The January Uprising in Polish History

In January 1863, the January Uprising was a revolt of Polish insurrectionists in Russia’s Kingdom of Poland. The revolt was a failure, but had important effects on the future independence activities of Poland.

It was the longest lasting Polish insurrection, and it protested the Russian conscription rules. Many were sent to the interior of Russia or to the Caucasus, and hundreds were killed or imprisoned. Some remained in southern Poland, but were forced to abandon their cause.

The revolt began as a protest against the new rules for the conscription of young men in the Russian army. The Russians had recently lost in the Crimean War. Having suffered a defeat, the protestors saw this as an opportunity to restore the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. They believed that this would lead to the establishment of a true independent Polish government. But the revolt was unable to recapture any major cities.

Conscription rebels gained support from workers, artisans and lower gentry. They issued a manifesto calling for a national insurrection on Jan. 22. A few months later, the uprising was suppressed by the Russians. Their suppression generated more resentment among the people of Poland.

After the uprising had ended, Russia imposed a harsh regime on the country. Initially, Luxemburg opposed the uprising, but eventually joined. In the end, however, the Russians swept away the insurgents’ hopes for a real, independent Polish government.

The insurgents established an underground government and fought against the regular Russian army. Despite being outnumbered, the uprising was successful in a few engagements. However, most of the revolt was unsuccessful.

While the uprising was mainly a protest against Russian rule, many were also motivated by the desire for a return to Polish independence. It is not clear why this was so. There is some speculation that it was the result of a price increase on liquified petroleum gas. Others say it was an agitation for new elections.

The repressive Russian regime resorted to deadly force to crush the uprising, though it had little support outside of the region. By February, tens of thousands of Poles were either imprisoned or had been exiled to Siberia.

Among the leaders of the uprising was Wladyslaw Niegolewski. He was a liberal politician and a co-founder of the Central Economic Society in 1861. Another leader was Margrave Aleksander Wielopolski, the head of the civil government in Congress Poland. During the uprising, the Margrave chose not to use a random conscription process.

At the height of the insurrection, the security services were ineffective. Journalists said they were unresponsive to requests from protesters. Thousands of demonstrators had gathered in the center of the city on Jan. 4, and the police department was not able to control the protest. Meanwhile, the Internet was shut down nationwide.

Following the revolt, Russian forces arrested most of the leaders. Several thousand people were executed and others sent to Siberia and the Urals. Despite the protests, no one was ever able to capture the capital, Warsaw.


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