The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

The Treasury Commission`s Attitudes Towards the Cross-Border Jewish Migration in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century

The second half of the 18th century in the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (furthermore - GDL) and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth marks not only the time of imminent state dissolution but also a time of successful and unsuccessful reforms which aimed to strengthen the state. In 1764 the newly established Treasury Commission of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania launched numerous attempts to revive the state. One of them was to optimize the customs network and the collection of tolls as it generated a considerable part of the state’s treasury.
In historiography, it is believed that the Jews, especially those living near the border, were closely connected with cross-border migration, thus we can assume that the newly enforced laws and regulations affected the cross-border Jewish migration too.
The main aim of this presentation is by using the surviving GDL Treasury Commission`s documents (various decrees, revisions, recommendations compiled by the state officers) to answer how these reforms affected the Jewish cross-border migration? What was the state`s attitude towards it? How did these documents characterize cross-border Jewish migration, and what were the main economic motives? Lastly, did the Jews engage in illegal activities such as smuggling, and was it perceived as a significant problem to the state?