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Abdication of Czar and Rise of a Republic in
the Stronghold of Autocracy
USSIA experienced during the four
days of March 8-11, 1917, the IV most dramatic and effective po
litical upheaval in recorded his tory. The Romanoff dynasty, which had ruled the nation for more than 300 years, was completely overthrown, as in the twinkling of an eye. The most absolute autocracy in the civilized world crumbled and fell almost without a struggle, and was replaced by a modern democratic Government without serious loss of life. The new régime set up by the people is pledged to extremely advanced ideas of liberalism and democracy, including universal suffrage.
The news of the revolution came upon the world outside of Russia with startling suddenness on Friday, March 16. There were intimations two days earlier that some political crisis was at hand, but they were so meagre and fragmentary that they gave no clue to the stupendous nature of the change in progress. It was on March 16 that the Provisional Gov. ernment issued its Appeal to the People, and this act may be accepted as the beginning of the established career of the new régime.
For weeks all the news from Russia had indicated a state of unrest, dissatisfaction and imminent crisis. There were evidences of gross mismanagement in the distribution of supplies, the transport system was faulty, the munitions supply irregular, the hospital service subject to constant criticism. Finally food in the cities became so short that prices rapidly mounted to prohibitive figures, and the poorer classes were on the verge of starFation. Previous to these conditions there was a general feeling, which gained strength every day, that a certain clique or camarilla of the nobility and ruling classes was traitorous and proGerman, intriguing to have Russia de sert the Allies and effect a separate peace. In November, 1916, Professor
Paul N. Milukoff, the present Minister of Foreign Affairs, and one of the leaders of the revolution, delivered a speech in the Duma in which he denounced the Prime Minister, Stürmer, as a pro-German and a traitor to Russia, and intimating that the Premier had betrayed his country for German gold. This speech, though its publication was forbidden in Russia, leaked out and produced a profound sensation. The Trepoff-Protopopoff Ministry, which succeeded, was at first supposed to be liberal, but it soon became even more reactionary than its predecessor, and hints were freely circulated that it was corrupted by Germany and intended to betray the country. In fact, charges were openly made in the Duma early in March that the failure of the army administration was intended to impede the progress of the war, and that the shortage of food in the great cities was a deliberate plot of the Government to inflame the masses so that they would demand a separate peace.
This was the critical situation of affairs on March 8, when a group of workingmen in Petrograd decided on a general strike and began manifestations of discontent against the shortage of food.
For weeks there had been protests and threats of a general strike, but it was the opinion of the liberal leaders in the Duma that, despite the wretched state of affairs, an open revolution was impossible, as the country realized that a revolution would seriously interrupt the work of the war and would be playing into the hands of those who had this very end in view.
Open letters were printed in the Petrograd newspapers from popular Duma leaders, and proclamations were posted in the streets, urgently begging the population not to create demonstrations or cause disorders which might lead to interruption of the manufacture of muni