File No. 861.00/386

The Consul at Petrograd ( Winship) to the Secretary of State

No. 297

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my despatch No. 274, dated March 20, 1917, “The revolutionary movement in Petrograd,”1 and to report further that one of the most favorable signs of the week was the resolution adopted by the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies strongly denouncing the Maximalist Lenin and his followers, mentioning them by name as “Leninites.” Lenin’s propaganda was declared dangerous and counter-revolutionary. This is sure to have a most salutary effect, as it will force Lenin and his followers to openly adopt an attitude of opposition to the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies thus depriving them of authority among the great mass of the workmen and soldiers. A large demonstration of the wounded and sick soldiers of the Petrograd hospitals took place Sunday the 29th, and is important as it throws a clear light on the demands and political ideas of a large part of the soldiery, which has not, like the garrison of Kronstadt, caught up, without understanding them, the mottoes and ideas of the socialist agitators. The wounded met in two of the halls of the Duma and in both places socialist members of the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies, who were not clear enough and definite enough in their opposition to Lenin, were forced to discontinue their speeches. The President of the Duma, M. V. Rodzyanko, was greeted with furious applause. The resolution of the meeting was in effect as follows:

  • 1. Full confidence is expressed in the Temporary Government, which is the sole and supreme authority in the land, and in the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies, which should exercise a control over the Temporary Government.
  • 2. The agitation now being waged by Lenin and his followers is dangerous to the revolution, his action in traveling through Germany was an act most injurious to the Russian nation, and the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies should explain the injurious effect of Lenin’s agitation to the workmen and soldiers and strive to paralyze his propaganda by every means in its power.
  • 3. The reservists of the elder ages should be released from the army and their places filled by the members of the middle classes who are avoiding service by holding positions in the rear of the army.
  • 4. All lands, whether belonging to the Government, the ex-Emperor, monasteries, or private owners, should belong to the Nation and should be shared among all those who can and care to work on them with their own hands.
  • 5. All wounded who have lost either upper or lower extremities should be furnished with artificial limbs which should be renewed by the Government during the life of the wearer.
  • Paragraphs 6, 7, 8, and 9 include demands concerning the children of crippled soldiers.
  • 10. Greetings are being sent to our allies and a request that they should not cease to believe that Russian army and people will continue the war, in agreement with their allies, to a victorious end.

The attitude of the newspaper, the People’s Task, the organ of the Social Revolutionists (moderates), which is published with the collaboration of A. F. Kerensky, Minister of Justice, is becoming more and more uncompromisingly hostile to Milyukov, on the question of the aims of the war; it is claimed that Milyukov is an imperialist-annexationist, and it is demanded that he make public the treaties of alliance with France and England, that the Temporary Government take energetic steps to bring France and England to a declaration regarding the war similar to the one issued by the temporary Russian Government.

Discontent in Finland is reported in the papers. The rate of exchange, established by the Bank of Finland for the Russian ruble, has dropped from 214 to 206 in the last week. It held steady at 214 all winter, under the old régime. The bill introduced into the Finnish “Seim” (lower House) to give certain commercial and industrial rights to Russian subjects in Finland is not progressing rapidly. This bill is meant to take the place of the bill giving similar rights to Russian subjects, put in force by the old regimé in violation of the legislative rights of Finland. The bill for equal rights was the cause of a good many Finnish judges and court officials, who refused to enforce it, being sent to Siberia, and was abolished by the Temporary Government along with all other laws and regulations forced on Finland in violation of its rights and privileges. Bills have been introduced providing for the reestablishment of an independent Finnish post office and currency. In many of the border towns where Russian currency has always been accepted, it is now being refused. There is also great discontent in Finland with the action of some of the sailors of the Russian Baltic Fleet who interfered forcibly in a labor dispute in Finland, forcing the manufacturers to grant an eight-hour day to their workmen. In the first business meeting of the Seim, the head of the Finnish government, Senator Tokoi, made a speech in which he declared that on the deposition of Nicholas II, the Grand Duke of Finland, all juridical connection between Finland and Russia ceased and the powers held by the Emperor passed to the Finnish Senate and Seim. This view is opposed by the Russians, who claim that the powers held by the Emperor including his rights [Page 36] as Grand Duke of Finland passed to the Temporary Government, which holds them temporarily until the meeting of the Constitutional Convention.

Considerable disquiet has been caused during the past week by the events connected with the journey of P. N. Perevertsev to Kronstadt, at the head of a judicial commission under instructions from A. F. Kerensky, Minister of Justice, to investigate the officers imprisoned by the workmen and sailors, and not yet released. The commission released nine officers. A mob of workmen, soldiers and sailors at once gathered, arrested the commission and condemned them to death in an open-air meeting. The members of the Kronstadt Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies who had been working in conjunction with the commission of the Temporary Government, succeeded in protecting the lives of Mr. Perevertsev and the commission, under the condition that none of them ever return to Kronstadt. After the departure of the commission the mob rearrested the released officers, whom they wanted to execute, but were stopped after considerable difficulty by the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies.

The question as to the support of the new “Loan of Liberty,” which was decided favorably by the Executive Committee of the Petrograd Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies, came up before the plenum of the Conference of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies on the 29th. It was decided to postpone this question for three days as the Temporary Government had announced to a representative of the Council that within three days the Temporary Government would issue a statement of the practical results flowing from the official surrender of annexationist and contributionist aims contained in the declaration of the Temporary Government in regard to the war. The Council decided to settle the question of the support of the loan in accordance with the nature of the Temporary Government’s new declaration concerning the war and imperialism. This question of the loan is most important, as the loan’s success among the monied classes will be fatally compromised if the workmen and soldiers aggressively oppose it. At this same meeting the Council decided to permit battalions of the Petrograd garrison to be sent to the front when their training is finished, subject to the consent of the Executive Committee of the Council.

This Consulate apprehends that it may be thought in America that the success of the revolution in Russia means that all parties are united. In my reports I have endeavored to make it clear that the movement succeeded because of the general dissatisfaction on all sides with the old Government and its system. But the old régime was thrown off before any defiinte plan for Russia’s future was drawn up; [Page 37] therefore the problems ignored by the Imperial Government now confront the new.

The variance of opinion among the different parties will make the discussion of these large problems very complicated and bitter. It must not be taken for granted that the following questions are settled: distribution, government, imperial and private land, relations to Finland and other contiguous territory, national autonomy within Russia, the centralized (bureaucratic) system of administration, the internal organization of church and its relation to the government, and the racial relations between the Hebrew population and the Russian peasant and artisan classes.

If these matters are not handled expeditiously and tactfully by the Temporary Government, there is danger that the people will take the matter into their own hands locally and sporadically.

I have [etc.]

North Winship
  1. Ante, p. 7.