Declaration of Independence

Document that declared the independent democratic Republic of Estonia in February 1918

As Estonia could not be securely established as a country in early 1918, the nationally minded Estonians decided to declare the Republic of Estonia by openly reading out the declaration of independence. On 18 February 1918 a committee was formed to write the text of the declaration: members of the Province Assembly Karl Ast, Jüri Jaakson, Juhan Kukk and Jüri Vilms. The main author was Juhan Kukk, helped by the head of the Assembly’s technical department, Ferdinand Peterson (Petersen). Members of the Assembly’s council of elders approved the declaration on 21 February. The full title of the document was Manifesto to All Peoples of Estonia, and it declared Estonia an independent democratic republic. The state administration was to be determined by the Estonian Constituent Assembly.

The manifest was first publicly read out by the member of the Province Assembly, Hugo Kuusner, on the evening of 23 February at 8 p.m. from the balcony of the Endla theatre in Pärnu. In the afternoon of 24 February it was read out in Viljandi (by the mayor Gustav Talts), at noon on 25 February in Tallinn (by the prime minister of the Provisional Government, Konstantin Päts) and in Paide (battalion commander of the 4th Estonian regiment, Jaan Maide). The manifesto was printed and distributed in Pärnu, Paide and Tallinn, the text was additionally published in the daily Päevaleht on 25 February and in the paper Estonia published in St Petersburg on 26 February.

 

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