personally to Holland, in the course of his efforts to introduce the industrial arts among his people, in order to study himself the art and mystery of ship-building, and of his having worked with his own hands in a ship-yard there. The little shop where Peter pursued these practical studies still stands in Saardam, a ship-building town not far from Amsterdam. The building is of wood, and is now much decayed; but, to preserve it from farther injury, it has been incased in a somewhat larger building of brick, and it is visited annually by great numbers of curious travelers.
The whole history of Peter, as might be expect from the indications of character developed by this incident, forms a narrative that is full of interest and instruction for all.