Finland 1863-1898 Finland 1914-1917

Finland, 1898-1914

Administration . From 1898 to 1914, Finland saw 6 governors, the most important being Nicolai Ivanovich Bobrikov 1898-1904, Nicolay Nicolayevich Gerard 1905-1908 and Frans Albert Seyn 1909-1917. Parliamentary elections were held in 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1913. The capital was Helsinki (Helsingfors).
In 1912, Vyborg / Viipuri province was detached from Finland, annexed into Russia.

Political History . Russian nationalists therefore strove to transform the Russian Empire's autonomous regions on the fringe into provinces Russian in character (Russification). In order to achieve this, in 1898 Nicolai Bobrikov was appointed governor of Finland. In 1899 a manifesto was published claiming the right of the Czarist government to rule without the consent of Finland's diet and senate. Another manifesto made Russian the main language in the country's administration. The Finnish population was divided in determined opponents, the Constitutionalists, and those who favoured to comply with the policy in order to further weaken the Swedish grip on society, the Compliants. The radical measures of the Russian administration, however made the compliants' position intenable. When the Russians introduced a new conscription law in 1901, the Finns were determined to resist (campaign of non-cooperation, non-communication).
The Russians soon found out, that Finnish soldiers were, for their cause, unreliable, and exempted Finns in return for the payment of extra levies (1904). The Finnish constitution was suspended in 1903. Meanwhile, there were Finnish organizations actively resisting Russian rule. Governor N. Bobrikov was assassinated by one of their members in 1904. The Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905 gave the Finns a break. Russian pressure to intensify Russification momentarily ceased.
Reforms the Czar complied with included a reform of the diet, which now was to meet permanently. A unicameral parliament was introduced, which foresaw universal suffrage, Finland thus being the first country in Europe giving women full voting rights. Freedom of the press introduced.
However, in 1908 the policy of Russification was taken up again, in 1910 Finland's autonomy was revoked by Russia's Duma. The Finns firmly opposed Russia's rule, and when World War I broke out, where indifferent to Russia's fortune.
The Social Democratic Party of Finland was founded in 1899, the Centre Party in 1906, the Swedish People's Party (in Finland) in 1906.

The Economy . The Helsinki Stock Exchange opened in 1912.
In 1898, Finland had 2,516 km of railroad tracks, in 1914 3,683 km (IHS p.657).
In 1898, Finland produced 56,000 hectolitres of wheat, in 1914 69,000; potato production was 5.9 million hectolitres in 1898, 6.6 million in 1914 (IHS p.266).

Social History . The elevation of Finnish to the status of official language resulted in ethnic Finns taking the vast majority of positions in administration, education and jurisdiction, until 1892 monopolized by the country's Swedish minority.
In 1896 the population of Finland was 2.52 million, in 1914 3.23 million (Lahmeyer). In 1905 Finland experienced a general strike.

Cultural History . The National Football Association of Finland was established in 1907. A national football championship had been introduced in 1906. Finnish athletes, under the flag of the Grand Duchy of Finland, participated in the Summer Olympics of London 1908 and Stockholm 1912. Finns took 1 gold in London, 9 in Stockholm. The Finnish National Olympic Committee was established in 1907.
The Finnish National Museum in Helsinki was constructed in 1905-1910 and opened in 1916.

Article Grand Duchy of Finland, Elections in Finland, Football Association of Finland, Football in Finland, Social Democratic Party of Finland, Centre Party, Finland, Swedish People's Party, Finnish Party, Finland's Language Strife, Nicolai Ivanovich Bobrikov, Governor-General of Finland, Russification of Finland, Diet of Finland, Finland at the 1908 Summer Olympics, Finland at the 1912 Summer Olympics, Finnish General Strike of 1905, National Museum of Finland, Helsinki Stock Exchange, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Finland
Russian Rule 1809-1917, from A Virtual History of Finland, by Pasi Kuoppamäki
DOCUMENTS Finnish Statesmen, from World tatesmen (Ben Cahoon)
Historical Population Statistics : Finland, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
The Gracious Manifesto of the Imperial Majesty, Czar Nicholas II., 1899, from A selection of events and documents on the history of Finland posted by Pauli Kruhse
The Act passed by the State Council and the State Duma concerning the procedure to be complied with issuing laws and decrees of all-Empire significance for Finland, 1910, posted by A selection of events and documents on the history of Finland
Historical Maps of Finland, from Suomen Maantieteellinen Seura, 1899 (Finnish Geographical Society), Philips' Mercantile Marine Atlas, 1904, posted by FINFO
Finnish banknotes, from Wad Nensberg's Collection of Russian Banknotes, also from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
Article Finnland from Meyers Konversationslexikon, 1888-1890, in German
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Raymond Pearson, The Longman Companion to European Nationalism 1789-1920, London etc.: Longman 1994, especially pp.86, 130-131 [G]
Article : Russia - Finland, in : Statesman's Year Book 1901 pp.1019-1022, 1905 pp.1105-1109, 1910 pp.1184-1188, 1192 [G]
Article : Finland, in : International Year Book 1899 pp.316-317, 1900 pp.339-340 [G]
Article : Finland, in : New International Year Book 1907 pp.264-266, 1908 p.244, 1909 pp.242-243, 1913 p.247 [G]
Article : Russia : Finland, in : Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register of Important Events 1902 pp.614-616 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 3rd 2002, last revised on July 16th 2007

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