The Duma’s final plea for reform (1917)

On March 12th 1917, three days before the abdication of Nicholas II, the State Council of the Duma made one last plea to the tsar for political reform:

March 12th, 1917

Your Imperial Majesty,

“We, the undersigned members of the State Council, realising the danger that threatens our country, turn to you in fulfilment of our conscientious duty before you and Russia.

Owing to the complete collapse of transportation and the consequent inability to bring, in the necessary materials, factories and mills have shut down. This forced unemployment, combined with the acute food crisis, brought on by the said breakdown of transport, has driven the popular masses into despair. This situation has been accentuated by the feeling of detestation and grave suspicion of the authorities which has sunk deeply into the hearts of the people.

All these factors have brought on a popular uprising, which the army has joined. Never having had the confidence of Russia and now thoroughly discredited, the authorities are quite powerless to handle the dangerous situation.

Your Majesty, the further keeping of the present Government in power means the complete breakdown of law and order and will bring with it inevitable defeat in war, the ruin of the dynasty and great miseries for Russia.

We think that the last and only remedy is for Your Imperial Majesty to make a complete change in the internal policy and, in agreement with the repeated requests of the popular representatives, classes and public organisations, call together at once the legislative chambers; dismiss the present Council of Ministers; and ask someone who has the confidence of the people to submit to you, for confirmation, a list of names for a new cabinet capable of governing the country in complete harmony with the representatives of the people.

Every hour is dear. Further delay and hesitancy may bring on uncountable miseries.”

[Signed] Members of the State Council