Who Is Alexander Kerensky?


Quick Answer

Alexander Kerensky was a moderate socialist who led Russia between July and October, 1917. A lawyer in his private life, Kerensky became the minister of justice for the Russian Provisional Government in the wake of the February Revolution of 1917 that ousted the czar. He became prime minister in July, but his term ended with the rise of the Bolsheviks in the October Revolution just months later.

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Born in 1881, Alexander Fyodorovich Kerensky grew up the son of a teacher, eventually going to St. Petersburg University, where he studied law. Before the revolution, Kerensky was involved in socialist politics as both a parliamentarian in opposition to the czar's party and as a lawyer defending people accused of revolutionary activities. A strong supporter of the revolution, he became a central force in the Russian Provisional Government and eventually became prime minister after previous cabinets had torn themselves apart over World War I, economic policy and the status of Russia's various colonial territories.

Though a dramatic and charismatic speaker, Kerensky was unable to unite the factions in his government. He alienated the moderates and conservatives by replacing military commanders and assuming dictatorial powers and angered the left wing by not radically restructuring the economy. His continued support of the unpopular World War I was the most contentious issue, though. Tired by three years of war, the Russian populace responded enthusiastically to the Bolsheviks' message of peace. Kerensky fled the country, living largely in France and the United States until his death, in 1970.

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