File No. 861.00/980
The Ambassador in Russia ( Francis) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 22, 3.15 p.m.]
2253. Noon was hour fixed for Assembly meeting but delayed until 4 p.m. Red Guards mainly, but accompanied by few soldiers, attempted to disband parades and demonstrations favoring Assembly, first ordering parades to disband but firing on people at times and being fired on in return, casualties unknown, but not thought great, one Assembly member killed near Embassy.
Members attending something over 400, of which two thirds Social Revolutionary, one third Bolsheviks and extreme left of Social Revolutionary. Think no Cadets attended. Social Revolutionists named oldest member temporary chairman but was prevented from officiating by president, Petrograd Soviet, promptly assuming chair and reading declaration of Commissaries instructing convention concerning proceedings. Begins with assertion that all power is with Workmen-Soldiers-Peasants’ Deputies. Reading finished, a member stated: “All power in Constituent Assembly.” Soviet chairman made no response other than asking what next, whereupon Maximalists began singing Internationale hymn. Roll was called next including Milyukov, Rodzyanko, Kerensky, Shingarev, Tseretelli, Lenin, Skobelev, only last three of those named being present. Chernov nominated President of [by] Social Revolutionists; Spiridonova, a woman, by Maximalists. Chernov elected, receiving 244 to 153, six abstaining. His [this] proceeding just finished.
Beginning rather encouraging. Government using no force in convention other than preventing members from entering hall by guard stationed at door; Chernov and Shreider, former mayor, [Page 352]Petrograd, demanding reason of sailor guard, received reply that was so ordered. Rumors current yesterday that two regiments would protect Assembly, but heard of no armed bodies of troops on streets; think soldiers generally remained in barracks; some soldiers in parades favoring Assembly.