October Manifesto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Demonstration 17 October 1905 by Ilya Repin
(Russian Museum. St. Petersburg).

The October Manifesto (Russian: Октябрьский манифест, Манифест 17 октября), officially The Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order (Манифест об усовершенствовании государственного порядка), is a document that served as a precursor to the Russian Empire's first constitution, which would be adopted the next year. The Manifesto was issued by Emperor Nicholas II, under the influence of Count Sergei Witte, on 30 October [O.S. 17 October] 1905 as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905.

Prelude[edit]

While France, Great Britain, and the United States chose democracy in one form or another, the Russian Empire maintained its ancient autocratic government, headed by the Tsar. Russia also chose not to reform its economy, and enjoy the economic prosperity that industrialization had to offer. Instead of industrialization, Russia chose to continue its agricultural economy at the expense of the peasants who still remained 80 percent of the population and all but tied to the land, like the former serfs.[1] Russia, by remaining an agricultural based economy, created economic issues and conflict between the differing social classes, as well as the government of the Russian Autocracy. The conflict created by Russia’s economic and political issues climaxed in the months prior to October 1905, also known as the Russian Revolution of 1905.[2] On January 22, 1905 peaceful protesters attempted to bring a petition to the Tsar, as was the tradition.[3] However this protest was violently put down outside the winter palace when guards were ordered to fire on the protesters.[4] The result of the violent revolt of the protest would be known as "Bloody Sunday”.[5] The violent reaction to the protest increased the tension throughout Russia further. Unrest amongst the Russian people followed “Bloody Sunday. By the thousands people refused to go to work and general strike crippled the Empire.[6] Unrest eventually spread to the Russian countryside where peasants began to burn their master’s manors as the Russian people where revolting against the Autocracy.[7] With Russia’s communication, transportation and public services crippled by the strikes, Nicholas II was forced to act before he lost power completely.

Nicholas II Opposition to Reform[edit]

Although Russia was at a standstill with violent revolts terrorizing the nation, Nicholas II still opposed any reforms that involved limiting the Autocracy. Nicholas felt that it was not his place to limit a system created by his ancestors and he is even quoted as saying “I cannot squander a legacy that is not mine to squander.”[8] Nicholas could not bring himself to understand that the Russian people wished to limit his power, which he had increasingly used against them.[9]

Provisions[edit]

The October Manifesto addressed the unrest application throughout the Russian Empire and pledged to grant basic civil liberties, including

  • To grant to the population the essential foundations of civil freedoms based on the principles of genuine inviolability of the person, freedom of conscience, speech, assembly and association.
  • Without postponing the scheduled elections to the State Duma, to admit to participation in the Duma (insofar as possible in the short time that remains before it is scheduled to convene) of all those classes of the population that now are completely deprived of voting rights; and to leave the further development of a general statute on elections to the future legislative order.
  • To establish as an unbreakable rule that no law shall take effect without confirmation by the State Duma and that the elected representatives of the people shall be guaranteed the opportunity to participate in the supervision of the legality of the actions of our appointed officials.
  • The Manifesto also introduced universal male suffrage in Russia which was common in Western countries at the time.[10]

This document, although granting basic rights to the Russian people, did not guarantee that the Russian government would function in a democratic way. Instead the Manifesto just stated that the people now had basic rights and a voice in legislation.[11]

The Duma[edit]

One provision of the Manifesto was the creation of a legislative body in Russia, which was intended to limit the power of the Autocrat in favor of the Russian people.[12] The legislative body known as the Duma was flawed from its inception. One major flaw of the Duma was that the Tsar maintained the power to veto any legislation that he wished.[13] The Duma was also weakened by the influence of the Russian bureaucracy, as well as the fact that the body could be disbanded by Nicholas if he and the Duma could not reach an agreement.[14]

Opposition[edit]

The October Manifesto divided opposition to the Emperor. The Kadets were appeased by the idea of having freedom of speech and a truly representative government, and the Union of October 17 (informally known as the Octobrists, this party took its name from the October Manifesto). The Marxists, however, maintained that Nicholas had only made small concessions, arguing that the Duma was only a shell of democracy as it could not pass laws without the approval of the monarch, and that freedom of speech was heavily regulated.

Successes of the Manifesto[edit]

Successes of the Manifesto were immediate and short-lived. Almost immediately the strikes and the violence came to a stop.[15] Enthusiasm swept the nation as people realized their new-found freedom and the idea of having representation in the government.[16]

Failures of the Manifesto[edit]

The immediate success of the Manifesto was followed by long-term failure, and a return to the cycle of strikes and violence. Shortly after its introduction, strikes returned as the Autocracy began to affirm its power once again. Within months, executions began again, numbering over 1000.[17] The Government began attempting to suppress political parties; by 1906-7 much of Russia was under martial law.[18] It appears that instead of being a reform, the manifesto was just a short term ploy by Nicholas to regain order in Russia.

See also[edit]

October Manifesto full text

References[edit]

  • The Memoirs Of Count Witte New York & Toronto (1921), Armonk, New York (1990). ISBN 0-87332-571-0.
  • Fiehn, Terry. (1996). Russia & The USSR 1905-1941. Hodder Headline Group, London. ISBN 0-7195-5255-9.
  1. ^ Fitzpatrick, Shelia (1994). The Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 33. 
  2. ^ Fitzpatrick, Shelia (1994). The Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 32. 
  3. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  4. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  5. ^ Fitzpatrick, Shelia (1994). The Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 32. 
  6. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  7. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  8. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  9. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  10. ^ Seton Hall University, "Documents In Russian History-Manifesto of October 17th, 1905." Last modified February 22, 2009. Accessed November 19, 2013. http://academic.shu.edu/russianhistory/index.php/Manifesto_of_October_17th,_1905.
  11. ^ Kropotkin, G.M (2008). "The Ruling Bureaucracy and the "New Order" of Russian Statehood After the Manifesto of 17 October 1905,". Russian Studies in History 46 (4): 7. 
  12. ^ Kropotkin, G.M (2008). "The Ruling Bureaucracy and the "New Order" of Russian Statehood After the Manifesto of 17 October 1905,". Russian Studies in History 46 (4): 6. doi:10.2753/rsh1061-1983460401. 
  13. ^ Kropotkin, G.M (2008). "The Ruling Bureaucracy and the "New Order" of Russian Statehood After the Manifesto of 17 October 1905,". Russian Studies in History 46 (4): 6. doi:10.2753/rsh1061-1983460401. 
  14. ^ Kropotkin, G.M (2008). "The Ruling Bureaucracy and the "New Order" of Russian Statehood After the Manifesto of 17 October 1905,". Russian Studies in History 46 (4): 7. 
  15. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  16. ^ Eidelman, Tamara (2005). "The October Manifesto: Democracy Debuts in Russia". Russian life 5: 21. 
  17. ^ Fitzpatrick, Shelia (1994). The Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 33. 
  18. ^ Fitzpatrick, Shelia (1994). The Russian Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 33. 

Link[edit]

The October Manifesto of 1905