The sign these Russians are carrying says "Long live the Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Deputies!"

Photograph courtesy Library of Congress

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  • On November 7, 1917, members of the Bolshevik political party seized power in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), Russia. This conflict ultimately led to a Bolshevik victory in the Russian civil war that followed, and the establishment of the Soviet Union in 1922.
    The October Revolution was actually the second Russian revolution of 1917. In March, revolutionaries led by the Petrograd soviet, or council, violently overthrew Czar Nicholas II, the leader whose family had ruled Russia for 370 years. The czarist government was replaced by a republic, largely led by Russian nobles. The majority (bolshe in Russian) of Russians were peasants and industrial workers. They did not support the new government. The communist policies of the Bolshevik Party, led by charismatic lawyer Vladimir Lenin, appealed to these working class Russians.
    Why does the October Revolution have a November date? In 1917, Russia used the Julian calendar, which placed the date for the October Revolution on October 25. (For the same reason, the March uprising that led to the abdication of the czar is known as the “February Revolution.”) Today, Russia uses the Gregorian calendar, which dates the revolution to November 7.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    abdicate Verb

    to step down from a position of authority and power.

    charismatic Adjective

    capable of inspiring or influencing large numbers of people.

    civil war Noun

    conflict between groups in the same country or nation.

    communist Noun

    person or group of people who support communism, a type of economy where all property, including land, factories and companies, is held by the government.

    conflict Noun

    a disagreement or fight, usually over ideas or procedures.

    council Noun

    group of people selected to act in an advisory, administrative, or legislative capacity.

    czar Noun

    emperor or king of Russia.

    establish Verb

    to form or officially organize.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    noble Noun

    person born into a position with a high rank or class.

    peasant Noun

    person of low social rank and little social mobility in medieval society, usually a small farmer, farmworker, or owner of a houshold industry.

    political party Noun

    organization led by a philosophy (platform) to guide or influence the government.

    republic Noun

    system of government where power rests in citizens who vote and representatives who stand for those citizens. The United States is a republic.

    revolution Noun

    overthrow or total change of government.

    seize Verb

    to take suddenly.

    Soviet Union Noun

    (1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.

    ultimate Adjective

    final or maximum.

    working class Noun

    social class of workers, usually performing manual labor.