Nikolay Nikolayevich Muravyov-Amursky graduated from the Page Corps in 1827.
Nikolay Nikolayevich participated in the Siege of Varna in the Russo-Turkish War in 1828-1829, and later in suppression of the November Uprising in Poland in 1831. Due to health reasons, he retired from the military in 1833 and returned home to manage his father's estate. However, he returned to active duty in 1838, as General Golovin's aide-de-camp, to serve in the Caucasus region. During one of the campaigns against the mountain people Muravyov was wounded. In 1840, Muravyov was assigned to command one of the sections of the Black Sea coast defense lines, during which time he participated in the suppression of the Ubykh people.
Muravyov was promoted in rank to major-general in 1841, but had to permanently retire from the military due to illness. He transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and was appointed as an acting military and civil governor of Tula province in 1846. Eager in his willingness to improve the province's state of affairs, he proposed to establish the governorate agricultural society. Muravyov was the first governor to propose Tsar Nicholas I to abolish serfdom; a motion signed by nine local land-owners. While the tsar did nothing about the petition, from then on he always referred to Muravyov as a "liberal" and a "democrat".
On September 5, 1847, Muravyov was appointed the governor general of Irkutsk and Yeniseysk (Eastern Siberia). Muravyov's first actions as a governor general were to put end to the embezzlement of public funds. He also mandated the study of the Russian language in schools for native Siberian and Far Eastern peoples. He pursued the exploration and settlement of the territories north of the Amur River, often utilizing help of political exiles. Many of his actions were aimed to expand commerce in the Far Eastern region. Seeing religion as a powerful form of control over local population, he favored building of new Christian churches and promoted local religious beliefs such as shamanism and Buddhism.
After the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk, Russia lost the right to navigate the Amur River. Muravyov insisted on conducting an aggressive policy with China despite strong resistance from St. Petersburg officials, who feared a breakup in relations between the two countries. Nevertheless, because the lower reaches of the Amur River were in fact being claimed by the Russians, several expeditions organized by Gennady Nevelskoy had been approved by the government. In 1851-1853, several expeditions were sent to the Amur Liman and Sakhalin, with Russian settlements being established in those areas.
On January 11 1854, tsar Nicholas I authorized Muravyov to carry the negotiations with the Chinese regarding establishing a border along the Amur River, and to transport troops to the Amur's estuary. In 1854-1858, Muravyov assisted Gennady Nevelskoy in achieving that goal. The first expedition took place in May 1854. The 1855's expedition transported first Russian settlers to the Amur's estuary. Muravyov started negotiations with the Chinese about that time.
During the last expedition of 1858, Muravyov concluded the Treaty of Aigun with the Qing official Yishan. The Treaty of Aigun effectively recognized the Amur River as the boundary between Russia and Qing Empire and granted Russia free access to the Pacific Ocean.
For this, Muravyov was granted the title of Count Amursky (i.e., "of the Amur River"). The new territories acquired by Russia included Priamurye and most of the territories of modern Primorsky and Khabarovsk krais (territories).
The Treaty of Aigun was confirmed and expanded by the provisions of the Beijing Treaty of 1860, which granted Russia right to the Ussuri krai and southern parts of Primorye.
Muravyov-Amursky retired from his post of governor general in 1861 after his proposal to divide Eastern Siberia into two separate governorates general was declined. He was appointed as a member of the State Council. In 1868, he moved to Paris, France, where he lived until his death in 1881, visiting Russia only occasionally to participate in the State Council meetings.