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Entries / Revolution of 1905-07

Revolution of 1905-07

Categories / Social Life

REVOLUTION OF 1905-07. The first people's bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia. Caused by socioeconomic contradictions and the country's political development following the reforms of 1860s-70s, which opened the way for the development of capitalism but did not fully abolish the feudal serf system. In St. Petersburg, the revolution was caused by the events of 9 January 1905 (see Bloody Sunday). That day had already seen confrontations between workers and the police, soldiers and Cossacks, and barricades were erected. On 10 January, 160,000 workers in more than 650 industrial factories in St. Petersburg were on strike. The strike assumed a political character, and workers held up slogans of armed revolt and the desire to overthrow autocracy. Members from the Petersburg intelligentsia stayed late into the night of 9 January at the meeting place of the Free Economic Society, criticizing the government's actions and encouraging troops not to shoot at people. On 12 January, martial law was proclaimed in St. Petersburg; General D.F. Trepov was appointed Governor-General of the Capital and was given dictatorial power. Around 700 people were arrested, and it was proclaimed on 14 January that the problem of workers' insurance and the cutting down of the workday were all resolved; on 19 January, Emperor Nicholas II approved "The Workers' Resolution". Soon, a governmental commission, under the supervision of the senator N.V. Shidlovsky, was established to find the causes of the workers' dissatisfaction and for measures to alleviate them. In spring-summer 1905, the Petersburg proletariat's revolutionary activity continued to grow. Mass-meetings and gatherings on May Day were held; on 20-21 June, a general political strike against mobilization and the continuation of the Russo-Japanese War was held; and on 9 July, a political strike on the half-year anniversary of Bloody Sunday. A mass movement for shortening the workday had grown, and for a Workers' Constitution (elected workers' commissions for factories), and fighting squads began to be created. The most active role in revolutionary events was played by the Socialist-Revolutionary and the Social Democrat parties. In summer 1905, liberals became active. The League for Emancipation considerably widened its activity. In May, its official political organ, The Pamphlet for the League of Emancipation, began to be published in an illegal printing-house in St. Petersburg. On 6 August 1905, a manifesto concerning the creation of an advisory-legislative State Duma was published. Liberal politicians supported it and encouraged people to take part in elections. Bolsheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries called for the active boycott of the Duma, and for the establishment of new revolutionary organs of power for the purpose of armed revolt. The October General Political Strike of 1905 became the beginning of the highest stage of the Revolution; during the strike, on 13 October, the Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies was created. Agitation among the Petersburg Garrison increased (at the Military-Technical School, in the 26th Artillery Brigade, in the Pavlovsky and Preobrazhensky Life Guard regiments). Soldiers and sailors went on strike in Kronstadt on 26-27 October 1905 (see the article Kronstadt Rebellions of 1905-1906). Publishing work by parties and opposition groups took on large proportions. In autumn 1905, after the Decree of Autonomy for Universities, revolutionary students used Higher Education Institutions to carrying out mass-meetings and gatherings. At Petersburg University, in October, up to 50,000 workers were present at 20 mass meetings, and the Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies held meetings there on several occasions (memorial plaque installed). Professional unions played an important role in the revolution, with the first ones (made up of printers, clerks and accountants, and salesmen) formed in St. Petersburg at the very beginning of the Revolution, and the majority of others (44) formed from October to December 1905; in November, the Central Bureau of Professional Unions was created. In October, trying to maintain order in the capital, the government concentrated up to 50 infantry battalions, 18 cavalry squadrons and 17 Cossack companies in the city. With a backdrop of growing public discontent, Emperor Nicholas II had to sign the October Manifesto on 17 October 1905, introducing democratic liberties and the establishment of people's representation in the country's government. This act partially enabled the government to neutralize the liberals. Leaders of the forming bourgeois parties, including D.N. Shipov, M.A. Stakhovich, A.I. Guchkov, and Prince E.N. Trubetskoy, held negotiations with the Head of the Council of Ministers, Count S. Y. Witte, about the formation of a "constitutional" cabinet of ministers, which did not succeed. After 17 October, several liberal parties were formed, including the Union of 17 October, the Party of the Right Order, the Trade-Industrial Party, the Party of Constitutionalist-Democrats (Cadets), and the Party for Democratic Reforms. Bolsheviks viewed the October Manifesto negatively, and decided to continue the October strike. On 18 October, a procession of 80.000 workers made its way to the House of Preliminary Confinement with a demand that political prisoners should be liberated. On 21 October, partial amnesty was announced. On that day the Petersburg Soviet decided to cease the October strike. On 22 October, for the first time in Russia, newspapers were published without censorial revision. The governing body of the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries decided to stop terrorist activity, considering it not relevant to the new constitutional order, and the party's militant wing was disbanded. In October-November 1905, for the first time in the country, an eight-hour workday was introduced in all factories and plants in St. Petersburg without the need for prior authorization. In November 1905, a strike of solidarity with the Kronstadt sailors and striking workers in Poland was held in St. Petersburg. At the end of 1905, the government started its attack. On 26 November, the head of the Petersburg Soviet, G.S. Khrustalev-Nosar was arrested, and soon almost all members of the Soviet and its Executive Committee were arrested; on 2 December, 1905, a law was passed and published concerning the persecution of those participating in strikes from rail roads, post-offices, telegraphs, and military plants, eight democratic newspapers were closed. In November 1905, the monarchical Union of the Russian People appeared, uniting extreme right groups; and in May 1906, an organization appeared called United Nobility, headed by the Count A.A. Bobrinsky. The December strike of 1905, in support of the Moscow armed revolt, was a considerable demonstration by the Petersburg proletariat. After it began, a gradual slump in the revolutionary movement occurred. On 27 April, 1906, the First State Duma opened at Tauride Palace; on 8 July it was dissolved, and protesting deputies were tried. In response, the board of the Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries appealed for an immediate start of armed resistance against the government. In 1906, terrorist Socialist-Revolutionaries killed G. A. Gapon; Chief of City Administration, V. F. Launitz,; Commander in Chief of the Semenovsky Life Guards Regiment, General G.A. Min; and the Chief Military Prosecutor, V.P. Pavlov, among others. The maximalists, an extreme left-wing group, splintered off from the Socialist-Revolutionary Party (in St. Petersburg their organization was headed by M.I. Sokolov), and blew up P.A. Stolypin's dacha at Aptekarsky Island on 12 August 1906 (32 people were killed, 22 were wounded; Stolypin did not suffer); on 14 October 1906, they managed to steal state funds from Fonarny Lane. In St. Petersburg, other anarchist-communist groups also operated, including those from within the community and local chapters of other groups. With the participation of outside groups, an industrial-consumer society called The Labour Union was established in St. Petersburg in August 1906, and was a legal organization that united 8,500 workers. From the end of 1906 to the beginning of 1907, the St. Petersburg Province was again the most active in regards to strike activity (St. Petersburg workers made up 70% of participants in the January Political Strike of 1907, marking the second anniversary of Bloody Sunday). The dissolution of the Second State Duma by the government on 3 June 1907, and a change in election laws, did not cause a serious reaction from the masses, and marked the end of the Revolution.

