On this day, March 13, 1881, exactly 137 years ago today, Czar Alexander II, the ruler of Russia since 1855, was killed in the streets of St. Petersburg.
A member of the revolutionary “People’s Will” threw a bomb at him as he rode in the open street.
The People’s Will, a group organized in 1879, had attempted to overthrow the Russian czarist autocracy.
The group employed terrorism and assassination in their mode of operation and according to records, murdered officials and made several attempts on the czar’s life before finally assassinating him on March 13, 1881.
In fairness to the czar, Alexander did much to liberalize and modernize Russia, including the abolishment of serfdom in 1861.
However, when his authority was challenged, he cracked down heavily on opposition movements and opposed political reforms.
Ironically, on the very day he was killed, he signed a proclamation that allowed a crucial political reform.
The proclamation would create two legislative commissions made up of indirectly elected representatives.
After his death, Alelxander was succeeded by his 36-year-old son, Alexander III, who rejected the Loris-Melikov constitution.
Meanwhile, Alexander II’s assassins were arrested and hanged, and the People’s Will was thoroughly suppressed.