In April 1906, Tsar Nicholas II officially opened the First Duma, giving the following address to the 524 elected deputies present:
“The care for the welfare of the fatherland, which is entrusted to me by Almighty Providence, has prompted me to summon the elected representatives of the people to assist in our legislative tasks. I welcome you, those best people whom I commanded my beloved subjects to choose from among themselves, with an ardent faith in Russia’s brilliant future.
Difficult and complicated tasks await you. I believe that you are inspired and united by love for your country. I will protect the new institutions which I have granted my people in the firm conviction that you will devote all your strength to selfless service to the fatherland; to the clarification of the needs of the peasantry which is so close to my heart; and to the promotion of popular enlightenment and the national wellbeing, remembering that for spiritual greatness and prosperity of the state we need not freedom alone, but order based on law.
My fervent desire to see my people happy and to pass on to my son a strong, prosperous and enlightened state would then be fulfilled.
May the Lord bless the labours which I shall undertake in union with the State Council and the State Duma, and may this day henceforth be known as the day of Russia’s moral renewal, the day of the renaissance of her best forces.
Set about the work with which I have charged you with reverence, and justify the faith which the Tsar and the people have placed in you.
May God be with us in our labours. May the Lord help me and you.”