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Charles Edward Russell (1860—1941) was an American journalist and politician. The author of a number of books of biography and social commentary, in 1928 he won a Pulitzer Prize for The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas.

C.E. Russell, 1919




Early life

Charles Edward Russell was born in Davenport, Iowa on 25 September 1860. His father was a newspaper editor at the Davenport Gazette, and a noted abolitionist. He attended St. Johnsbury academy, Vermont, for his high school education.

He wrote for the Minneapolis Journal, the Detroit Tribune, the New York World, William Randolph Hearst's Cosmopolitan, and the New York Herald. He was a newspaper editor from 1894-1902 in New York and Chicago.

Russell as drawn by Art Ward in 1912.

Muckraking journalist

In his memoirs, Bare Hands and Stone Walls, Russell stated that "transforming the a place where can can know some peace...some joy of living, some sense of the inexhaustible uglies of the universe in which he has been placed", was the purpose that inspired his work and his life. He was one of a group of journalists at the turn of the century who were called muckrakers. They investigated and reported—not with cold detachment—but with feeling and rage about the horrors of capitalism. In Soldier for the Common Good, an unpublished dissertation on Russell's life, author Donald Bragaw writes: "Historian Louis Filler has called Russell the leader of the muckrakers for contributing 'important studies in almost every field in which they ventured.' Most of Russell's work was of a 'pioneering nature: beef trusts...railroads...tenements...and the farm problem....[H]is real topic was injustice, wherever it was to be found."

Russell's reports on the corrupt practices and inhuman conditions at Chicago stock yards were the inspiration for Upton Sinclair's powerful novel The Jungle, which caused a national uproar that led to inspection reforms.

Social democratic politician

Russell was a cofounder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.[1] He was a member of the Socialist Party before World War I, operating the party's speakers bureau.

Russell was the Socialist candidate for Governor of New York in 1910 and 1912, and for U.S. Senator from New York in 1914. He also ran for Mayor of New York City. In 1915 he unexpectedly came out in support President Woodrow Wilson's war "preparedness campaign". This decision painted Russell into a tight corner politically as the majority of the SP's rank and file remained strongly anti-war.[2] leading to calls for Russell's expulsion.[3] Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs believed that Russell's decision to support Wilson's move for rearmament probably cost Russell the party's presidential nomination in 1916. While Debs disagreed profoundly with Russell on the issue, he applauded him for the courage of his convictions.[4] Aligning himself with Upton Sinclair, among others on the right-wing of the party, Russell continued to agitate for "responsible...Marxian" positions inside the Socialist Party through 1917. [5].

After the February Revolution, Russell was named by Woodrow Wilson to join a mission led by Elihu Root intended to keep the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky in the war. The mission report recommended that George Creel's Committee on Public Information conduct pro-war propaganda efforts in Russia. Russell personally lobbied Wilson to use the relatively new medium of film to influence the Russian public. [6] [7] Wilson was receptive and the CPI subsequently developed film and distribution networks in Russia over the next few months. [8] [9] Russell appears as himself in the 1917 film The Fall of the Romanoffs, directed by Herbert Brenon, which may have been a product of these efforts.[10]

Participation on the Root Mission was effectively a burning of bridges with the Socialist Party, which remained solidly opposed to the European war. Russell left the Socialist Party to join the Social Democratic League of America. He also worked with the AFL to help found the patriotic American Alliance for Labor and Democracy, an organization which agitated on behalf of American participation in the war among the country's workers. [11]

Russell subsequently became an editorial writer for left-liberal magazine The New Leader. [12] He died on 23 April 1941 in Washington, DC.

Works published


  • Such Stuff as Dreams (1902, poetry)
  • Thomas Chatterton: The Marvelous Boy (1908, biography)
  • The Greatest Trust in the World. Ridgway-Thayer Company. 1905. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  • The Uprising of the Many (1907)
  • Lawless Wealth (1908) (expose of the tobacco trust)
  • Why I Am a Socialist (1910)
  • These Shifting Scenes (1914)
  • Unchained Russia (1918, nonfiction)
  • After the Whirlwind (1919, nonfiction)
  • Bolshevism and the United States (1919, nonfiction)
  • The Story of the Non-partisan League (1920, nonfiction)
  • The Outlook for the Philippines (1922, nonfiction)
  • Julia Marlowe: Her Life and Art (1926, biography)
  • The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas (1927, biography)
  • A-Rafting on the Mississip(1928, nonfiction)
  • Bare Hands and Stone Walls: Some Recollections of a Sideline Reformer (1933, memoir)

