January 22, 1905 is a day that will live infamously in Russian history. A day that should have been known for its peaceful protest and instead ended up being the start of the 1905 revolutions in Russia.
It all started with the Orthodox priest Georgii Gapon, who 1904 had organized thousands of people into his ‘Assembly of Russian Factory workers’. This group, originally funded by the police had a goal of “weaning workers away from the radicals and bolstering their commitment to autocracy by providing safe outlets” (Freeze 250). When in December of 1904, members of the assembly were let go from a factory in Putilov for no reason, the assembly decided to take action. They started with a city wide strike and then decided to participate in a mass march on the winter palace of tsar Nicholas. They drafted a petition that they intended to present to the tsar when they reached the palace. The petition asked for both higher wages and shorter hours for workers. The petition also had an aspect of liberal political programme calling for ” a constitution and free elections based on direct, universal manhood suffrage” (Freeze 251).
In response to this, tsar Nicholas simply did not show up at the palace, thereby making it impossible for him to receive and sign the assembly’s petition. But more than just ignoring the petition, Nicholas also ordered his military units to fire at the approaching petitioners.
This is the decision that caused public opinion in favor of the tsar to turn. Once people learned that that over a hundred of the peaceful protesters had been killed on the tsar’s order, it became clear that they it was time for a revolution.
This day came to be known as Bloody Sunday. There were two main groups that influenced these revolutions, the peasants and the working class. These are also the two groups that were most directly influenced by the Bloody Sunday deaths. The outrage and anger that stemmed from this event led to the 1905 revolution.
Freeze, Gregory L. Russia A History. 3rd ed. Oxford University Press, 2009. 199-233. Print.