One might say that Russian liberalism was more independent of Slavophilism than any other ideological trend in nineteenth-century Russia. Russian Liberals, however, thought of the French Revolution as Westernization in the broadest sense of the word, as something not only natural but desirable. The history of Russian liberalism in the nineteenth century may, like the Liberals' understanding of the French Revolution, be divided into two parts: before and after the emancipation of the serfs. Maksim Maksimovich Kovalevsky, the most prominent Russian liberal intellectual, more than anyone else epitomized the liberal approach to the French Revolution. Russia's industrial development and extensive railroad building gave rise to Russia's working class. Political involvement affected liberal perceptions of the French Revolution in important ways. The liberal approach to the past was instrumental and pragmatic. Liberals were definitely harbingers of powerful intellectual trends.