As the turn of the century passed, there was a lot going on in Russia. The nation was still working out the kinks of a national industrialization that had only really started twenty years ago, and had not gotten very far. There were many, many problems here, as many political activists were clear to point out. Some of these had to do with the outrageous hours being worked, the extremely poor working conditions, and the working class’ inability to represent themselves. One of these political activists was a guy by the name of Vladimir Lenin. You might have heard of him. His general take on the issue was that the country as a whole needed Marxism of a sort. He emphasized the need to disregard the standing “tactics-as-plan” idealism that had taken hold of a fair branch of politically minded peoples in favor of a more real, traditionalist Marxism, with a few minor adaptations for the Russian system. The thoughts of Lenin and others like him had some good effect along with the works done by Father Georgi Gapon to entitle the workers of Russia to a form of suffrage that was indeed lacking in those times.
As the general situation got worse, the workers were urged to strike until there was a written declaration of their rights, which was embodied in what was called the October Manifesto. The strikes reached a point where the only possible routes that Tsar Nicholas II had left available for himself were to allow such a doctrine to exist, or to create an empire where the people were oppressed by a military hand. Logically, the Tsar went with the first option following the guidance and pleas of Sergei Witte. So, Nicholas II gave in, and had the October Manifesto penned, and signed giving the common man the rights to conscience, speech, and public gathering. In the general scheme of things, they didn’t get too much, but it was a first step. They could still be legally thrown in jail without trial, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.
All of the information listed on this post comes from:
or my own knowledge of these issues.