Main Problems Facing Russia in 1894 & How Had They Been Dealt with by 1914

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The last Tsar Nicholas II ascended the throne in 1894 and was faced with a country that was trying to free itself from its autocratic regime. The serfs had recently been emancipated, the industry and economy was just starting to develop and opposition to the Tsar was building up. Russia was still behind Europe in terms of the political regime, the social conditions and the economy. Nicholas II who was a weak and very influenced by his mother and his wife had to deal with Russia’s troubles during his reign. In order to ascertain how successfully Russia dealt with its problems by 1914, this essay will examine the October Manifesto and the split of the opposition, how the Tsar became more reactionary after the 1905 revolution, Stolypin’s agricultural reforms and the effect of Witte’s industrial reforms on Russia until 1914.

Just after the 1905 Revolution, Minister Witte drafted the October Manifesto in order to appease the anger of the revolutionaries. The document granted freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and the possibility to have meetings and associations. The Tsar promised that people could not be imprisoned without a trial first. The main point of the October Manifesto was the creation of a National Duma. All laws would have to be approved by this Duma before becoming real laws. This October Manifesto saved the Tsar Nicholas from a bigger revolution as it split the revolutionary groups which made it easier to break them apart. The peasants were content with the promise of land reforms as a result agricultural unrests decreased noticeably. The liberals were satisfied by the creation of a National Duma and the decrease of censorship as it would enable them to express their thoughts and beliefs. The division of the opposition made it easier for the Tsar to regain control of his country. The different opposition groups argued against each other and refused to work in collaboration as they had different methods and aims. The Liberals, who were originally made up of the Bourgeoisie, believed in constitutionalism which means that they did not want to overthrow the Tsar, merely wanted him to share his power with the people. However, after the 1905 revolution, the Liberals split in two: the Oktobrists, who were satisfied with the terms of the October Manifesto and did not want to ask more of the Tsar and the Kadets who were led by Milyukov and believed that the October Manifesto was only the first step towards power-sharing. The Social Revolutionaries, composed of peasants, was another opposition party under Nicholas II’s reign. They wanted an immediate revolution and planned to distribute the land they would gain to the peasants. However, as the party started arguing about what the faster way to get what they wanted, they split because their difference of opinions made it difficult to collaborate. Some members wanted to allow the proletariat to participate and create alliances while others believed that the Social Revolutionaries should only be made up of peasants and refused to co-operate with other parties. This party was feared by the government as they had planned the successful assassinations of Sergei Witte and Stolypin. However, they were undermined by the police and spies who made the organization of possible uprisings difficult. The last major opposition party, the Social Democrats was composed of the Proletariat, or the working class. They split in two during the 1903 London Conference and divided into the Mensheviks, who were led by Martov and who believed that a revolution should not eb rushed, and the Bolshevicks who were led by Lenin and believed that it was a good time to have a revolution as the government was unstable. Not long after the October Manifesto was approved, Tsar Nicholas II passed the Fundamental Laws which were published before the opening of the First Duma. These laws stated that the Tsar could appoint his ministers, foreign affairs were his responsibility and the Parliament should not...
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