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The American Revolution - OverSimplified (Part 1)

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Not surprisingly, strikes increased steadily from the middle of , and so did crime; but, for the most part, people suffered and endured, scouring the city for food. Working class women in St. Petersburg reportedly spent about forty hours a week in food lines, begging, turning to prostitution or crime, tearing down wooden fences to keep stoves heated for warmth, grumbling about the rich, and wondering when and how this would all come to an end. Government officials responsible for public order worried about how long people's patience would last. A report by the St. Petersburg branch of the security police, the Okhrana , in October , warned bluntly of "the possibility in the near future of riots by the lower classes of the empire enraged by the burdens of daily existence.

Nicholas was blamed for all of these crises, and what little support he had left began to crumble. As discontent grew, the State Duma issued a warning to Nicholas in November It stated that, inevitably, a terrible disaster would grip the country unless a constitutional form of government was put in place. Nicholas ignored these warnings and Russia's Tsarist regime collapsed a few months later during the February Revolution of One year later, the Tsar and his entire family were executed.

At the beginning of February, Petrograd workers began several strikes and demonstrations. The next day, a series of meetings and rallies were held for International Women's Day , which gradually turned into economic and political gatherings. Demonstrations were organised to demand bread , and these were supported by the industrial working force who considered them a reason for continuing the strikes. The women workers marched to nearby factories bringing out over 50, workers on strike. Students, white-collar workers and teachers joined the workers in the streets and at public meetings.

To quell the riots, the Tsar looked to the army. At least , troops were available in the capital, but most were either untrained or injured. Historian Ian Beckett suggests around 12, could be regarded as reliable, but even these proved reluctant to move in on the crowd, since it included so many women.

It was for this reason that when, on 11 March [ O. The response of the Duma, urged on by the liberal bloc, was to establish a Temporary Committee to restore law and order; meanwhile, the socialist parties establish the Petrograd Soviet to represent workers and soldiers. The remaining loyal units switched allegiance the next day. The Tsar directed the royal train back towards Petrograd, which was stopped 14 March [ O. He did so on 15 March [ O. But the Grand Duke realised that he would have little support as ruler, so he declined the crown on 16 March [ O.

The immediate effect of the February Revolution was a widespread atmosphere of elation and excitement in Petrograd. The center-left was well represented, and the government was initially chaired by a liberal aristocrat, Prince Georgy Yevgenievich Lvov , a member of the Constitutional Democratic party KD. The model for the soviet were workers' councils that had been established in scores of Russian cities during the Revolution. In February , striking workers elected deputies to represent them and socialist activists began organizing a citywide council to unite these deputies with representatives of the socialist parties.

On 27 February, socialist Duma deputies, mainly Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, took the lead in organizing a citywide council. The Petrograd Soviet met in the Tauride Palace , the same building where the new government was taking shape.


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The leaders of the Petrograd Soviet believed that they represented particular classes of the population, not the whole nation. They also believed Russia was not ready for socialism. So they saw their role as limited to pressuring hesitant "bourgeoisie" to rule and to introduce extensive democratic reforms in Russia the replacement of the monarchy by a republic, guaranteed civil rights, a democratic police and army, abolition of religious and ethnic discrimination, preparation of elections to a constituent assembly, and so on. The relationship between these two major powers was complex from the beginning and would shape the politics of The representatives of the Provisional Government agreed to "take into account the opinions of the Soviet of Workers' Deputies", though they were also determined to prevent "interference in the actions of the government", which would create "an unacceptable situation of dual power.

Although the Soviet leadership initially refused to participate in the "bourgeois" Provisional Government, Alexander Kerensky , a young and popular lawyer and a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party SRP , agreed to join the new cabinet, and became an increasingly central figure in the government, eventually taking leadership of the Provisional Government.

As minister of war and later Prime Minister, Kerensky promoted freedom of speech, released thousands of political prisoners, did his very best to continue the war effort and even organised another offensive which, however, was no more successful than its predecessors. Nevertheless, Kerensky still faced several great challenges, highlighted by the soldiers, urban workers and peasants, who claimed that they had gained nothing by the revolution:. The political group that proved most troublesome for Kerensky, and would eventually overthrow him, was the Bolshevik Party, led by Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin had been living in exile in neutral Switzerland and, due to democratization of politics after the February Revolution, which legalized formerly banned political parties, he perceived the opportunity for his Marxist revolution. Although return to Russia had become a possibility, the war made it logistically difficult. Lenin and his associates, however, had to agree to travel to Russia in a sealed train: Germany would not take the chance that he would foment revolution in Germany.

Russian Revolution

After passing through the front, he arrived in Petrograd in April These included that the soviets take power as seen in the slogan "all power to the soviets" and denouncing the liberals and social revolutionaries in the Provisional Government, forbidding co-operation with it. With Lenin's arrival, the popularity of the Bolsheviks increased steadily. Over the course of the spring, public dissatisfaction with the Provisional Government and the war, in particular among workers, soldiers and peasants, pushed these groups to radical parties.

