Dimitri Von Mohrenschildt, Toward a United States of Russia: Plans and Projects of Federal Reconstruction of Russia in the Nineteenth Century, 1981.


How important was the federal-regional trend in nineteenth-century Russian history and political thought? This study aims to find an answer by bringing together plans and programs of a federal nature advanced during the century by the opposition to the imperial regime and, to some extent, by the government itself. The approach has been partly biographical and partly descriptive- analytical with an emphasis on the development of federal ideas and the sources of these ideas, whether native or Western.

Georg von Rauch's book Russland: staatliche Einheit und nationale Vielfalt (1953) covers federal ideas and programs just prior to and during the Revolution of 1905, the Duma period, and the Provisional Government. It thus seemed advisable to limit this study to 1900, since the formation of major Russian political parties early in the twentieth century belongs more to the period of the Revolution of 1905 and is covered by Dr. von Rauch's book. The arrangement of material is strictly chronological for the first half of the century and topical-chronological for the second. Pan-Slav federal projects have not been included as they have been dealt with by Frank Fadner, Edward C. Thaden, and others.

In connection with the chapter on Siberian regionalism, I regret the inaccessibility of the Siberian journals, especially Vostochnoe obozrenie, as well as of a number of investigations of the subject by Soviet scholars. This material would have also benefited the section of the chapter dealing with the life and works of A. P. Shchapov. [8]

Before the Revolution of 1905, censorship would not have allowed discussions of federalism. There appears to be only one prerevolutionary study of the subject, by the legal scholar A. lashchenko. It contains a brief survey of Russian federalism.1 The author's point of view is that of the Russian political Right. Federalism, he believes, is not suitable for Russia; sovereignty must not be fragmented, and Russia must remain one and indivisible. In the Soviet Union, democratic federalism has been an even less popular subject for investigation than under the imperial regime. In a limited way and for a brief period the subject was discussed just before the pseudofederal Organisation of the Soviet Union was established. Basically, Marxism-Leninism has always been and remains inimical to federalism as understood in the West. In 1930, however, there appeared a monograph by M. A. Rubach, "The Federalist Theories in Russian History".2 The author analyzed from the Marxist standpoint the various federal projects from N. Muraviev's to M. Grushevsky's. He associated Russian federalism primarily with the borderlands and the populist movement. The rapid development of capitalism in Russia in the last quarter of the century strengthened, Rubach believed, the ties between the borderlands and the center and "prepared the ground for economic centralism."3 This development, he concluded, effectively put an end to Russian federalism. His attitude to Ukrainian nationalism is one of contempt. "The new federalism in the Ukraine Inspired by the father of anarchy, Proudhon," is an absurdity he thinks, which cannot last long.4

Traditional Russian historiography has always emphasised the basic unity of the state and paid little attention to nationality, regionalism, and local autonomy. An exception to this was the emigre scholar S. G. Svatikov (1878-1942), who approached Russian history from the point of view of regionalism with a special emphasis on autonomy and federalism. He was professor of history at the University of St. Petersburg from 1906 to 1917. In the 1920s he taught courses on Russian history at the University of Paris and the Institut de Hautes Etudes in Brussels. He published extensively on Russian regional movements, in Siberia, the Don, [9] and the national movement in the Ukraine.5 Svatikov's unusual approach to Russian history provided a stimulus and inspiration for this study.

The material for this book has been gathered in the Library and Archive of the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, where most of the research was done; in the libraries of Stanford and Columbia Universities; in the Archive of Russian and East European History of Columbia University; in the Widner Library at Harvard University; in the New York Public Library; in the Bibliotheque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine, Nanterre, France; in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris; and in the Bibliotheque de l'Institut d'Etudes Slaves, Paris.

I wish to thank the following for permission to reprint material from published works: the Russian Review, for permission to use my article "Shchapov: Exponent of Regionalism and the Federal School in Russian History," Russian Review 38, no. 4 (October 1978): 387-404; Anthony Sheil Associates Ltd, for permission to quote from George Woodcock, Anarchism, New York, 1962 (U.S.A., Meridian Books; U.K., Penguin Books); Professor Thomas S. Fedor, for permission to reproduce two maps from Patterns of Urban Growth in the Russian Empire during the Nineteenth Century, Chicago, 1975; and Professor Marc Raeff, for permission to quote from Plans for Political Reform in Imperial Russia, Englewood, 1966.

I should like to acknowledge my indebtedness to the Earhart Foundation for a grant which made it possible for me to do research in various libraries of the United States and France. Thanks are due to the Hoover Institution for enabling me to use its magnificent resources and to the Hoover Library staff for their unfailing courtesy and friendly assistance. I am indebted to Professor Pushkarev of Yale University, who was an early inspirer of this study. Thanks are due also to Professor Emmons of Stanford University and Mrs. A. Bourguina, Curator of the Nicolaevsky Collection at the Hoover Institution, for bibliographical advice. Last but not least, I cannot thank, enough Sutapa of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, [10] Pondicherry, India, who typed the entire manuscript -- selflessly and with characteristic devotion to perfection.

I have used the Library of Congress system of transliteration with simplifications: the soft sign was omitted, except in a few cases where it seemed advisable to retain it; Russian family names ending in skii are rendered by y, Polish names by i; the Ukrainian h is transliterated by g, except in titles of books and articles, when it is rendered by h.

Dates are according to the Old Style (Julian calendar), which was 12 days behid the Western (Gregorian calendar) in the nineteenth century and 13 days behind in the twentieth.

-Dimitri Von Mohrenschildt
Pondicherry, India


1 . A. lashchenko, Teoriia federalisma. Opyt sinteticheskoi teorii prava i gosudarstva (luriev, 1912), pp. 747-91.

2. M. A. Rubach, "Federalisticheskie teorii v istorii Rossii," in M. Pokrovsky, ed., Russkaia istoricheskaia literatura v klassovorn osveshchenii (Moscow, 1930), 2:3-120. It was written in 1924-25; two chapters were omitted in the 1930 edition, one of which was on Dragomanov. See Rubach, p. 3 fn.

3. Rubach, p. 112.

4. Ibid., pp. 113-15.

5. The following are some of his publications: Obsbchestvennoe dvizhenie v Rossi . I . 1700-1895 (Rostov-on-Don, 1905); Rossiia i Don, 1549-1917 (Belgrade, 1924); Rossiia i Sibir (Prague, 1929). Svatikov's major archive, consisting of extensive correspondence, manuscripts, notes, and reprints of articles from various Russian periodicals in Czechoslovakia and France, is at the Archive of Russian and East European History at Columbia University. The Nicolaevsky Collection at the Hoover Institution at Stanford also has a number of items, mostly notes and manuscripts of several articles.