The First Period of Oppression (1899–1905)

  • D. G. Kirby
Part of the Studies in Russian and East European History book series (SREEHS)


Russian awareness of the existence of a politically sophisticated, autonomous nation on the doorstep of the capital, so graphically portrayed by a Finnish official in 1889, was to have ominous consequences for Finland (40). Alexander III’s orders to the Governor-General in 1891, with his use of terms such as ‘frontier region’ and ‘general state laws’, were a clear indication of the new course of Russian policy towards a strategically vulnerable area (41). Governor-General Heiden’s proposals for the administration of the provinces foreshadowed the measures outlined by Governor-General Bobrikov less than ten years later, and revealed to the Finnish people in the February manifesto of 1899 (42, 45, 47). The dies irae of pitiless assimilation feared by Snellman in 1880 seemed at hand. The Senate split over whether or not to promulgate the February manifesto, with the vice-chairman’s casting vote determining the issue. In 1900, most of the Senators resigned rather than sign the order to promulgate the Language Edict, but those who stayed were joined by others who felt it their duty to remain at the helm to save what could be saved (49). Yrjö-Koskinen defended the actions of those who remained and urged the Finnish nationalists to rally in defence of the language and in support of the government (50).


Military Service Passive Resistance Frontier Region Secret Ballot Scandinavian Peninsula 
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© D. G. Kirby 1975

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  • D. G. Kirby

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