Primary Documents - Russian Note of Thanks to the U.S. Government, 23 June 1917
Reproduced below is the note of thanks despatched by Russia's Provisional Government - in place since the forced abdication of Tsar Nicholas II in March 1917 - to the U.S. government.
Dated 23 June 1917 and delivered by the newly arriving Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Boris Bakhmeteff, the note thanked the U.S. for its prompt support in formally recognising the new Russian government.
The note went on to reassure the U.S. - and by extension its Allies - that Russia fully intended to continue to prosecute the war against Germany, and that such a policy was fully supported by the Russian people.
Note to the U.S. Government from the Russian Democratic Government (via the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Boris Bakhmeteff, 23 June 1917
On behalf of the Russian Provisional Government and in behalf of all the people of new Russia, I have been first of all sent here to express their gratitude to the Government of the United States for the prompt recognition of the new political order in Russia.
This noble action of the world's greatest democracy has afforded us strong moral support and has created among our people a general feeling of profound appreciation.
Close and active relationship between the two nations based upon complete and sincere understanding encountered inevitable obstacles during the old regime because of its very nature. The situation is now radically changed with free Russia starting a new era in her national life.
The Provisional Government is actively mobilizing all its resources and is making great efforts to organize the country and the army for the purpose of conducting the war. We hope to establish a very close and active cooperation with the United States, in order to secure the most successful and intensive accomplishment of all work necessary for our common end.
For the purpose of discussing all matters relating to military affairs, munitions and supplies, railways and transportation, finance and agriculture, our mission includes eminent and distinguished specialists.
On the other hand, I hope that the result of our stay and work in America will bring about a clear understanding on the part of your public of what has happened in Russia and also of the present situation and the end for which our people are most earnestly striving.
The achievements of the revolution are to be formally set forth in fundamental laws enacted by a Constitutional Assembly, which is to be convoked as soon as possible. In the meanwhile the Provisional Government is confronted with the task of bringing into life the democratic principles which were promulgated during the revolution.
New Russia received from the old Government a burdensome heritage of economic and technical disorganization which affected all branches of the life of the State, a disorganization which weighs yet heavily on the whole country. The Provisional Government is doing everything in its power to relieve the difficult situation. It has adopted many measures for supplying plants with raw material and fuel, for regulating the transportation of the food supply for the army and for the country, and for relieving the financial difficulties.
The participation in the new Government by new members who are active and prominent leaders in the Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates has secured full support from the democratic masses. The esteem in which such leaders as M. Kerensky and M. Tseretelli and others are held among the working classes and soldiers is contributing to the strength and stability of the new Government.
The Constitutional-Democratic Party, the Labour Party, the Socialist-Populists, and, excepting a small group of extremists, the Social Democrats - all these parties, embracing the vast majority of the people, are represented by strong leaders in the new Government, thereby securing for it authority.
Plans of the Government
Firmly convinced that unity of power is essential, and casting aside class and special interests, all social and political elements have joined in the national program which the new Government proclaimed and which it is striving to fulfil.
This program reads:
The Provisional Government, rejecting, in accord with the whole people of Russia, all thought of separate peace, puts it openly as its deliberate purpose the promptest achievement of universal peace; such peace to presume no dominion over other nations, no seizure of their national property nor any forced usurpation of foreign territory; peace with no annexations or contributions, based upon the free determination by each nation of its destinies.
Being fully convinced that the establishment of democratic principles in its internal and external policy has created a new factor in the striving of allied democracies for durable peace and fraternity of all nations, the Provisional Government will take preparatory steps for an agreement with the Allies founded on its declaration of March 27th.
The Provisional Government is conscious that the defeat of Russia and her allies would be the source of the greatest misery, and would not only postpone but even make impossible the establishment of universal peace on a firm basis.
The Provisional Government is convinced that the revolutionary army of Russia will not allow the German troops to destroy our allies on the western front and then fall upon us with the whole might of their weapons. The chief aim of the Provisional Government will be to fortify the democratic foundations of the army and organize and consolidate the army's fighting power for its defensive as well as offensive purpose.
The last decision of the Russian Council of Workmen's and Soldiers' Delegates, the decision of the All-Russian Peasant Congress, the decision of the Duma, the voice of the country as expressed from day to day by almost the entire Russian press, in resolutions adopted at different conferences and congresses - all these confirm their full support to this national program and leave not the slightest doubt that Russia is decided as to the necessity to fight the German autocracy until the conditions for a general and stable peace in Europe are established.
Such decision is becoming more and more evident each day by practical work and results and shows itself in the pressing and rapid reorganization of the army which is now being fulfilled under the firm and efficient measures adopted by Minister Kerensky.
New Russia, in full accord with the motives which impelled the United States to enter the war, is striving to destroy tyranny, to establish peace on a secure and permanent foundation and to make the world safe for democracy.
Does not one feel occasionally that the very greatness and significance of events are not fully appreciated, due to the facility and spontaneity with which the change has been completed?
Does one realize what it really means to humanity that a nation of 180,000,000, a country boundless in expanse, has been suddenly set free from the worst of oppressions, has been given the joy of a free, self-conscious existence?
Instead of the old forms there are now being firmly established and deeply imbedded in the minds of the nation principles that power is reposed and springs from and only from the people. To effectuate these principles and to enact appropriate fundamental laws is going to be the main function of the Constitutional Assembly which is to be convoked as promptly as possible.
Guided by democratic precepts, the Provisional Government is meanwhile reorganizing the country on the basis of freedom, equality, and self-government, rebuilding its economic and financial structure.
The people are realizing more and more that for the very sake of further freedom law must be maintained and manifestation of anarchy suppressed. In this respect local life has exemplified a wonderful exertion of spontaneous public spirit.
On many occasions, following the removal of the old authorities, a new elected administration has naturally arisen, conscious of national interest and often developing in its spontaneity amazing examples of practical statesmanship.
The latest resolutions, framed by the Council of Workingmen, the Congress of Peasants, and other democratic organizations, render the best proof of the general understanding of the necessity of creating strong power. The coalitionary character of the new Cabinet, which includes eminent Socialist leaders, and represents all the vital elements of the nation, therefore enjoying its full support, is most effectively securing the unity and power of the Central Government, the lack of which was so keenly felt during the first two months after the revolution.
As to foreign policy, Russia's national program has been clearly set forth in the statement of the Provisional Government of March 27th, and more explicitly in the declaration of the new Government of May 18th.
With all emphasis may I state that Russia rejects any idea of separate peace. I am aware that rumours were circulated in this country that a separate peace seemed probable. I am happy to affirm that such rumours are wholly without foundation in fact.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. V, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
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