References: Начало первой русской революции, январь - март 1905 г. М., 1955; Революция 1905-1907 годов в России и ее всемирно-историческое значение. М., 1976; На баррикадах: Воспоминания участников революции 1905-1907 гг. в Петербурге. Л., 1984.

Z. P. Solovyeva.

Bobrinsky Alexey Alexandrovich
Gapon Georgy Apollonovich
Guchkov Alexander Ivanovich
Khrustalev-Nosar Georgy Stepanovich
Launitz Vladimir Fedorovich von der
Min Georgy Alexandrovich
Nicholas II, Emperor
Pavlov Vladimir Petrovich
Shidlovsky Nikolay Vladimirovich
Shipov Dmitry Nikolaevich
Sokolov Mikhail Ivanovich
Stakhovich Alexander Alexandrovich
Stolypin Peter Arkadievich
Trepov Dmitry Fedorovich
Trubetskoy Evgeny Nikolaevich
Witte Sergey Yulievich, Count

Начало первой русской революции, янв. - март 1905 г. М., 1955
На баррикадах: Воспоминания участников революции 1905-1907 гг. в Петербурге. Л., 1984
Революция 1905 - 1907 годов в России и ее всемирно-историческое значение. М., 1976

The subject Index
Free Economic Society
State Duma
October General Political Strike of 1905
Petersburg Soviet of Workers' Deputies
Pavlovsky Life Guards Regiment
Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment
Kronstadt Rebellions of 1905-1906
State University, St. Petersburg
House of Preliminary Detention, prison
Tauride Palace
Semenovsky Life Guards Regiment


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