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Lena Goldfields Massacre and the Crisis of the Late Tsarist State

By Michael Melancon

Publication Year: 2006

In 1912 a thin line of Russian soldiers, confronted by a large crowd of gold miners on strike for several weeks, reacted with fear and anger. At their officers’ orders, they opened fire, shooting five hundred unarmed protestors. The event reverberated across Russia. The Lena goldfields massacre can be viewed from several distinct viewpoints, each presenting a contrasting story. Author Michael Melancon avoids prematurely picking a “right” way of looking at the massacre. Instead, he explores all aspects of the incident, from the despair of the miners at the poor conditions they faced, to the calculations and priorities of the mining entrepreneurs and state officials, and even the rationale of the soldiers who pulled the triggers. The Lena Goldfields Massacre and the Crisis of the Late Tsarist State will appeal to anyone interested in labor relations, in revolutionary movements, and in transitions associated with modernization. Its comparative framework will be helpful for generalists and Europeanists. It will also provide food for thought for those who seek a carefully researched examination of Russian society during the early twentieth century.

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Title page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-

Tables

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pp. ix-

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-

The resources of the State Archive of the Russian Federation (Moscow), Hoover Institution, New York Public Library, Institute of Social Sciences Library (Moscow), the Russian State Library (Moscow), Moscow State University Library, and Indiana University ...

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Introduction

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pp. 3-8

The Lena goldfields massacre of 4 April 1912 marked a turning point in post-1905 Russian history. Reaction to news of the shooting was fierce and prolonged, quite similar to that of Bloody Sunday, 9 January 1905, which helped spur the 1905 Revolution. Strikes and demonstrations ...

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Chapter 1. The Early History of Lena Gold Mining

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pp. 9-25

The Lena river basin first opened to Russian history when the commander (sotnik) Peter Beketov established a prison-fortress (ostrog) at Iakutsk in 1632. The Lena and its numerous upper branches served as pathways of exploration to the Amur area and what later became ...

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Chapter 2. Modern Lena Gold Mining, Lenzoto, and the Workers, 1861–1912

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pp. 26-63

The history of Lena (Olekminsk) gold mining during the second half of the nineteenth and the early twentieth century constitutes the long-term context of the 1912 Lena strike and massacre. This was an era of rapid transformation in the global and Russian ...

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Chapter 3. The History of Worker Unrest in the Lena Region, 1842–1912

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pp. 64-77

n his report about the April 1912 tragedy, Senator Manukhin wrote that the “Lena gold-mining workers’ strike was not a new phenomenon and not accidental.” The prehistory of the 1912 events supports both aspects of his contention. In its ...

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Chapter 4. The Lena Goldfields Strike and Shooting

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pp. 78-114

n a wintry day in early April, far out in the Lena River basin to the northeast of Lake Baikal, a file of workers some three thousand strong marched determinedly out of the deforested hills along a road toward a company settlement on the Bodaibo River. Most walked ...

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Chapter 5. Politics, the Strike Committee, and Competing Discourses

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pp. 115-152

Contemporary observers strove mightily to crack the puzzle of the Lena goldfields strike. Was it political or economic, spontaneous or planned, and, if the last, by whom and how? Police Captain Treshchenkov belatedly portrayed the strike as of “purely Social-Democratic ...

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Chapter 6. Unexpected Consensus in Russian Society

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pp. 153-183

he early months of 1912 seemed to promise nothing remarkable in the life of the empire. The workers’ strike movement, although somewhat revived from its 1909–10 nadir, was still at low ebb. The economy was expanding in virtually all areas. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 185-195

Occurring in the far Siberian taiga at the very outposts of Russian consciousness, the Lena goldfields massacre quickly seized a central place in news reportage, in public discussion, in the Duma, in the government, and among innumerable people and institutions. Why did the shooting of several hundred humble mining ...

Appendix A

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pp. 197-199

Appendix B

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pp. 201-202

Notes

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pp. 203-222

Bibliography

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pp. 223-232

Index

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pp. 233-238

Image plates

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pp. 239-246


E-ISBN-13: 9781603445511
E-ISBN-10: 160344551X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781585445080
Print-ISBN-10: 1585445088

Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 16 b&w photos. 3 maps. 11 tables.
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series on Eastern Europe

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Subject Headings

  • Miners -- Russia (Federation) -- Lena River Valley.
  • Lenskoe zolotopromyshlennoe tovarishchestvo.
  • Strikes and lockouts -- Gold mining -- Russia (Federation) -- Lena River Valley.
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