Alekseev, Petr Alekseevich

Alekseev, Petr Alekseevich

 

Born Jan. 14 (26), 1849, in the village of Novinskaia, Smolensk Province; died Aug. 16 (28), 1891. The first Russian worker-revolutionary.

From childhood, Alekseev worked at weaving factories in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the early 1870’s, he became involved with revolutionary narodniki. He conducted propaganda and disseminated literature among workers. From the end of 1874, he was an active member in Moscow of the organization which took shape in 1875 under the name of the All-Russian Social-Revolutionary Organization. On Apr. 4 (16), 1875, he was arrested and then brought to trial in the “process of the fifty” (1877). On March 9 (21), 1877, Alekseev delivered a fiery speech in court. He spoke of the difficult situation of the workers, who had no rights, and of the predatory nature of the reforms of 1861. He expressed confidence that the path of the revolutionary intelligentsia would be inseparable from that of the people, that “... the brawny arm of millions of working people will rise up and the yoke of despotism, protected by soldiers’ bayonets, will shatter into dust.” V. I. Lenin called Alekseev’s last words “the great prophecy of a Russian worker-revolutionary” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 4, p. 377).

Alekseev’s speech, which was printed in 1877 in an underground printing plant in St. Petersburg, made an enormous impression. That same year, his speech was printed by several presses of Russian revolutionary émigrés. Alekseev was sentenced to ten years at hard labor, which he spent at the Novobelgorod penal-servitude prison, at Kara from 1882 and in a settlement in the Yakutsk region from 1884. Alekseev maintained his loyalty to revolutionary ideas in exile. He met a tragic death in 1891 at the hands of a bandit. Under Soviet power a 5-meter obelisk was erected in Yakutsk in his honor. A museum has been opened in the yurt where he lived, and a monument has been erected in Alekseev’s native area.

REFERENCES

Rozhin, P. M. Korifei rabochego dvizheniia. Moscow, 1961.
Panukhina, N. B. “K istorii rechi P. Alekseeva.” Vestnik Mos-kovskogo universiteta, Istoriia, 1965, no. 5.

N. M. PIRUMOVA