Despite growing support for the Bolsheviks, buoyed by maxims that called most famously for "all power to the Soviets," the party held very little real power in the moderate-dominated Petrograd Soviet. In fact, historians such as Sheila Fitzpatrick have asserted that Lenin's exhortations for the Soviet Council to take power were intended to arouse indignation both with the Provisional Government, whose policies were viewed as conservative, and the Soviet itself, which was viewed as subservient to the conservative government.

By some historians' accounts, Lenin and his followers were unprepared for how their groundswell of support, especially among influential worker and soldier groups, would translate into real power in the summer of On 18 June, the Provisional Government launched an attack against Germany that failed miserably. Soon after, the government ordered soldiers to go to the front, reneging on a promise.

The soldiers refused to follow the new orders. The sailors and soldiers, along with Petrograd workers, took to the streets in violent protest, calling for "all power to the Soviets. In the aftermath, Lenin fled to Finland under threat of arrest while Trotsky , among other prominent Bolsheviks, was arrested. The July Days confirmed the popularity of the anti-war, radical Bolsheviks, but their unpreparedness at the moment of revolt was an embarrassing gaffe that lost them support among their main constituent groups: The Bolshevik failure in the July Days proved temporary.

The Bolsheviks had undergone a spectacular growth in membership. Whereas, in February , the Bolsheviks were limited to only 24, members, by September there were , members of the Bolshevik faction. Petersburg and Moscow behind the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries, by September the Bolsheviks were in the majority in both cities. In August, poor or misleading communication led General Lavr Kornilov , the recently appointed Supreme Commander of Russian military forces, to believe that the Petrograd government had already been captured by radicals, or was in serious danger thereof.

To secure his position, Kerensky had to ask for Bolshevik assistance. He also sought help from the Petrograd Soviet, which called upon armed Red Guards to "defend the revolution". The Kornilov Affair failed largely due to the efforts of the Bolsheviks, whose influence over railroad and telegraph workers proved vital in stopping the movement of troops. With his coup failing, Kornilov surrendered and was relieved of his position.

The Bolsheviks' role in stopping the attempted coup further strengthened their position.

How the 'Polish Question' Helped Start the Disintegration of the Russian Empire

Growing numbers of socialists and lower-class Russians viewed the government less and less as a force in support of their needs and interests. The Bolsheviks benefited as the only major organized opposition party that had refused to compromise with the Provisional Government, and they benefited from growing frustration and even disgust with other parties, such as the Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, who stubbornly refused to break with the idea of national unity across all classes.

In Finland, Lenin had worked on his book State and Revolution [28] and continued to lead his party, writing newspaper articles and policy decrees. By October, he returned to Petrograd St. Petersburg , aware that the increasingly radical city presented him no legal danger and a second opportunity for revolution. Recognising the strength of the Bolsheviks, Lenin began pressing for the immediate overthrow of the Kerensky government by the Bolsheviks. Lenin was of the opinion that taking power should occur in both St. Petersburg and Moscow simultaneously, parenthetically stating that it made no difference which city rose up first, but expressing his opinion that Moscow may well rise up first.

The resolution was passed 10—2 Lev Kamenev and Grigory Zinoviev prominently dissenting and the October Revolution began. It marked the beginning of the spread of communism in the 20th century. It was far less sporadic than the revolution of February and came about as the result of deliberate planning and coordinated activity to that end.

Though Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik Party, it has been argued that since Lenin was not present during the actual takeover of the Winter Palace, it was really Trotsky's organization and direction that led the revolution, merely spurred by the motivation Lenin instigated within his party. On 7 November , Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin led his leftist revolutionaries in a revolt against the ineffective Provisional Government Russia was still using the Julian calendar at the time, so period references show a 25 October date.

The October revolution ended the phase of the revolution instigated in February, replacing Russia's short-lived provisional parliamentary government with government by soviets , local councils elected by bodies of workers and peasants. Liberal and monarchist forces, loosely organized into the White Army , immediately went to war against the Bolsheviks' Red Army , in a series of battles that would become known as the Russian Civil War.

Soviet membership was initially freely elected, but many members of the Socialist Revolutionary Party , anarchists, and other leftists created opposition to the Bolsheviks through the soviets themselves. The elections to the Russian Constituent Assembly took place in November The most notable instances of this anti-Bolshevik mentality were expressed in the Tambov rebellion , —, and the Kronstadt rebellion in March These movements, which made a wide range of demands and lacked effective coordination, were eventually defeated along with the White Army during the Civil War.

