The October Manifesto was created out of the hope for changed, signed out of fear, and not fully used until the “Fundamental Laws” was written almost 6 months later.
The year of 1905 proved to hold the biggest trouble for the Russian Tsar. To kick off the year with Bloody Sunday, then continue it by the losses in the Russo-Japanese War, then massive strikes all over Russia, with the closing of factories, schools, and theaters. The autocracy needed to fix the unrest which was prevalent throughout his country. He turned to Sergei Witte for an answer. Military action or reform?
Sergei Witte was the “architect of the manifesto,” who had felt the “Russia had out grown its existing order and is striking towards a legal order based on civil liberty.” The October Manifesto was a means to give the people hope without taking too much power away from the autocracy. The Manifesto, which was signed on October 17, 1905, promised the people civil liberties, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and that no laws would be implemented without the agreement of the Duma. Though it does not say anywhere in the Manifesto that the Duma can create new laws or act like a normally functioning legislative body like we know it in the West.
The Manifesto was well received at first, but the broadness of the Manifesto sparked more conflict. The workers and peasantry felt that they were not getting the proper change. They wanted immediate “practical social and economic change.” The Manifesto was a short term fix of the chaos that was erupting all over Russia. Nicolas II put a cork in the bottle of the Revolution without realizing that the bottle was going to shatter under the pressure. But the Tsar’s “failed implementation of the Manifesto” was the driving force in the Revolution of 1917.
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