In the 19th century, there were numerous secret societies, groups and associations that formed in opposition to the Tsar; they advocated the overthrow of autocracy, and participated in revolutionary activities. For example, in 1881, Alexander III was assassinated by the terrorist organization called the People's Will. Nonetheless, it was not until the first decade of the 20th century that Russian revolutionaries gained the support of the Russian masses or presented any insurmountable challenges to the Russian government.
In the early 20th century, the Russian workers and peasants began to support the revolutionaries in their struggle against the Tsar. In 1903, the Bolsheviks, a revolutionary faction led by Vladimir Illych Lenin, gained control of the Russian Social Democratic newspaper Iskra, the Spark, at the Second Party Conference in London. After the Russian defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, Russian popular discontent rose to the surface. A wave of uprisings and strikes pressured the Tsar, Nicolas II, to yield to the revolutionary coalition's demands. The Tsar established a Duma, or parliament, and appointed the country's first Prime Minister.