1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Tschaikovsky, Nicholas Vasilievich

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1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Tschaikovsky, Nicholas Vasilievich
See also Nikolai Tchaikovsky on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

TSCHAIKOVSKY, NICHOLAS VASILIEVICH (1850- ), Russian revolutionary politician, was born in 1850, at Viatka. He spent the first part of his life on his mother's estate, and studied at a public school at Viatka and later on in St. Petersburg. In 1868 he entered the St. Petersburg University and got his degree in chemistry in 1872. He took part in the “Narodniki” (populist) movement, and became one of its leaders, working for the creation of a system of societies for self-education. These societies organized lectures and provided their members with cheap and well-selected books. They had a considerable influence on the moral and political development of a whole generation of the Russian “intelligentsia.”

But under the political régime of Russia in the 'seventies no public body or society could act freely if its activity was not fully approved by the Government. Every kind of repression was used against the promoters of the “narodniki” movement; and Tschaikovsky was twice arrested. Under these conditions the new party soon lost its educational character and became a revolutionary and terrorist association. Tschaikovsky did not approve of this new tendency and joined the social-religious group, which received the name of “God-men” because its members tried to find in themselves a reflection of God.

In 1874 Tschaikovsky left Russia, and a year later he went to the United States with a small party of men and women who shared his political views and religious feelings. They founded a communistic settlement at “Cedar Vale,” near Wichita, in the state of Kansas, and tried to work out their new religious and social teaching. The experiment proved a failure. After two years of hard experience, Tschaikovsky and his friends were obliged to recognize that mankind was not yet ready for the communistic life which they believed to be an imminent development of the future. They regarded communistic life as senseless without a constant feeling of the presence of God in the case of each member of the community, and this essential condition could not be achieved. Therefore they returned to the “old world of antagonism.” The awakening was especially hard for Tschaikovsky, who not only found it necessary to reconstruct his conception of the world, but had a family to keep and no means of livelihood. He worked for some time as an ordinary workman in a shipbuilding yard and in a sugar factory near Philadelphia. His health broke down and with his family he joined the religious community of the Shakers, where he remained for a year.

In 1879 he returned to Europe, and in 1880 took up his residence in England, renewing his active participation in the Russian revolutionary organizations abroad; he was a member of the “Red Cross of the Narodnaia Volia,” and organized the supply of revolutionary literature to Russia. During the first Russian revolution of 1903-6 he made a tour of America, lecturing on the subject and collecting funds for the struggle against the Imperial régime. In 1907 he returned to Russia. There he was arrested on a charge of conspiracy against the Government and spent ir months in the St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress at St. Petersburg. He was released on bail, £5,000 having been collected by his friends, chiefly in England and America. In 1910 he was brought to trial and discharged for lack of proof. He remained in Russia and took a great interest in the work of coöperative organizations.

During the World War he was very active under the flag of the Russian Red Cross, supplying food to the population of the fighting area. After the revolution of 1917, he was elected member of the Council of Soldiers, Workmen and Peasants, formed at Petrograd, where he used his influence to fight the Bolshevist propaganda. He was also elected member of the Constituent Assembly. After the Bolshevist revolution, as a member of the “Committee for the Salvation of the Motherland and of the Revolution,” and of the “Committee for the Defence of the Constituent Assembly,” he helped to organize the struggle against the Bolshevists.

In 1918 he was one of the founders of the “Union of the reconstruction of Russia,” an anti-Bolshevist organization of the left parties of Moscow. He was also elected member of the Ufa Directorate. On his way to Siberia, he came to Viatka, where he took the lead in an insurrection against the Bolshevists and entered into negotiations with the Allied force at Archangel. He took part in the coup d'état of Aug. 2 at Archangel and became president of the Supreme Administrative Board of the North Region. After the break-up of a conspiracy of monarchist officers, he organized the Provisional Government of the North Region under his own leadership. Tschaikovsky was sent by his Government to Paris, where he represented the interests of the North Region before the Peace Conference. He was a member of the “Russian Political Delegation” in Paris till its dissolution in Feb. 1921. (P. Vi.)