Video: Petition to the Tsar on January 9, 1905
2023 Author: Seth Attwood | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 22:42
January 9, 1905 - the day of the mass execution by the tsarist troops, by order of Nicholas II, of the peaceful procession of St. Petersburg workers heading for the Winter Palace with a petition to the tsar about their needs. Frightened by the growing struggle of the proletariat, the tsarist government decided to inflict a bloody massacre on the Petersburg workers. To this end, priest Gapon proposed to the workers a provocative plan for organizing a peaceful march to the tsar. The reactionary clergy, with the participation of bourgeois liberals, drew up the text of a loyal petition (request) to the tsar. On January 7 and 8, the petition was discussed at workers' meetings in St. Petersburg. The petition was signed by thousands of workers. At workers' meetings, the Bolsheviks persuaded the masses not to listen to the Gaponists, warning the workers that they would be shot at. Petition text:
Petersburg, January 8, 1905
Petition to the Sovereign of the workers of the city of St. Petersburg.
Sovereign! We, the workers of the city of St. Petersburg, our wives, children and helpless old men-parents, have come to You, Emperor, to seek truth and protection. We have become impoverished, we are oppressed, burdened with unbearable labor, they abuse us, they do not recognize us as people, they treat us like slaves who must endure their bitter fate and remain silent. We tolerated it, but we are being pushed further and further into the maelstrom of poverty, lawlessness and ignorance, we are suffocated by despotism and arbitrariness, we are suffocating. No more strength, Sovereign. Patience has reached its limit. For us, that terrible moment has come when death is better than the continuation of unbearable torment. And so, we quit our job and told our owners that we would not start working until they fulfilled our requirements.
We asked for little, we only wished for that, without which not life, but hard labor, eternal torment. Our first request was for our owners to discuss our needs with us, but they refused us, just as they refused the right to speak about our needs, finding that the law does not recognize such a right for us. Our requests also turned out to be illegal: to reduce the number of working hours per day, to set a price for our work with us and with our consent, to consider our misunderstandings with the lower administration of factories, to increase the wages of unskilled workers and women for their work to one ruble a day, to cancel overtime work, treat us carefully and without insults, arrange workshops so that you can work in them, and not find death there from terrible drafts, rain and snow. Everything turned out to be illegal in the opinion of our masters, every our request is a crime, and our desire to improve our situation is insolence, offensive to our masters.
Sovereign! There are more than three hundred thousand of us here, and all these are people only in appearance, in reality, they do not recognize a single human right for us, not even to speak, think, gather, discuss our needs, take measures to improve our situation. Any one of us who dares to raise his head in defense of the interests of the working class is thrown into prison, sent into exile: punished as for a crime, for a kind heart, for a sympathetic soul. To pity a downtrodden, powerless, exhausted person means committing a grave crime.
Sovereign! Is this in accordance with the Divine laws, by the grace of which You reign and how can you live under such conditions, laws? Isn't it better for all of us, working people of all Russia, to die? Let the capitalists and officials live and enjoy! This is what stands before us, Emperor! And this is what gathered us to the walls of Your palace. Here we are looking for the last salvation. Do not refuse to help Your people, bring them out of the grave of lawlessness, poverty and ignorance, give them the opportunity to decide their own destiny, throw off the oppression of officials from them. Break down the wall between You and Your people, let them rule the country with You. After all, You have been placed for the happiness of the people, and the officials snatch this happiness from our hands, it does not reach us, we receive only grief and humiliation. Look, without anger, attentively at our requests. They are directed not towards evil, but towards good, both for us and for you, Sire! It is not insolence that speaks in us, but the consciousness of the need to get out of the unbearable situation for all.
