Chargé Eddy to the Secretary of State.
St. Petersburg, November 6, 1905.
Sir: With reference to the recent disorders in St. Petersburg and throughout the Empire, and the granting of a constitution to the Russian people by the Emperor, I have now the honor to report to you as follows:
On the 25th of October the general railway strike throughout Russia came to a head. This strike originated through the desire, not to cause rioting and ultimate revolution, but through a desire to show to the Russian authorities and Government, in a peaceful manner, that the labor unions had finally been brought to a high state of organization. There was also in the minds of the leaders of this movement the desire to test for themselves their own strength. By Wednesday night, the 25th, none of the railway lines running into St. Petersburg was working, with the exception of the Finland Railway. Even the railroad connecting St. Petersburg with Tsarskoé Sélo had ceased moving trains. This fact is the more remarkable as the Tsarskoé Sélo Railroad is the personal property of the Crown.
On Thursday, the 26th, the city of St. Petersburg remained comparatively quiet; the movement had not, up to then, developed the political character which it afterwards assumed. In the early morning there was a slight disturbance in the large markets of the city, certain of the shops being looted by gangs of “hooligans.” The price of meat of all kinds had risen about 100 per cent, owing to the fact that St. Petersburg drawls almost its entire supply of fresh meat from Moscow and the south, which points had all been cut off by the strike.
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On the next day, the 27th, the situation remained unchanged. The strike had spread to every railway line throughout the Empire, including the Finland Railway, and the capital was cut off from all postal communication with the outside world. The attempt was made by [Page 780] the government to arrange an inadequate mail service by means of steamships plying between St. Petersburg and other ports outside the Empire. This system has been made use of up to the present time, but the post-office has refused to guarantee the proper delivery of the mail sent in this way. It has therefore been impossible to send any pouch to Washington.
On the 28th the aspect of things began to assume a political character; the strike had succeeded even beyond the expectation of its organizers. Other trade unions joined with the railways, and this universal strike was carried to such an extent that even doctors, lawyers, and members of the learned professions refused to take up their ordinary occupations
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All telegraphic and telephonic communication with Moscow was cut off; the last reports which we had had from the latter city were very disquieting, though they afterwards proved to have been somewhat exaggerated. After having seen and consulted with several of the most important Americans in St. Petersburg, who seemed greatly alarmed as to the course things were taking, I decided that it could do no harm to ask for instructions. * * * I have only to-day learned that the consul-general sent you a telegram at about the same time, asking for authority to charter a steamer in case it became necessary.
When evening came on the city was practically in darkness, as the employees of all the lighting plants had joined in the general strike. Searchlights were being used by the authorities in different parts of the city to prevent any sudden and unexpected attack on the part of the rioters. The command of the military forces in the capital had been turned over to the governor-general by the Grand Duke Vladimir. * * *
On the next day, October 30, there was no change in the situation; there were many mass meetings, notably at the university, where even professors and instructors of high standing urged on the popular movement for free government. It had begun to be rumored among the people, however, that the government had at last taken up the matter very seriously and that sweeping reforms would probably be made within two or three days at the outside.
On the 30th of October I learned * * * that the announcement of the constitution would be promulgated during the course of the following night. I sent you, therefore, a telegram announcing this fact. * * *
On the 31st the popular demonstrations were of a very vast character. A conservative estimate would place the numbers of the crowds on the Nevsky Prospect alone at 200,000. There was not, however, as might have been supposed, unmixed satisfaction. * * * Frequent collisions took place between bodies of the extreme revolutionaries and those of the moderate party. In many places people were badly hurt, revolvers and other weapons having been used. Toward evening the excitement quieted and the only serious trouble which occurred was at the Polytechnic Institute, where a meeting was being held, and where the troops were finally obliged to fire upon the crowd, killing and wounding some fifty or sixty of them. On this same day I telegraphed you that a new cabinet had been formed by Count Witte. Since cabling you the names of the new ministers, these [Page 781] have been again altered. Prince Hilkoff is to retain his old position of minister of ways and communications, at the direct request of the Emperor, in very just recognition of the immense services rendered by Prince Hilkoff during the Japanese war. I have not cabled you the names of the others who have been mentioned in connection with the new cabinet, as undoubtedly many different decisions have been arrived at and then again changed for others.
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In Moscow and in some of the other cities of the Empire the announcement of the Emperor’s proclamation was received with joy, and the great majority of the people seem to have been content. In Warsaw in the midst of the public rejoicings over the constitution a collision occurred between the troops and the people, which resulted in some loss of life. Great popular indignation was felt at the occurrence, which was certainly unfortunate. But on the day following the people continued their assemblies throughout the city without being molested. It is gratifying to note that the Emperor’s proclamation was received by the Poles with such an amount of satisfaction, and it is interesting to compare the discontent in St. Petersburg with the delight evinced by the people of Poland. In Odessa the disturbances seem to have taken the form of anti-Jewish riots. * * * The reports which are coming in to-day (November 6) are doubtless exaggerated, but they state that between four and five thousand wounded men and women are in the hospitals. Certainly the final list of the killed will be very large.
On the 2d of November the announcement was made by the head committee of the strikers that the strike would be brought to an end on November 3 at noon. The situation was undoubtedly improving in every way, though the streets of St. Petersburg gave evidence that the revolutionists were still active. There were small disturbances in the city, but no loss of life was reported. The electric-lighting establishments started work during the afternoon and the streets during the evening were in their usual condition, except for the military patrols which moved here and there.
From that time on up to the present everything has been quiet and orderly in the city. People have gradually gone back to their work; the railroads have begun running their trains with regularity, and, with the exception of the anti-Jewish rioting which continues at Odessa, the population of the entire Empire seems to have taken up its work again with a trust in the promises of the Emperor and a desire to see the normal conditions of life return.
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I have, etc.,