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Autonomy under Russia
Tiina Tuulasvaara-Kaleva

Finland moved to Imperial Russia from the kingdom of Sweden in the War of Finland 1808-1809. Alexander I visited Tampere in 1819. Imperial fervour grew and unprecedented preparations were made in the town, houses were restored and streets repaired. Some years after the visit the Emperor granted Tampere free city rights which meant that it was possible to export and import industrial raw materials without state customs duties.

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Tampere administration gradually became similar to that in other towns. By the 1830s the steward had been replaced by a mayor. The old administrative system had changed into city court and city administrative court. The mayor and the members of the magistrates' court invited the wealthier bourgeoisie and merchants to city administrative court meetings to negotiate the issues. Municipal battles often involved slaps in the face and insults. In the mid-nineteenth century there were two ”parties” in Tampere. The city administrative court party consisted of the wealthier bourgeoisie and merchants, and the so-called artisan party promoted the affairs of the ordinary townspeople. City jobs were often part-time jobs. The church had the responsibility for school issues and poor relief. Wilhelm von Nottbeck, the patron of Finlayson factory, considered Tampere's free city rights essential. Through his wife he had good relations directly to the Tsar's court. In 1855 Alexander II confirmed Tampere's free city rights for the next 50 years to come and also visited Nottbeck's wooden palace.

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Tampere administration changed with the introduction of the new municipal law in 1875. The decision-making body became the town council, chosen through election. The number of votes was calculated on the basis of the amount of tax an individual paid. People who worked for others, for example factory workers, were not allowed to vote, although they did pay taxes. Only one per cent of Tampere inhabitants voted in the first election. The city treasury became the body to execute the council's decisions. Party politics between the Swedish-minded and the Finnish-minded began also in Tampere in the 1880s. The key issues of disputes were the questions of alcohol and suffrage, as well as the position of the workers. Tampere Workers' Association was founded in 1885 with the support of the enlightened bourgeoisie. The second national conference of workers' associations was held in 1896, at a time when workers' associations began to have distinct class and party political colour. Both the workers and the suffragette movement demanded equal and universal suffrage. The insufficiency of civil rights and the oppression policy of Russia made wide circles of citizens protest in the so-called major strike of 1905. As a result of the strike, Finns got equal and universal suffrage in the general election of 1906.

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