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Daniel Lindsay Russell, Jr., 1845-1908

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Daniel Lindsay Russell, Jr., 1845-1908

Description

Daniel Russell, a former Confederate soldier, became disillusioned by Southern leadership during the Civil War and joined the Republican Party in 1867. He served one term in Congress as a member of the Greenback Party in 1878 and became an advocate for the fusion ticket in North Carolina in the 1894 and 1896 election years. He served as Governor of North Carolina between 1897 and 1901, a period straddling the White Supremacy Campaign on 1898. With the successes of the Democrats in the 1898 and 1900 elections, the moderately progressive changes Russell helped to implement in election laws (which helped more people vote) were reversed, and North Carolina was led into the era of Jim Crow.

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Griffin, Kelsey

Text

Daniel Russell was born on August 7, 1845, in Brunswick County, North Carolina, on the Winnabow Plantation. His parents were Daniel Lindsay and Carolina Sanders Russell. Both the Lindsay and Russell families were wealthy slave owners at the time of Daniel L. Russell’s birth. Politically aligned to the Whig party by the 1860s, Russell’s family did not support the secession of North Carolina, although most others in the Lower Cape Fear region were staunch Democrats. (Powell 1994, 271) When North Carolina did secede in May 1861, however, the family supported their fellow Confederates, and Russell dropped out of the University of North Carolina and joined the military. ("North Carolina Election of 1898 collection")

Although Russell remained in the army until 1864, his sympathies for the Confederacy did not last long. He was dissatisfied by the army’s organization and structure and became disillusioned by the Confederate leaders, especially President Jefferson Davis. After a scuffle with a superior officer in 1864, a young Russell left the army for the world of politics. To save him from the consequences of violently attacking the officer, Whig Governor Zebulon Vance and other high-ranking political officials helped secure Russell the appointment for commissioner of Brunswick County, thus easing Russell’s transition from military to politics. He went on to serve in the state legislature before obtaining his law degree in 1868 and serving as a state superior court justice as a newly registered Republican. He held that position until 1874. (Powell, 272)

After failing to be reelected to the superior court, in 1878 Russell served one term in the United States Congress as a member of the Greenback Party. By the 1890s, Russell began advocating for the fusionist ticket joining the Populists and Republicans. He won the Fusionist gubernatorial nomination in 1896 in the mist of heated political debate. The Democrats found him an easy target for their propaganda campaign and criticized him for his moderate progressive policies, including efforts to make it easier for more people to register to vote. They declared that “Russellism” needed to be defeated ("North Carolina Election of 1898 collection"). By 1898, Governor Russell found himself in the middle of the heated White Supremacy Campaign of the Democrats, receiving criticism from all sides. Although he served out the remainder of his term, Governor Russell disappeared from the political scene shortly after 1901. He died in Wilmington in 1908 near his family’s farm (Powell, 272).

Bibliography

Powell, William Stevens. "Russell, Daniel." Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, vol. 5. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

"The North Carolina Election of1898" North Carolina Digital Collection. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina. Accessed April 4, 2012, http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/1898/bios/russell.html.

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Daniel L. Russell

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Griffin, Kelsey, Daniel Lindsay Russell, Jr., 1845-1908, Civil War Era NC, accessed December 9, 2019, https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/198.