Selected articles

  • "The Greatest of World’s Fairs". Munsey’s (November 1900).  
  • "The Story of the Nineteenth Century". Munsey’s (January 1901).  
  • "The Marvelous Boy". Munsey’s (February 1901).  
  • "Are There Two Rudyard Kiplings?". Cosmopolitan (October 1901).  
  • "Old St. Saviour’s, Southwark". Harper’s Monthly (November 1901).  
  • "Caste - The Curse of India.". Cosmopolitan (December 1906).  
  • "The American Language". The Saturday Evening Post (June 15, 1907).  
  • "At The Election". Cosmopolitan (January 1908).  
  • "At The Election 2: At The Throat of the Republic; about illegal voter registration.". Cosmopolitan (January 1908).  
  • "The Remedy of the Law". Hampton’s (August 1910).  
  • Russell, C. E.. "Collective Bargaining in the President's First Industrial Conference". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (American Academy of Political and Social Science) 90 (July 1920: Industrial Stability): 68–69. doi:10.1177/000271622009000116. ISSN 0002-7162, OCLC: 50544474.  
  • "The Growth of Caste in America". Cosmopolitan (March 1907).  
  • "Railroad Revolution". Pearson's Magazine (December 1909).  
  • "Take Them or Leave Them". The Century (June 1926).  
  • "An Old Reporter Looks at the Mad-House World". Scribner’s (October 1933).  


  1. ^ Ovington, Mary White (1914). "How NAACP Began". NAACP. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  2. ^ Germer, Adolph; L.E. Katterfeld, Walter Lanfersiek, Carl D. Thompson (1916-01-15). "Executive Secretary Candidates in Party Referendum Voice Views on Militarism and Preparedness." (PDF). The American Socialist [Chicago], v. 2, no. 27, whole no. 167 (Jan. 15, 1916), p. 2.. Socialist Party/Marxist History. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  3. ^ Barron, I.T. (1916-01-08). "Publishing Statements" (PDF). Letter to the Editor of The American Socialist, [Chicago], v. 2, no. 26, whole no. 166 (Jan. 8, 1916), p. 3.. Socialist Party/Marxist History. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  4. ^ Debs, Eugene V. (1916-01-29). "Russell and His War Views" (PDF). Letter to the Editor of The American Socialist, [Chicago], v. 2, no. 29, whole no. 169 (Jan. 29, 1916), p. 4.. Socialist Party/Marxist History. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  5. ^ Ghent, W.J.; Charmain London, Charles Edward Russell, Mary Craig Sinclair, Upton Sinclair, George Sterling, J.G. Phelps Stokes, William English Walling. (March 1917). "Democratic Defense: A Practical Program for Socialism" (PDF). The Socialist Party Bulletin, v. 1, no. 2, p. 14.. Socialist Party/Marxist Internet Archive. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  6. ^ Startt, James D. (Fall 1998). "American Film Propaganda in Revolutionary Russia". Prologue magazine, Fall 1998, Vol. 30, No. 3. National Archives. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  .
  7. ^ Template:Cite archive
  8. ^ Wilson, Woodrow; George Creel, Charles Edward Russell, Robert Lansing ((1966-1991)). Arthur S. Link. ed. "Plans for American Cooperation to Preserve and Strengthen the Morale of the Civil Population of Russia", synopsis and critique, enclosed in George Creel to Woodrow Wilson, June [Aug.] 20, 1917.  .
  9. ^ Wilson, Woodrow; George Creel, Charles Edward Russell, Robert Lansing (1966-1991). Arthur S. Link. ed. Charles Edward Russell to Wilson, Wilson to Russell, Wilson to Creel, November 10, 1917,.  
  10. ^ "IMDB entry: Charles Edward Russell". Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  11. ^ Shachtman, Max (August 1934). "The Second International in the War" (PDF). New International, Vol.1 No.2, August 1934, pp.43-47.. Socialist Workers Party/Marxist Internet Archive. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  
  12. ^ Shachtman, Max; James Burnham. (January 1939). "Intellectuals in Retreat III: The Actual Program" (PDF). New International, Vol.5, No.1, January 1939, pp.3-22.. Socialist Workers Party/Marxist Internet Archive.. Retrieved 2006-10-08.  


Further reading

  • Miraldi, Robert; Jeff Grubb, David Yu (2003). The Pen is Mightier: The Muckraking Life of Charles Edward Russell. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 352. ISBN 0-312-29292-9.  
  • Barrett, James R. (2002). Work and Community in the Jungle: Chicago's Packinghouse Workers, 1894-1922 (Working Class in American History). University of Illinois Press. p. 328. ISBN 0-252-06136-5.  
  • Merriam, Charles E. (November 1919). "American Publicity in Italy". American Political Science Review (American Political Science Association) 13 (4): 541–555. doi:10.2307/1944209.  

External links


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