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What Was the October Revolution?

By Steve R.
Updated May 23, 2024
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The Great October Socialist Revolution, known more commonly as the October Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution, occurred in 1917 in Russia, and the revolt resulted in a leftist government coming to power. The uprising started in the then-capital city of St. Petrograd, now St. Petersburg, and spread nationwide. Headed by Vladimir Lenin of the Bolshevik party, the October Revolution was the first communist rebellion of the 20th century and was founded on the beliefs of Karl Marx. The events of the October Revolution helped lay the groundwork for Stalinism and the Cold War.

In 1917, Russia endured two revolutions. In February, the tsarist government under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II was defeated and replaced with a liberal provisional government during the February Revolution. This government consisted of bankers, lawyers, and industrialists who were disheartened with Nicholas II for forcing millions of peasants to fight in World War I.

The new regime was not very strong, however, and was unable to keep Russia out of the war. The provisional government was opposed immediately by peasants and workers who wanted to make their own choices and wanted land distributed fairly. Vladimir Lenin joined the Bolshevik party, which vied with the provisional government for power.

In July of 1917, the Bolsheviks faced off against the provisional government and was defeated. Lenin went into exile and many high-ranking Bolshevik officials were jailed. Soon, however, provisional government officials, who could relate to the lower class, began supporting the Bolsheviks.

The Bolshevik party represented a socialist party that was concerned with giving control to workers. The party's slogans included "All Power to the Soviets," "Peace, Land, and Bread," and "Immediate Convocation of the Constitution Assembly." Vladimir Lenin began plotting another uprising after the unsuccessful July attempt. In September, the Bolsheviks won key elections in vital Russian industrial areas, helping the party's cause.

With little or no resistance, the Bolshevik party gained control of the government buildings, bridges, communication centers, and rail stations in Petrograd near the end of October. Bolshevik forces also gained control of the state bank and captured the Winter Palace with little bloodshed, and Lenin declared the fall of the provisional government.

Members of the provisional government were thrown in jail or went into hiding. During the October Revolution, a new regime was put in place. The new regime under the Bolshevik rule was led by Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Joseph Stalin.

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