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Gov. Daniel L. Russell

Daniel Lindsay Russell, Jr. (August 7, 1845 – May 14, 1908) was the 49th Governor of North Carolina from 1897 to 1901, an attorney and judge, and a politician. Although he fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War, he and his father were both Unionists. After the war, Russell joined the Republican Party in North Carolina, unusual among its members because he came from the planter class. He served as a state judge, as well as in the state and national legislatures. In 1896, he was elected governor on a Fusionist ticket, a collaboration between Republicans and Populists that was victorious over the conservative Democrats. He served one term and retired from politics.

Early life and education[]

Born on Winnabow Plantation in Brunswick County near Wilmington, North Carolina, Russell belonged to a prominent planter family. He received his early education from private teachers and attended the Bingham School in Orange County, North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but left upon the outbreak of the American Civil War. He served as a captain in the Confederate Army.


Russell was elected as a member of the North Carolina House of Commons, serving 1864-1866. During that time, he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1866; he set up practice in Wilmington. He and his father had both been Union sympathizers during the war, and Russell joined the Republican Party.

In 1868, he was appointed a Superior Court judge in the 4th judicial circuit, a post he held until 1874. In 1871 he was a delegate to a state constitutional convention. In 1876, despite the activity of the Red Shirts paramilitary and struggle of Democratic white supremacists to regain control in the state, Russell was elected again to the North Carolina House of Representatives. He was a delegate to the 1876 Republican National Convention.

On November 5, 1878, Russell was elected to the 46th United States Congress, running on the Republican and Greenback tickets; in a close election, he defeated incumbent Alfred M. Waddell by 11,611 votes to 10,730.[1] Russell served one term (March 4, 1879 - March 4, 1881) and did not stand for renomination.

In the mid-1890s, the new Populist Party allied with the Republican Party in North Carolina; the alliance ran "Fusion" candidates for many offices. In 1896, however, the two parties held separate state conventions to allow the Populists to nominate Presidential Electors pledged to William J. Bryan. At the Republican state convention in Raleigh on May 16, 1896, Russell was nominated for Governor on the seventh ballot over former U.S. Representative Oliver H. Dockery. Dockery, disgruntled, convinced the Populists to run a separate statewide slate of candidates against the Republicans, with Dockery as the Populist nominee for Lieutenant Governor.

On November 3, 1896, Russell was elected Governor of North Carolina. He won with 153,787 votes (46.5%) to 145,266 votes for Democrat Cyrus B. Watson, 31,143 for Populist William A. Guthrie, and 809 for others.[2]

Russell was the first Republican governor of North Carolina since the end of Reconstruction and the last until 1973. He served one four-year term. Although he was not up for election in 1898, Democrats used him as a foil in another white supremacist campaign. He had helped extend the franchise for the first time since Reconstruction. A biracial city government had been elected in Wilmington, the state's largest city.

Tensions were so high in 1898 that white agitators engendered mob violence in Wilmington, then a black-majority city. Their insurrection was a coup d'etat against the major and city council. Alfred Waddell, his previous opponent, led a mob of white men in attacking the offices and destroying the printing plant for the only African-American newspaper. The mob moved through the city's African-American neighborhoods, killing some people and chasing hundreds of blacks from the city. It installed Waddell as mayor that same day.

After finishing his term, Russell resumed the practice of law and also engaged in agricultural pursuits. Russell died at his Belville Plantation, near Wilmington, in 1908. He was interred in the family burying ground in Onslow County, North Carolina.


External links[]

Template:Start box Template:S-off |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Elias Carr |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of North Carolina
1897–1901 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Charles Brantley Aycock |- |}

Template:Governors of North Carolina

de:Daniel Russell