1905: The Seeds of Revolution

Natalie, Nima, Grant

Russo-Japanese War (1904 – 05)

Brief Outline:
Russians wished to expand mainly into the Far East, gained control of strategic locations in Manchuria.
Japanese eventually forced them to abort their wishes of expansion, and subsequently gain control of Korea and territories in Manchuria.
Russia gains control of strategically important locations in Manchuria, including Port Arthur and won rights to extend their railroad (Trans- Siberian Railroad) across Chinese territory in Manchuria to the Russian seaport of Vladivostok. This gave them control of an important part of Manchurian territory.

War begins on Feb 8th 1904 when main Japanese fleet launches a surprise attack on a Russian naval squadron at Port Arthur. Port Arthur was a strategically important port located at the tip of the Liatung Peninsula in southern Manchuria, that came into Russia’s control in 1898.

Japanese forces also launch a campaign in Korea in March 1904 and quickly overrun the country.

Japanese forces cut off the port from main Russian forces and pushed northwards. Main Russian forces fell back to
Overview of Russo-Japan War
Mukden. After several failed assaults on Port Arthur the Japanese fell back and resorted to lay siege to the port. Despite having enough resources to continue to resist the siege, Port Arthur’s commander eventually surrendered the port to the Japanese, considered an act of incompetence and corruption.

Final land confrontation at Mukten (Manchurian mainland) resulted in a Japanese victory, however resulted in heavy causalities on both sides - 89000 Russians and 71000 Japanese troops dead.

Japan was financially exhausted, however they gained the upper hand as a result of the Battle of Tsushima, a decisive naval battle in the Tsushima Strait. Japan was able to secure control of the sea and their land campaign could continue.
Defeat at Tsushima along with already growing political unrest in Russia (war was not popular) resulted in Russia surrendering.

Theodore Roosevelt served as a mediator at the following peace conference held at Portsmouth. Treaty of Portsmouth was made – most notable causes:

- Japan gained control of Liaotung Peninsula (including Port Arthur) and the South Manchurian railroad, as well as half of Sakhalin Island.
- Russia vacates Manchuria, territory restored to China.
- Japanese control of Korea recognized.
- October Manifesto issued just months later by Tsar Nicholas II due to a revolution, which ended unlimited autocratic rule in Russia and ushered in a constitutional monarchy.

Bloody Sunday, St. Petersburg, 1905
Russia is plagued by political and civil unrest, particularly among the laborers. Thousands of workers and family members

"Bloody Sunday", St. Petersburg

attend a peaceful demonstration led by Father Gapon in St. Petersburg, to march upon the Winter Palace and show theTsar their petitions for reform. Singing hymns and patriotic songs, the crowd proceeded without interference towards the palace, which was the Tsars official residence (however, at the time, the tsar was not present in St. Petersburg). Forces guarding the Palace fired upon the peaceful protestors and the ensuing bloodbath resulted in hundreds of innocent lives lost. The Tsar, though not present at the Palace at the time, took the blame for the deaths, which resulted a spike in hate and anger towards him and the autocratic ruling system that was in place. This tragedy sparked a wildfire of civil unrest, political dissent, and riots throughout major cities in Russia, pushed the economy into despair, and contributed to the upcoming Revolution of 1905.

1905 Revolution
1905 Revolution

The revolution was started by Bloody Sunday. After the terrible happening of Bloody Sunday, people from all over Russia went into protest about the government. The peasants and workers came together with the middle class, intelligentsia, and minority national groups opposing Tsar’s monarchy. Strikes took part all over the country against the Czar. Also, there was a general strike instantly after the trauma of Bloody Sunday. St Petersburg Soviet of Workers’ Deputies was created on October 13 1905. This was Russia’s first political general strike that started and everyone stopped working to go against the Tsar. This got him to issue the October Manifesto. The revolt was finally over after he remained in power.

