Finnish Independence

Finnish Independence

US #1334 was issued for the 50th anniversary of Finnish Independence.

On December 6, 1917, Finland declared its independence. 

The Kingdom of Sweden had ruled Finland since the 13th century.  In 1742, during the Russian occupation in the Russo-Swedish War, the first recorded mention of Finnish independence was made.  At that time, Empress Elizabeth of Russia spoke to the people of Finland in the Finnish language telling them to create a Finland that was independent from Sweden and Russia.  A duke was elected – but no further action was taken. 

Then in 1808, the Finnish War broke out between Russia and Sweden.  In the end, Russia took control of Finland and established it as the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1809.  Under Russian rule, Finland developed governing bodies and was “elevated as a nation among nations.”  Finland also began to develop a national identity – encouraging the people to use the Finnish language instead of Swedish and adopting their own currency. 

US #1334 – Classic First Day Cover.

However, by the early 1900s, tensions began to rise between Finland and Russia.  Russia ordered changes to the Finnish army, demanding that they only fight to defend Finland, but that they might also be called on to fight for Russia on any front.  A resistance movement formed to combat Russian rule.  During the Russo-Japanese War, they unsuccessfully attempted to smuggle a large number of guns by steamship.  Later that year, the Finnish general strike briefly stopped the Russification of Finland. 

US #1334 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.

Finland then created a liberal democracy with the right to vote and be elected.  They also established a Parliament, but their power was limited by Russia.  Russia began pushing for greater control over Finland, but the outbreak of World War I stopped much of these plans.  Two thousand Finnish volunteers then traveled to Germany to train as elite light infantry for the resistance movement.  They then went to Russia to fight against the Russian Empire.    

Finland #84//142 – Finland stamps issued during the first 10 years of independence.

In 1917, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated and Russia’s control over Finland began to dissolve.  Finnish authorities then entered into negotiations with Russia’s Provisional Government.  On December 4, 1917, the Senate of Finland released a declaration of independence, and parliament adopted the declaration two days later.  A portion of the preamble states, “…Finland’s people step forward as a free nation among the other nations in the world…”

Item #M3275 – Get 50 Finland stamps for $5.

The transition to an independent nation was not easy.  A civil war soon broke out between conservative and socialist forces.  After a brief monarchy with ties to Germany, Finland finally held free elections in March 1919.  The country became a republic and was recognized by the US and Britain.

Click here to read the Finnish Declaration of Independence.

Click here for more Finland stamps.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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2 responses to "Finnish Independence"

2 thoughts on “Finnish Independence”

  1. Well done. It’s also interesting that Lenin facilitated Finnish independence whereas Stalin was opposed. Under the cover of WW II Stalin tried to reconquer Finland. The Finns defended their independence heroically, but they ended up fighting both the Russians and the Germans.

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  2. Correction: Monarchy was never established, just proposed in the parliament by conservatives. They even invited a German ruler of Hesse to be the king, but the man declined in recognition of the conflict with the democratic majority.

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