Sunday, March 06, 2011

Bliss It Was...

In England, where the Tsar was seen as the tyrant wielding the knout, most Liberals and Laborites were exuberant. In the House of Commons, Andrew Bonar Law, Leader of the House, quoted Wordsworth: "Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven." From Paris, the French Socialist Minister of Munitions, Albert Thomas, telegraphed Kerensky his "congratualations and fraternal greetings."

In the United States, the news was greeted even more extravagantly. On March 22, only one week after the abdication, the United States became the first foreign government to recognize the Provisional Government. For America, on the verge of entering the war because of the German policy of unrestricted U-boat sinkings, the fall of tsarism removed the taint of fighting beside an autocratic Russia. On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war and make the world "safe for democracy." In the same speech, he spoke glowingly of "the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia...The autocracy...has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice and for peace. Here is a fit partner for a League of Honor."
The reaction to the Tsar's abdication, March, 1917.

Robert J. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, chapter 21

Yes, I'm working on another post on parallels to the Arab uprisings.

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