Creation and Failure of the Dumas
The Duma was any carious representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of parliament. The Duma is also a term for the council to early Russian Rulers and for city councils in Imperial Russia and city and regional legislative bodies in Russian Federation. The term “duma” means to think, or to consider. The Dumas typically constituted the lower house of the Russian Parliament, and the State Council was the upper house.
After the revolution of 1905, the people of Russia felt they were in need of a constitutional monarchy that would address the needs and include the opinions of the people. On October 30th, 1905, Tsar Nicholas II established the Duma in the October Manifesto. The tsar promised it would be a representative assembly and that its approval would be necessary for enactment of legislation. However, before the first Duma met, fundamental laws issued in April 1906 took away the Dumas control over state ministers and portions of the state budget. These fundamental laws also limited its ability to initiate legislation effectively. The Dumas also did not receive cooperation of ministers or the Emperor, who retained the right to rule by decree when the Duma was not in session. The government expected the Dumas to be conservative by electing the first two Dumas indirectly in a system that gave undue representation to peasantry. This did not s
Duma Building
atisfy the needs of a large portion of people in Russia and led to the Dumas being dominated by liberal and socialist opposition groups. These groups demanded extensive reforms. The Tsar had to quickly dissolve the Dumas before an outbreak of violence.

In 1907 the Prime minister reduced radical minority groups by restricting franchise, which caused the third Duma elected to be conservative. The third Dumas supported the government’s reforms and lasted for the full five-year term. The fourth Dumas elected was also conservative, but as World War 1 progressed, it became dissatisfied with the governments incompetence and negligence, and to the way the government was handling the war. By 1915 the Duma had become the focal point of opposition to the imperial regime. Reacting to war failures and the hostile Duma, the Tsar took over as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and discontinued the Duma. In February 1916, the Duma reconvened because of the incompetence of the Tsar and his government. In the chaos of the February Revolution of 1917, members of the Duma assumed control of the country, forming the Russian Provisional Government. In the October Revolution, the Provisional Government was overthrown by the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks appointed themselves as leaders of various government ministries and took control of the countryside.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Federation in 1993 replaced its old constitution with a new document that revied the State Duma for the lower house of the newly created Federal Assembly, or Russian National Parliament. The new Duma consisted of 450 members elected by universal suffrage to a four-year term. The revived Duma was the chief legislative chamber and passed legislation by majority vote. The Duma had the right to approve the prime minister and other high government officials nominated by the president.
The State Duma exists today, and has the power to consider all bills before the Federation Council.

Important Questions
Explain how the year of 1905 planted the seeds of revolution within Russia.

The year of 1905 was a particularly turbulent year for Russia. A series of embarrassments and failures had left Russia’s citizens in a state of political unrest. Other failures, such as the Russo-Japanese War, had left the economy at a stand
Tsar Nicholas II
still., Russia would have to go through massive reforms in order to make a rebound. With the aftermath of the tragedy known as Russia’s “Bloody Sunday” brought hate and anger towards the tsar and autocratic rule in Russia. People had had enough of what they saw as a corrupt, inefficient, and oppressive government, and in order to brighten Russia’s future, revolution was the next step.

Do you believe one particular event prompted revolutionary thought more than another?

Russia has had a history of failed governments, oppressive rulers, and embarrassments abroad. However, 1905 was a year which definitely started to push Russia further and further towards revolution. However, these events that took place during 1905 all equally affected Russia, in one way or another. The Russo-Japanese War was a major military failure and resulted in a crippled economy and a loss of territory. Bloody Sunday was an eye opener for people, who began to question the tsarist government and whether it was the best option for them, and contributed to the Revolution of 1905. Though the establishment of the State Duma was a good idea, in practice it ended up failing and only worsened the already widespread political unrest in the country. Each event contributed to another, almost set up in a domino effect, and it only took a single push to bring Russia into a full fledged revolution.

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“Russo- Japanese War (Russo-Japanese history) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia