October Manifesto: The End of Autocracy

Order & Chaos

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This specific document allowed opportunity for political reforms, put forth by Tsar Nicholas II, during the beginning of the 1905 Revolution. Though this road was paved with violent protests and debates about what Russia will be facing for years to come, it gave promise to the idea of a State Duma. By having a national parliament that includes elected officials (State Duma), Russia was seeing a political transformation into democracy while leaving the Communist ways behind them. These political transformations forced a reform that liberals and moderate socialists oversaw and legitimized in order to better the life of Russian citizens. Change was prominently due to the revolution that was ongoing throughout the country, forcing Nicholas II to respond and make drastic political changes.

We the People

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A demand for democracy was evident where people wanted their civil rights, freedom of speech and press, and to have all laws confirmed by a State Duma, along with a constitution (Alpha History). Political groups unified together, while forming new ones as well in order to propose new political reforms. People turned to writing letters and petitions addressed to the tsar’s ministers and departments, recommending potential ideas for the political changes. This road to the revolution completely took a stance against the autocracy government that was empowered years before, and the Russian people began making it known that they were ready to fight for their liberty.

The Response: Is this the End?

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The purpose of the Manifesto was obvious, it aimed to split the opposition. However, while some may argue that it was an attempt to buy off the revolutionary movement, it was a document filled with policy of conciliation (Alpha History). While there was a political party struggle for the Social Democrats, Liberals were forced to be divided between moderates who professed satisfaction with the concessions, while progressives (Kadets) continued their demand for parliamentary reforms (Alpha History). Though Marxists saw this Manifesto as a transition from feudal tsarism to bourgeois parliamentary democracy, much criticism focused on how it did nothing for the impoverished and exploited factory-workers. “It was a document of high talk and abstractions that would do nothing to alleviate the suffering of the proletariat” (Alpha History). Even today, it is still argued if the Manifesto created liberal freedoms for individuals or if it was just a tsarist plot to end the revolutionary forces of 1905.

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3 thoughts on “October Manifesto: The End of Autocracy

Add yours

  1. This was a good post. You mentioned that many people wrote letters and petitions to the tsar’s ministers and departments. I wonder if those even got read, and if so, did some of them actually cause any change? That would be an interesting thing to look into.


  2. Great job dissecting the October Manifesto. I like how you point out that this legislation could have been an attempt to buy off the opposition. What do you think? Also – great job on mentioning all the various political groups during this time. Most assume that opposition to Nicholas II was “communist” but in reality there were a variety of different groups with different goals/beliefs/ideas/etc.


  3. I think your analytical instincts are spot on in terms of the objectives of the October manifesto. Also, I really appreciate the comment you made on another post contextualizing the current climate in the US in terms of anti-Semitism in Imperial Russia.


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