The Russian Civil War, which broke out in shortly after the October Revolution, brought death and suffering to millions of people regardless of their political orientation. Though the Allied nations, using external interference, provided substantial military aid to the loosely knit anti-Bolshevik forces, they were ultimately defeated. The Bolsheviks firstly assumed power in Petrograd, expanding their rule outwards. They eventually reached the Easterly Siberian Russian coast in Vladivostok , 4 years after the war began, an occupation that is believed to have ended all significant military campaigns in the nation.

Less than one year later the last area controlled by the White Army, the Ayano-Maysky District , directly to the north of the Krai containing Vladivostok, was given up when General Anatoly Pepelyayev capitulated in Several revolts were initiated against the Bolsheviks and their army near the end of the war, notably the Kronstadt Rebellion.

This was a naval mutiny engineered by Soviet Baltic sailors, former Red Army soldiers, and the people of Kronstadt. This armed uprising was fought against the antagonizing Bolshevik economic policies that farmers were subjected to, including seizures of grain crops by the Communists. When delegates representing the Kronstadt sailors arrived at Petrograd for negotiations, they raised 15 demands primarily pertaining to the Russian right to freedom. The Government then responded with an armed suppression of these revolts and suffered 10 thousand casualties before entering the city of Kronstadt.

During the Civil War, Nestor Makhno led a Ukrainian anarchist movement, the Black Army allied to the Bolsheviks thrice, one of the powers ending the alliance each time. However, a Bolshevik force under Mikhail Frunze destroyed the Makhnovist movement, when the Makhnovists refused to merge into the Red Army. In addition, the so-called " Green Army " peasants defending their property against the opposing forces played a secondary role in the war, mainly in the Ukraine.

ADDITIONAL MEDIA

The Bolsheviks executed the tsar and his family on 16 July In August the Kerensky government evacuated the Romanovs to Tobolsk in the Urals , to protect them from the rising tide of revolution. After the Bolsheviks came to power in October , the conditions of their imprisonment grew stricter and talk of putting Nicholas on trial increased.


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  7. As the counter revolutionary White movement gathered force, leading to full-scale civil war by the summer, the Romanovs were moved during April and May to Yekaterinburg , a militant Bolshevik stronghold. During the early morning of 16 July, Nicholas, Alexandra, their children, their physician, and several servants were taken into the basement and shot. That the order came from the top has long been believed, although there is a lack of hard evidence.

    The execution may have been carried out on the initiative of local Bolshevik officials, or it may have been an option pre-approved in Moscow should White troops approach Yekaterinburg. Radzinsky noted that Lenin's bodyguard personally delivered the telegram ordering the execution and that he was ordered to destroy the evidence. Leon Trotsky said that the goal of socialism in Russia would not be realized without the success of the world revolution. Indeed, a revolutionary wave caused by the Russian Revolution lasted until Despite initial hopes for success in the German Revolution of —19 , in the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic and others like it, no other Marxist movement at the time succeeded in keeping power in its hands.

    This issue is subject to conflicting views on communist history by various Marxist groups and parties. Joseph Stalin later rejected this idea, stating that socialism was possible in one country. Few events in historical research have been as conditioned by political influences as the October Revolution.

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    The historiography of the Revolution generally divides into three camps: Lenin's biographer Robert Service , says he, "laid the foundations of dictatorship and lawlessness. Lenin had consolidated the principle of state penetration of the whole society, its economy and its culture.

    The October Revolution and the National Question

    Lenin had practised terror and advocated revolutionary amoralism. Dates are correct for the Julian calendar , which was used in Russia until It was twelve days behind the Gregorian calendar during the 19th century and thirteen days behind it during the 20th century. Unfortunately, our editorial approach may not be able to accommodate all contributions. Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article.


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    Please note that our editors may make some formatting changes or correct spelling or grammatical errors, and may also contact you if any clarifications are needed. The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Aug 21, See Article History. Russian Revolution of Learn More in these related Britannica articles: While Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey all survived their crises of and found the will and stamina for one last year of war, Russia succumbed.

    In three years of war Russia had mobilized roughly 10 percent of its entire population…. One of the turning points in the struggle for power was the attempt by Gen. Lavr Kornilov, who had been appointed commander in chief, to take control of Petrograd in August and wipe out the soviet. Aleksandr Kerensky, the prime…. By it seemed to Lenin that the war would never end and that the prospect of revolution was rapidly receding. But in the week of March 8—15, the starving, freezing, war-weary workers and soldiers of Petrograd until , St.

    The Russian Revolution of came about in a way that no one, not even Lenin, had predicted. Its immediate impetus was World War I, which was taking a heavy toll on Russian soldiers at the front and on peasants at home. History Uzbekistan In Uzbekistan: Russian and Soviet rule Europe In history of Europe: The trappings of dictatorship Czechoslovakia In Czechoslovak history: Struggle for independence Estonia In Estonia: Independence Finland In Finland: Return to autonomy France In France: Internal conflict on the left Kiev In Kiev: The revolutionary period Latvia In Latvia: Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.