Out in Chicago Abraham Moiseyevitch Krasnichakov was plain Mr. Tobinson, but for three years he has enjoyed great authority under his own name as head of the Far Eastern Republic.
There is nothing lacking in either romance or adventure in the story of A. Stroller Tobinson. He was born in the city of Chernobyl, in the province of Kiev, in Russia, and fled to the United States about the time his brother was executed in Odessa for some connection with revolutionary activities. This was in 1904.
Tobinson was a Russian law student of unusual ability, but when he arrived in America a poor immigrant he found his Russian education of little use ; he first had to learn the English language.
In Chicago he went to work as a house painter and attended night school. In 1912 he was admitted to the bar, but never was a great success as a lawyer. And while he took only a passive interest in the radical movement, yet he continually gave his services in all sorts of labor cases.
Not until he, somehow, became interested in organizing a preparatory school for workers who wanted to go to college did he seem. to hit his medium. From that time on he rapidly developed into an organizer and leader, and soon assumed charge of all the educational work connected with the Workers' Institute.
He started with a broad program which shut out all petty, political and group influences. He was a born teacher, and nothing is more rare than a good teacher.
His intense interest in the education of the masses was really what carried him back to Siberia in 1917. And there one ofthose curious historical situations arose which suddenly thrust him unexpectedly and unprepared into power.
He was one of the numerous candidates for President up before the Constitutional Assembly of the Far Eastern Republic. He certainly never expected to be elected. It was the stupidity of his political rivals which gave him this position. A day or two before the election some one wrote a vicious attack upon him in one of the papers, asking the people of Siberia if they wanted a "porter," a common house painter, to guide the affairs of the republic.
When Tobinson read this he was furious to think that his hard struggles in America as an emigrant were thrown at him as if they were a disgrace. He sat down and wrote a letter explaining that he had had a good education, both in Russia and America, that he was not actually a workman, but a lawyer. When he had finished writing this explanation, he put it in his pocket and started toward the office of the same paper. On the street he was met by a delegation of workingmen, who threw their arms around him and called him "Comrade."
One of them said: "We were against you until we read what the bourgeois are saying, but now we are all on your side; we want a man who is one of us." This was the beginning of Tobinson's popularity and this is the story of how he became President of the Far Eastern Republic.
Tobinson was not a Communist. His connections had been more with groups who simply revolted against the medieval tyranny which had existed in Russia. But he admired Lenin above all the revolutionists, and was of the opinion that Lenin was the only revolutionary leader who could hold Russia together. Therefore he secretly allied himself with the Communist government at Moscow.
He had two strong convictions. . One was that Siberia wasn't ready for Communism, and that even if it was it would be destroyed by the J apa .. nese or by the Allies. Therefore, the only thing to do was to keep it a buffer state between Japan and the Soviets. To do this and placate all sides took infinite tact.
Tobinson proved equal to the task. His record in the last three years is a record of extraordinary achievement. He has established schools with the most modern methods; and against the most terrific odds he has slowly but surely made the life of the Far Eastern Republic one of steady, national reconstruction. I don't think he believed for a minute that it should be permanently separated from Russia.