Birthday: April 22, 1881
Died At Age: 89
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky
Born in: Ulyanovsk, Russia
Famous as: Political Leader
political ideology: Socialist Revolutionary
Spouse/Ex-: Lydia Ellen (Nelle) Tritton, Olga Lvovna Baranovskaya
father: Fyodor Mikhailovich Kerensky
mother: Nadezhda Kalmykova
children: Gleb, Oleg Kerensky
Died on: June 11, 1970
place of death: New York City
education: Saint Petersburg State University
Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky was a Russian lawyer who played a key political role in the Russian Revolution of 1917. Kerensky held some of the most important ranks in the newly formed Russian Provisional Government after the revolution; he first joined as the Minister of Justice and later served as the Minister of War. He also held the government's second Minister-Chairman post. As a student of law, Kerensky used to defend revolutionaries accused of political offenses as well as supported Russia’s participation in the First World War. However, he didn’t appreciate the tsarist regime’s conduct of the war effort. When the February Revolution of 1917 broke out, he publicly advocated in favor of the dissolution of the monarchy. He was a part of the Socialist Revolutionaries, the Petrograd Soviet, and was also a part of Duma; hence he was seen as a strong symbol of the working class. The political environment in Russia remained tense throughout 1917 and the newly formed government was overthrown by the Lenin-led Bolsheviks in November the same year. Following this, Kerensky had to leave the country and flee to Paris and then to New York to live in exile.
Childhood & Early Life
Alexander Kerensky was born on 4 May 1881, in Simbirsk (currently known as Ulyanovsk). He was the eldest son of Mikhailovich Kerensky, a teacher by profession, and Nadezhda Aleksandrovna. His father also owned a local gymnasium and later became the inspector of public schools.
Kerensky’s father was the teacher of Vladimir Ulyanov, popularly known as Lenin, and the two families were close friends. Kerensky moved to Tashkent with his family when he was eight, after his father was promoted to the inspector of the local schools.
He went to St. Petersburg University to study history and philology, and a year later switched to law and ended up with a law degree in 1904.
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Alexander Kerensky first came to the public view after he visited the goldfields at the Lena River and later made a report on the Lena Minefields incident—the shooting of goldfield workers on strike.
In 1912, he was elected to the Fourth Duma as a representative of the non-Marxist labor party ‘Trudoviks’, founded by Alexis Aladin; the party was also associated with the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.
He then joined the Freemason society and united the anti-monarchy forces intending to form a newly democratic Russia. In May 1914, Kerensky approached Mikhail Vladimirovich Rodzianko, carrying a list of suggestions from the Council of elders for Tsar Nicholas II.
The council had suggested bringing about changes in the domestic policy, restoring the Constitution of Finland, proclaiming a General Amnesty for political prisoners, declaring the autonomy of Poland, abolishing restrictions against Jews, bringing religious tolerance, and putting an end to the harassment of legal trade union organizations.
Kerensky always responded boldly against the imperial favorite Grigori Rasputin. In November 1916, at the opening of Duma, he publicly criticized the imperial ministers and called them “hired assassins” and “cowards”.
By the next year, Kerensky had become one of the most influential members in the Duma. Following the February Revolution of 1917, he was elected as the vice-chairman of the newly formed Petrograd Soviet and became the first ever person to hold high-ranking positions in both the Soviet and the Provisional Government. Kerensky had to deliver two different speeches to convince the concerned parties that both bodies needed to be linked in order to go forward.
He also became the only socialist to hold a cabinet position in the Provisional Government when he became the Minister of Justice in March. He brought several changes like abolishing the death penalty, removing ethnic and religious discriminations, and also made several other reforms in the Tsarist legal code.
In May, Kerensky faced severe problems as the war policy created many divisions among the ministers and eventually a lot of them made an exit from the Provisional Government. He was then made the Minister of War and was joined by six other socialists for the cause.
He openly supported Russia’s continued involvement in the ongoing World War l. The next month, more than 400,000 Russian soldiers died due to bad leadership and an undercooked plan when he launched an attack on Austrians and Germans in Galicia.
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After the collapse of the Provisional Government, his oratory skills and popularity became influential for him while replacing Georgy Lvov as prime minister.
Becoming the Prime Minister
The Provisional Government collapsed in July 1917 and Kerensky, with his outstanding oratorical style, emerged as the perfect candidate to replace Georgy Lvov as prime minister. But things went south as he dismissed his commander in chief, General Lavr G. Kornilov, and replaced him. This created major rifts within the government.
He refused to implement radical changes in social and economic programs as demanded by the left wing, thus alienating them as well. As a result, when the Bolsheviks threw him out and seized power in late 1917, he failed to gather any forces to defend his government.
Life in Exile
After the Bolsheviks seized the government, Kerensky fled to Pskov. After gathering some loyal troops, he tried to regain his lost government. However, after re-capturing the Tsarskoe Selo, they were beaten the next day in Pulkovo. Kerensky then had no choice but to stay hidden and when the opportunity came, he left the country.
He first went to Paris and tried raising money for his cause in the United States. However, due to his wife’s illness, he had to travel with her family to Australia and spend a few years there until her death in 1946. Upon the death of his wife, he returned to the United States where he spent the rest of his life.
He settled in New York City, near Central Park and spent the majority of his time at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California, contributing to the Institution's huge archive on Russian history and teaching the graduates.
Alexander Kerensky married Olga Lvovna Baranovskaya, the daughter of a Russian general, in 1904 and together they had two sons, Oleg and Gleb. Both their sons became professional engineers later on. The couple ended their marriage with a divorce in 1939.
Upon divorcing Olga Baranovskaya, Kerensky married the former Australian journalist Lydia "Nell" Tritton at Martins Creek, Pennsylvania. He later moved to Australia with her and her family as she became terminally ill. She died after suffering a heart attack in 1946.
In 1970, Alexander Kerensky died at St. Luke's Hospital in New York City due to arteriosclerotic heart disease. After the local Russian churches refused his burial, his body was taken to London and was eventually buried at the non-denominational Putney Vale Cemetery.