Richard B. Russell, Jr., senator from Georgia.


Transcription of Annotations

Notes on front endpapers:  School lunch program. Relocation commissions p. 244. Cloture change. Eisenhower/Russell--52 Democratic ticket. Congressional Directory--1955. R.B. Russell of Winder, GA. Sound system in gallery quiet. Russell--Mayflower. Turned down invites. Lady companion/movies. Smoking, Honorarium. Civil Rights '57--Thurmond 24 hrs. 18 mins. 406 Johnson--Nov. 22, 1963--Happy to see his old friend TT but liberal agenda!  Vietnam--1964 opposed ground troops. Aug 6--supported Senate resolutions for bombing because of USS Maddox (Tokin Gulf Resolution) 475/476 Russell/Johnson relationship--"most peculiar in American history." Falling out over Judge nomination. Funeral--TV John Stennis. Yellow Post-It Note: Book TV Congress Wh[?]nd--Sept 18-19. Underlinings/notes: 10 years--Georgia General Assembly, n4 as Speaker; 1931-33 Governor; 38 years U.S. Senate; 2/3rds of his life in public service. 1952 ran for President. Death in 1971--many admirers, few personal friends. Penchant for secrecy. Reared in elite southern family. Served in public life from 1921 to 1971. Could never abandon dedication to South's traditional social values. Regional rather than true national leadership. American farmers, school lunch program. President pro tem of Senate--no major legislation bears his name. Russell Chair in American History at the U. of Georgia 1976--"Georgia Giant," "Senator's Senator," "President's Senator."  November 2, 1897.  Descended from oldest/choicest American stock. English background, great-great-grandfather sympathies with British during American Revolution--forced to flee and settle in the Bahamas. Gordon Military Institute, Barnesville, Georgia--R.B. would meet boys from leading families who might later help politically. Early baldness, big ears. 80% of Winder white/20% black. April 5, 1930--candidate for governor. Beholden to no one except the people. Sworn in by father, June 27, 1931. US Senator William J. Harris died April 18, 1932. Russell selected John S. Cohen of the Atlanta Journal as interim senator. Russell runs and wins. 10 Jan. 1933 boarded train from Atlanta to Washington. January 12, Walter F. George escorted Russell for swearing-in ceremony. Leeman Anderson. Anderson's annual salary base--$3,900, fell to $3,315. Senators received $10,000. At 35, youngest in the Senate. 1936 senate race, Tallmadge defeated. New Deal--Roosevelt could count on Russell, except when it began to impose fundamental social, political, economic change on southern society. Criticized New Deal for violating states' rights on racial matters. Farmers--need special help, victimized by other elements in American society--largest, most important economic group in the state. 255,000 farms in Georgia, farmers/families=49% of population. Assumptions that guided Russell's foreign policy: superiority of Anglo-Saxon culture, fierce patriotism--conviction in strong military defense. Firm nationalist/isolationist; angered by people making money from war. Middle aged Russell--courteous, modest, normally even-tempered, considerate, charming. Usually smoking a cigarette--two or more packs a day. By 1945--head of southern caucus. Sought credit for school lunch program. Arrived at office by 9 A.M.--worked until 6:30 or 7:00 P.M. Jack Daniels--aloof from staff, did not mingle with secretaries/clerks. People who worked with him had respect and admiration for, but did not feel close to him. "All Slop"--putrid falsehoods--charlatans of the press, vermin without pride of parentage, any hope of decent posterity. Spent $2,866 on reelection. Returned to donors surplus campaign funds. Sat near Harry Truman in Senate for almost six years--would not rate Truman in top twenty of senate. Supported nomination of Henry A. Wallace as sec. of commerce in 1945, despite charges of his being too liberal. Wanted to heal growing split developing in the Democratic Party. Northern press portrayed him as racist mossback--hated terms like "Southern Tory," "Southern Bourbon," "Polltaxer." Dick Russell refused to accept the label conservative. 1948--pleased Congress returned to Democratic control. January 27, 1949--introduced bill for Relocation Commission--to redistribute blacks throughout the US. 11 former Confederate states 24% of population; 75% of black population. Trying to prove northerners racists/hypocrites. Early 1951 southerners thought General Eisenhower/Dick Russell an unbeatable Democratic ticket. 