Russia is too big, its needs are too varied and numerous to be ruled by officials alone. It is necessary that the people themselves help you, because only they know their true needs. Do not repulse his help, accept it: they were ordered immediately, immediately, to summon representatives of the Russian land from all classes, from all estates. Let there be a capitalist, a worker, an official, a priest, a doctor, and a teacher. Let everyone, whoever they are, elect their representatives. Let everyone be equal and free in the right to be elected, and for this it is ordered that elections to the Constituent Assembly take place on the condition of universal, secret and equal vote. This is our most important request, everything is based on it and on it, this is the main and only plaster for our sick wounds, without which these wounds will forever ooze and quickly move us to death. But one measure still cannot heal all our wounds. We also need others, and we, like a father, tell you about them directly and openly. Necessary:
I. Measures against ignorance and lawlessness of the Russian people:
1) Freedom and inviolability of the person: freedom of speech and press, freedom of assembly, freedom of conscience in the matter of religion.
2) General compulsory public education at the state expense.
3) Responsibility of ministers and guarantee of the legality of management.
4) Equality before the law of all without exception.
5) Immediate return of all victims of beliefs.
II. Measures against the poverty of the people:
1) Abolition of indirect taxes and their replacement with direct progressive income tax.
2) Cancellation of redemption payments.
III. Measures against the oppression of labor by capital:
1) Labor protection by law.
2) Freedom of consumer-productive and trade unions.
3) Eight-hour working day and rationing of overtime work.
4) Freedom of struggle between labor and capital.
5) Participation of representatives of the working classes in the development of the bill on state insurance.
6) Normal wages.
Here, sir, are our main needs, with which we have come to you. Command and swear to fulfill them, and you will make Russia happy and glorious, and your name will be imprinted in the hearts of our and our descendants for eternity. But if you do not command, you will not answer our prayer, we will die here on this square, in front of your palace. We have nowhere else to go and there is no need. We have only two paths: either to freedom and happiness, or to the grave. Indicate, sir, any of them and we will follow it unquestioningly, even though it would be the path to death. Let our life be a sacrifice for the suffering Russia. We do not feel sorry for this sacrifice, we willingly make it.
The tsarist government was preparing for the massacre of the workers. Petersburg was declared martial law. Troops from Pskov, Revel, Narva, Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo were called to reinforce the Petersburg garrison. By January 9, over 40 thousand soldiers and police were concentrated in St. Petersburg. The tsar entrusted the leadership of the reprisal to his uncle Vladimir Romanov. On January 8, at a meeting with the Minister of Internal Affairs, the plan for the bloody massacre was approved. On the evening of January 8, a deputation of intellectuals, which included M. Gorky, came to the chairman of the committee of ministers S. Yu. Witte with a request to prevent bloodshed. Witte sent the deputation to the Minister of Internal Affairs Svyatopolk-Mirsky, but the latter did not even accept it.
On Sunday, January 9, early in the morning, workers from various districts of St. Petersburg moved to the Winter Palace, along with women, children, old people; they carried banners, icons, royal portraits, and sang prayers. St. 140 thousand people At 12 o'clock in the afternoon, the workers of the Narva region, which included the Putilov factory, approached the Narva gate. The cavalry units attacked the procession, the infantry fired 5 volleys. Dozens of workers were killed and injured. Gapon, who was walking with this column, disappeared. At about one o'clock in the afternoon, at the Troitsky bridge, columns of workers were shot, marching from the Vyborg and St. Petersburg sides. Troops shot a procession of workers on Vasilievsky Island. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon, units of the Preobrazhensky regiment stationed at the Winter Palace fired three volleys one after the other at the procession participants who were standing in the Alexander Garden, at the Palace Bridge and at the General Staff building. The Alexander Park was strewn with hundreds of killed and wounded. The cavalry and mounted gendarmes slashed the workers with sabers, trampled them with horses, finished off the wounded, sparing neither women, nor children, nor the elderly. Volleys rang out on Nevsky Prospect, on Morskaya and Gorokhovaya streets, near the Kazan Cathedral. As a result, on January 9, more than a thousand people were killed and more than 2 thousand wounded.
The news of the bloody crime of tsarism shook the whole country. The workers of St. Petersburg, Moscow, Baku, Tiflis, Riga and other industrial centers of the country responded to the events in St. Petersburg with a general political strike, in which 440 thousand workers took part. More workers went on strike in January 1905 than in the entire previous decade. The events of January 9 awakened millions of working people to the struggle against tsarism.
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