William Russell, Governor

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William Eustis Russell

Birthdate: (39)
Birthplace: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Death: July 16, 1896 (39)
Bonaventure, Bonaventure Regional County Municipality, Quebec, Canada
Place of Burial: Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Charles Theodore Russell and Sarah Elizabeth Russell
Husband of Margaret Manning Foster
Father of William Eustis Russell; Richard Manning Russell and Margaret Howell
Brother of Joseph Ballister Russell; Sarah Ann Russell; Elizabeth Ballister Bates; Josephine Emma Gilpen; Sarah Louise Bates and 3 others

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About William Russell, Governor

William Eustis Russell (1857-1896) Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1891-1894 Elected at age 34, William Eustis Russell was the youngest person elected Governor of Massachusetts. Governor Russell supported a series of pro-labor laws, eliminated the state's poll tax, and encouraged the increase of preservation of public lands. Mr. Russell grew up in Cambridge, the son of lawyer. He attended public schools, Harvard College, and the Boston University School of Law. He began practicing law with his father in Cambridge before serving as Mayor of Cambridge 1884-1887. He unsuccessfully ran for Governor twice, defeated by Oliver Ames and John Quincy Adams Brackett. In 1890, Russell won the popular election for Governor as a Democrat. Though the Massachusetts legislature was predominantly Republican, he was able to sustain vetoes and advance policies. He eliminated poll taxes in Massachusetts and began an inheritance tax. He advocated and signed a series of pro-labor laws and established the Trustees of Public Reservations to preserve open spaces. Governor Russell declined to run for a fourth term and retired to his legal practice. He remained active in the Democratic Party. Russell's son, Richard Manning Russell would go on to also serve as Mayor of Cambridge and represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Congress in the 1930s

http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/18928858/person/1024267770/mediax/1?pgnum=1&pg=0&pgpl=pid%7CpgNum __________________________________

A biography from the period reads: "To be governor of Massachusetts is, as it has been since the beginning of the republic, an honor to any man. Doubly great is it when the man who becomes governor has but lately attained manhood. This honor came to William Eustit Russell, who was born in Cambridge, Mass., January 6, 1857. He received the ordinary common-school education, but was widely popular, and when he was but twenty-five years of age was elected alderman and showed such marked ability that he was re-elected without opposition. In 1885 he became a candidate for mayor of Cambridge and was re-elected for three terms. He abandoned politics and went into business, but was called into the field again by the clamor of his party as the most available man in all Massachusetts for the Democratic party. He was made candidate for governor, but was defeated by a vote of twenty-eight thousand, He was again nominated in the succeeding year and was again defeated, but this time by only six thousand seven hundred and seventy-five votes. In 1890 he was again nominated and elected by nearly nine thousand plurality. He was re-elected at the end of his term and retain his place until the Republican upheaval in Massachusetts. He is one of the shrewdest and most careful of the young men in politics, for he is not yet forty years of age. His extraordinary success in such a state, at such an age, and under such circumstances, made him a prominent figure, and he has become, to an extent, conspicuous as a possible Democratic candidate for vice-president of the United States. He is one of the possible great factors in directing the affairs, not merely of his own state, but of the nation. It is already the political fancy to talk of him as presidential a possibility."




William Eustis Russell (January 6, 1857 - July 16, 1896) was a U.S. political figure. He served as the 37th Governor of Massachusetts between 1891 and 1894, becoming the state's youngest ever elected Governor at age 34.


Russell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Charles Theodore Russell and Sarah Elizabeth (Ballister) Russell. On his father's side, he was descended from Thomas Hastings who came from the East Anglia region of England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634. Russell is the great grandfather of writer Thomas E. Ricks and Libertarian Carla Howell.

Education and early career

Russell graduated from Harvard College in 1877. In 1879, he received his law degree from the Boston University School of Law, and was the first to graduate summa cum laude from that school. While studying at BU he won the Lawrence prize for the best legal essay. He was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1880 and began the practice of law with his father's Boston firm, Russell & Russell, of which two of his brothers were also members. He also became an active member of the Democratic Party. He was elected to the common council of Cambridge in 1881, and to the board of aldermen in 1883 and 1884.

Mayor of Cambridge

Russell served as Mayor of Cambridge for four 1-year terms from 1885–1888,[8] being reelected with no opposition at least twice. While in office, he solicited a sizable donation from philanthropist Frederick Hastings Rindge for Cambridge City Hall, a Manual Training School (now Cambridge Rindge and Latin School), and Cambridge's library. Russell's son, Richard Manning Russell, was later also Mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Russell's efficient administration as mayor, particularly in the enforcement of the local-option law, and his effective campaign speeches during the Presidential campaign of 1884 made him a prominent figure in state politics. He twice ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Massachusetts in 1888 and 1889, defeated by Oliver Ames and John Quincy Adams Brackett.

Governor of Massachusetts

Russell finally won the governorship in 1890 in a rematch of the 1889 contest with Brackett. He was twice reelected, in 1891 and 1892. His election as governor for three successive years was a remarkable testimony to his personal integrity and popularity, as the majority of the legislature and the state officials were Republicans. His administration was marked by impartiality and lack of partisanship.[6] As governor, several laws were passed on his recommendation, including a measure to regulate the lobby, and a law abolishing the property qualification for governor and the poll tax. Russell's administration also saw the beginning of an inheritance tax. He advocated and signed a series of pro-labor laws and established the Trustees of Reservations to preserve open spaces. He decided not to run for reelection in 1893, and resumed the practice of law.

During the 1892 presidential campaign, there was talk of Russell being the Vice Presidential nominee if Senator John M. Palmer were to receive the Democratic Presidential nomination. In early February 1892, Palmer and Patrick A. Collins, a former Democratic Massachusetts Congressman, agreed make Palmer the Democratic Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Governor William Russell, Collin’s personal and political friend, the Vice Presidential candidate. Collins argued that Palmer, a Western Senator of Kentucky stock, would be acceptable to the Southern Democrats. Objections to Palmer's advanced age would be met by pointing out that Russell, the youngest governor in the nation, would become president in the event of his death. Russell's nomination would command the support of New England Democrats.

In 1894, he was appointed a member of the board of Indian commissioners. In 1896, he was one of the most active opponents of the adoption of the free silver platform at the Democratic National Convention, and distinguished himself by a remarkable speech pleading for a return to the original principles of democracy; he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for the presidency by those who favored the gold standard.


Russell died on July 16, 1896 in his sleep after retiring to bed early from a day of salmon-fishing with his brother, Henry, at a camp on the Little Pabos River just north of Sainte-Adelaide-de-Pabos, Quebec, Canada.


In 1903, the William E. Russell School was built at 750 Columbia Road in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood. Architect James Mulcahy designed the building. It still serves as a Boston Public elementary school.


Massachusetts Governor. In 1891, at the age of 34, Russell became the youngest governor in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Prior to that, he attended Harvard University and Boston University and practiced law. He also served as mayor of Cambridge. While governor, he pushed for labor law reforms, encouraged preservation of open spaces, eliminated the poll tax, and supported the inheritance tax. Russell, a Democrat, served three one year terms and declined to run again in 1893. Given his death at age 39, Russell is also the shortest-lived Massachusetts governor. (bio by: Thomas J Fraser)


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William Russell, Governor's Timeline

January 6, 1857
Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States
July 16, 1896
Age 39
Bonaventure, Bonaventure Regional County Municipality, Quebec, Canada
Cambridge, Middlesex, Massachusetts, United States