On October 12 (25) 1905 in Moscow on the initiative of the “Union of Liberation” and the “Union of Constitutionalist-Zemtsy” was opened a founding congress of the Constitutional Democratic Party (Kadets).
The congress brought together both “liberators”, and those who weren’t members of the “Union of Liberation”: most participants were workers of zemstvo and municipal self-government, professors of higher educational institutions, lawyers and doctors.
The party’s first committee, elected at the October congress, included V.I. Vernadskiy, J.V. Gessen, princes Pavel Dmitrievich Dolgorukov and Pyotr Dmitrievich Dolgorukov, N.A. Kablukov, F.F. Kokoshkin, A.A. Kornilov, I.V. Luchitskiy, P.N. Milyukov, S.A. Muromtsev, V.D. Nabokov, I.I. Petrunkevich, prince D.I. Shakhovskoy. The leader of the party was Russian historian and political writer Pavel Nikolayevich Milyukov.
Participants of the congress worked out the program of the Constitutional Democratic Party and its charter. The key idea of the Kadets program was a non-violent development of Russia following the way of liberal parliamentary reforms. The party propagated equal rights for all Russian citizens without distinction of sex, religion or nationality. The program featured a proposition concerning abolishment of all restrictions based on classes or nationality; it enunciated personal immunity and inviolability of the home; right to freedom of movement; freedom of consciousness, speech, press, assembly, association and religion. Kadets supported the parliamentary system, based on universal and equal suffrage by secret and direct ballot; broad development of democratic local self-government; independent judiciary; incensement of peasant land possessions with state, cabinet and monastery lands, and also with purchase of privately owned lands at fair value (not market); freedom of workers’ unions and strikes; development of factory legislation and 8-hours working day; universal free and compulsory primary education; complete autonomy of Finland and Poland.
In January 1906 during the Second Congress of the party to its name was added: “People’s Freedom Party” and the program included the following point: “Russia should become a constitutional and parliamentary monarchy”.
The supreme organ of the Kadets party was congress, which elected the Central Committee. The latter consisted of two departments: Petersburg and Moscow. The Petersburg Department was responsible for a further development of the program, prepared bills for submission to the State Duma, managed the duma faction. The Moscow Department was occupied with publishing activities and organization of propaganda work. Membership of the Central Committee was constantly updated.
Members of the Central Committee were mostly representatives of bourgeois intelligentsia — lecturers of higher and secondary educational institutions, doctors, engineers, lawyers, writers, art workers, as well as representatives of liberal-oriented landowners and bourgeoisie. The party also included a small number of craftsmen, workers and peasants.
In 1906-1907 the general number of Kadets members ranged between 50-60 thousand people. After the revolution of 1905-1907 there was a dramatic reduction in the number of local organizations. However after the victory of the 1917 February revolution began a revival of local Kadets committees, while the general number of the party grew to 70 thousand people.
Constitutional-Democratic Party split in May 1921 in Paris during the congress of the Central Committee. Thus two groups appeared: the Democratic — under Milyukov, and the rest part of Kadets headed by Gessen and Kaminka. Since then the Constitutional Democratic Party ceased to exist as a unified political organization.Lit: Аврех А. Я. Русский буржуазный либерализм: особенности исторического развития // Вопросы истории. 1989. № 2. С. 17—31; Вардин И. Раскол партии кадетов // Красная новь. 1921. № 3. С. 272—284; Милюков П. Н. Вспоминания: 1859—1917. Т. 1—2. М., 1990; Протоколы ЦК партии кадетов: Документы и материалы. Т. 1. М., 1996; Сикиринский С. С., Шелохаев В. В. Либерализм в России: Очерки истории. М., 1995; Степанов С. А. Кадеты (Конституционно-демократическая партия) // Вестник Российского университета дружбы народов. Серия: Политология. 2006. № 8. C. 75—84; Шацилло Ф. Русский либерализм накануне революции 1905–1907 гг. М., 1985; Шелохаев В. В. Кадеты — главная партия либеральной буржуазии. 1907–1917 гг. М., 1991; Шелохаев В. В. Либеральная модель переустройства России. М., 1996.
From the Presidential library materials:
Воблый К. Г. Земельный вопрос в программах различных партий. Трудовики (народные социалисты). Социалисты революционеры. Социал-демократы. Партия народной свободы. Союз частных земельных собственников. Киев, 1917;
Программа Партии народной свободы (Конституционно-демократической): принята на Учредительном съезде 18 октября 1905 года: изменения внесены на Втором съезде 5 января 1906 года и на Седьмом и Восьмом съездах 25 марта и от 9 по 12 мая 1917 года. Владикавказ, 1917;