1952 declares as Democratic presidential candidate. January 1953, Senate in Republican hands. New leader=friend Lyndon Johnson. Nominates Johnson for minority leader position. Criticized those who labeled members of Congress from the South reactionaries. John Foster Dulles, Charlie Halleck, Joe Martin. 1955 Congressional Directory. Opposed public address system in Senate chambers. Distressed by civil rights legislation/breakdown of segregation in federal agencies. WWII vet wanted to go back home and die rather than be treated in an integrated hospital. Ralph McGill of Atlanta Constitution thought South should extend basic rights to blacks. Russell supported separate but equal doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson. Southern caucus, 1953--John Sparkman, Lister Hill, John Stennis, Allen Ellender, Harry Byrd, John McClellan, Spressard Holland, Russell B. Long. 1956 only 12-13 senators, protectors of the white South. Declaration of Constitutional Principles. Estes Kefauver, Albert Gore of Tennessee would not sign. All senators from former Confederate states except Lyndon Johnson signed. House passed civil rights bill on 23 July, 1956. 18 members of southern caucus. Senate approved Civil Rights Act of 1957 by 60-15 vote--Strom Thurmond 24 hour, 18 min. filibuster against the bill. Passage of the Civil Rights bill, crisis in Little Rock and token integration in the South distressed Russell. Disappearance of southern social/racial structure. McGill admitted to not favor desegregation--preferred for things to have stayed as they were--but in conscience/Christian belief, no citizens should be treated differently. McGill depicted Russell as sick, broken man, frantically trying to be right on the racial question so as to have no opposition for the 1960 summer primary. Early 1959, Senate amended rules so that debate could be cut off by 2/3 of those present/voting rather than 2/3 of entire Senate. Happy to see LBJ in the White House.  Opposed to US as world's policeman. Wasting money on Laos. Opposed most foreign aid programs. Defender of Monroe Doctrine. 1954 on, warned US against getting involved in an Asian land war. Johnson indecisive --pushed by McNamara, Rusk, National Security Adviser McGeorge Bundy to stand tall/firm against Communist aggression in Southeast Asia. August 6, Russell spoke on behalf of resolution. 3 Jan. 1969, elected president pro tem of the US Senate. Russell held in esteem for fairness, integrity, wisdom, help to colleagues, steadfast protection of Senate traditions. O'Donnell's Sea Food Grill--lifelong practice of reading history. Leeman Anderson--figurehead in office. Lonely in later years. In Senate--Harry Byrd, Willis Robertson, in White House Lyndon Johnson. Relationship with Johnson one of the most "peculiar in American history."  Tolerance of old friend snapped--first personal appeal made to any President of the United States. Resented being treated as child or patronage-seeking ward heeler. Friendship ended over a judgeship. Died. Senate would miss his integrity, intelligence, strength of character, ability to get things done. Civil rights reformers saw him as an intractable foe. Supported Rural Electrification Administration, Resettlement Administration, Farm Security Administration, Farmers Home Administration. Supported school lunch/food stamp programs. Powerful leadership on Appropriations/Armed Services committees. Power=high point in 1951 when chaired committee investigating General Douglas MacArthur's dismissal. One of few 20th century Senate giants.


Fite, Gilbert Courtland, “Richard B. Russell, Jr., senator from Georgia. ,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 3, 2022,


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Richard B. Russell, Jr., senator from Georgia.


Fite, Gilbert Courtland


Program air date: August 2, 1992.


Biography of Senator Richard B. Russell, Jr.


"Russell, Richard B. (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971."
"United States. Congress. Senate--Biography."
"Legislators--United States--Biography."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


University of North Carolina Press
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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