The Original Mr. October

With the signing of the October Manifesto came a new era of rule in Russia. No longer was the country under an autocracy; a constitutional monarchy was in the works. The document granted civil liberties and even created a legislative body known as the Duma. In support of this legislation came a group initially known as the Union of October 17, but today is famously known as the Octobrists.

The leader of this group Alexander Guchkov (who truly deserves the “Mr. October” moniker, sorry Reggie) wanted the Tsar to finally undertake the reforms they had sought to complete. With the signing of the October Manifesto, he got his wish, and the Octobrist party could finally move forward.

The Octobrists’ agenda featured four main parts:

1. The preservation of the unity and indivisibility of the Russia state, whilst allowing individual nationalities significant rights in the cultural field;
2. The development and strengthening of the foundations of a constitutional monarchy with a representative assembly elected on a broad franchise…
3. The guaranteeing of civil rights, and the inviolability of the individual, his residence, correspondence and property.
4. The urgent summoning of the State Duma to put through political reforms… to deal with such matters as

  • the peasant question- the peasantry should be granted the same civil rights as the rest of the population; peasant land-holding should be extended and regulated
  • workers’ insurance, a limitation of the working day and the freedom to form trade unions and to strike
  • the development of local self-government
  • measures on education
  • judicial and administrative reforms
  • economic and financial measures to achieve a more rational and just tax system (Source: D.N Shipov, Vospominaniia i dumy o perezhitom. Moscow, 1918, pp. 404-6. via Web)

The group wanted peace throughout Russia and between the classes, and they wanted a stronger government to help with these reforms. By the third Duma, the Octobrist party held the majority. This, however, did not help with speeding the pace of the reforms.

Guchkov was elected to be the speaker of the Duma in 1910 (interestingly enough, after this dueling incident), but as chairman Pyotr Stolypin “became more and more violent and reactionary,” the Octobrists were forced out of office and Guchkov resigned.


COUNT WOUNDED IN DUEL.: Guchkoff, Leader of Russian Octobrists, Shoots Count Uvaroff. New York Times (1857-1922); Dec 1, 1909; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010)

DUMA RECONVENES TO-DAY.: Octobrists Instruct Their Deputies to Press for Reforms. New York Times (1857-1922); Oct 23, 1909; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The New York Times (1851-2010)

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