On This Day
1905 – Czar Nicholas II issues the October Manifesto, granting the Russian peoples basic civil liberties and the right to form a duma. (October 17 in the Julian calendar)
The October Manifesto (Russian: Октябрьский манифест, Манифест 17 октября), officially “The Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order” (Манифест об усовершенствовании государственного порядка), is a document that served as a precursor to the Russian Empire’s first Russian Constitution of 1906, which would be adopted the next year. The Manifesto was issued by Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918, ruled 1894-1917), under the influence of Sergei Witte (1849-1915), on 30 October [O.S. 17 October] 1905 as a response to the Russian Revolution of 1905. Nicholas strenuously resisted these ideas, but gave in after his first choice to head a military dictatorship, Grand Duke Nicholas, threatened to shoot himself in the head if the Tsar did not accept Witte’s suggestion. Nicholas reluctantly agreed, and issued what became known as the October Manifesto, promising basic civil rights and an elected parliament called the Duma, without whose approval no laws were to be enacted in Russia in the future. According to his memoirs Witte did not force the Tsar to sign the October Manifesto, which was proclaimed in all the churches.
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Born On This Day
1728 – Mary Hayley, English businesswoman (d. 1808)
Mary Hayley née Wilkes (30 October 1728 – 9 May 1808) was an English businesswoman. She parlayed an inheritance from her first husband into a sizeable estate with her second husband. Upon the latter’s death, she took over the business and successfully operated a shipping firm from 1781 to 1792 before living out her life in Bath.
Hayley was born in 1728 in London to the prosperous distiller Israel Wilkes Jr. and was a sister to the politician John Wilkes. Kind-hearted but opinionated, she lived an unconventional life and was known for her astute observation and discussion, based upon her wide reading. Refusing to bow to custom, she attended trials at the Old Bailey and traveled throughout Britain to satisfy her wide-ranging curiosity. Marrying a widower, Samuel Storke Jr., in 1752, she became a widow within the year with a young step-son. As her husband’s sole heir, she inherited his business and soon after his death married his chief clerk, George Hayley. He turned out to be a shrewd businessman, increasing her inherited wealth tenfold during his lifetime. Their business established extensive trade relationships with the American colonies, supplying the tea which gained infamy in the Boston Tea Party.
After her second husband’s death and the end of the American Revolution, American merchants owed Hayley a large debt and she became one of the few Britons who successfully recouped their losses after the war. In 1784, she purchased a frigate used by both the Continental Navy and British Navy and had it refurbished as a whaling and sealing vessel. She rechristened the frigate the United States and moved to Boston, where she lived for eight years. Unusually for women at the time, she became a benefactor, donating money and goods to charitable endeavours, and ran a whaling business. Her first venture, a voyage to the Falkland Islands, resulted in a shipment of whale oil, which was seized by the British government in 1785. She successfully recouped her losses from the Crown, as it was unable to prove that she owed duty, as British merchants were exempt if one-third of their crew was also British.
In 1786, Hayley married a Scottish merchant in Boston, Patrick Jeffrey. In 1792, she left him and returned to England with the stipulation that he never again appear in her presence. After a brief stay in London, she lived out her days in Bath.
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