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The Right Honourable
 The Earl Russell 
KG GCMG PC


In office
29 October 1865 – 28 June 1866
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by The Viscount Palmerston
Succeeded by The Earl of Derby
In office
30 June 1846 – 23 February 1852
Monarch Victoria
Preceded by Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Succeeded by The Earl of Derby

Born 18 August 1792(1792-08-18)
London, England
Died 28 May 1878 (age 85)
Political party Whig and Liberal
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Religion Church of England
Signature

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC (18 August 1792 – 28 May 1878), known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was an English Whig and Liberal politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century.

Contents

Background and education

Russell was born into the highest echelons of the British aristocracy. The Russell family had been one of the principal Whig dynasties in England since the 17th century, and were among the richest handful of aristocratic landowning families in the country, but as a younger son of the 6th Duke of Bedford he was not in line to inherit the family estates.

He was educated at Westminster School and the University of Edinburgh, which he attended for three years but did not take a degree.[1] He is one of only five university-educated British Prime Ministers to have not attended Oxford or Cambridge (the others being the Earl of Bute, Andrew Bonar Law, Neville Chamberlain and Gordon Brown.)

Politics

Russell entered parliament as a Whig in 1813. In 1819, Russell embraced the cause of parliamentary reform, and led the more reformist wing of the Whigs throughout the 1820s. When the Whigs came to power in 1830 in Earl Grey's government, Russell entered the government as Paymaster of the Forces, and was soon elevated to the Cabinet. He was one of the principal leaders of the fight for the Reform Act 1832, earning the nickname Finality Jack from his complacency pronouncing the Act a final measure. In 1834, when the leader of the Commons, Lord Althorp, succeeded to the peerage as Earl Spencer, Russell became the leader of the Whigs in the Commons, a position he maintained for the rest of the decade, until the Whigs fell from power in 1841. In this position, Russell continued to lead the more reformist wing of the Whig party, calling, in particular, for religious freedom, and, as Home Secretary in the late 1830s, played a large role in democratizing the government of British cities (other than London).

In 1845, as leader of the Opposition, Russell came out in favour of repeal of the Corn Laws, forcing Conservative Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel to follow him. When the Conservatives split the next year over this issue, the Whigs returned to power and Russell became Prime Minister. Russell's premiership was frustrating, and, due to party disunity and his own ineffectual leadership, he was unable to get many of the measures he was interested in passed.

Russell's first government coincided with the Great Irish Famine of the late 1840s. Russell's government also saw conflict with his headstrong Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, whose belligerence and support for continental revolution he found embarrassing. When, without royal approval, Palmerston recognized Napoleon III's coup of 2 December 1851, Palmerston was forced to resign, and the ministry soon collapsed.

Portrait of John Russell by Francis Grant, 1853

After a short-lived minority Conservative government under the Earl of Derby, Russell brought the Whigs into a new coalition government with the Peelite Conservatives, headed by the Peelite Lord Aberdeen. Russell served again as Leader of the House of Commons, and together with Palmerston was instrumental in getting Britain involved in the Crimean War, against the wishes of the cautious, Russophile Aberdeen. Incompetence in the early stages of the war, however, led to the collapse of the government, and Palmerston formed a new government. Although Russell was initially included, he did not get on well with his former subordinate, and temporarily retired from politics in 1855, focusing on writing.

In 1859, following another short-lived Conservative government, Palmerston and Russell made up their differences, and Russell consented to serve as Foreign Secretary in a new Palmerston cabinet - usually considered the first true Liberal Cabinet. This period was a particularly eventful one in the world outside Britain, seeing the Unification of Italy, the American Civil War, and the 1864 war over Schleswig-Holstein between Denmark and the German states. Russell's handling of these crises was not particularly noteworthy, and he was always overshadowed by his more eminent chief. In particular, his attempts to attain British mediation in the American war, which were shot down by the cautious Palmerston, did not improve his position. Russell was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Amberley, of Amberley in the County of Gloucester and of Ardsalla in the County of Meath, and Earl Russell, of Kingston Russell in the County of Dorset, in 1861.

When Palmerston suddenly died in late 1865, Russell again became Prime Minister. His second premiership was short and frustrating, and Russell failed in his great ambition of expanding the franchise - a task that would be left to his Conservative successors, Derby and Benjamin Disraeli. In 1866, party disunity again brought down his government, and Russell went into permanent retirement.

Legacy

He was succeeded as Liberal leader by former Peelite William Ewart Gladstone, and was thus the last true Whig to serve as Prime Minister. He may have served as Anthony Trollope's model for the character of Plantagenet Palliser. An ideal statesman, said Trollope, should have "unblemished, unextinguishable, inexhaustible love of country...But he should also be scrupulous, and, as being scrupulous, weak."[2]

Among Russell's descendants is the renowned philosopher Bertrand Russell, his grandson.

The 1832 Reform Act and the democratisation of the government of British cities are partly attributed to his efforts.

He also worked for emancipation, leading the attack on the Test and Corporation acts, which were repealed in 1828, as well as towards legislation limiting working hours in factories in the 1847 Factory Act, and the Public Health Act of 1848.

His government's approach to dealing with the Irish Potato Famine is now widely condemned as counterproductive, ill-informed and disastrous; however, it has been argued that Russell himself (a "Foxite" populist) was sympathetic to the plight of the Irish poor, and that many of his relief proposals were blocked by his cabinet and the British Parliament.

Russell's governments

Literature

In 1819 Lord John Russell published his book "Life of Lord Russell" about his famous ancestor. Between 1853 and 1856, he edited the Memoirs, Journal and Correspondence of Thomas Moore, which was published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans over 8 volumes. [3] [4]

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens was dedicated to Lord John Russell "In remembrance of many public services and private kindnesses."

See also

References

  1. ^ John Prest, Lord John Russell (University of South Carolina Press, 1972), 11-13.
  2. ^ Quoted in Blair G. Kenney, "Trollope's Ideal Statesmen: Plantagenet Palliser and Lord John Russell" in Nineteenth-Century Fiction, Vol. 20, No. 3. (Dec., 1965), pp. 281-285.
  3. ^ Internet Archive: Details: Memoirs, journal, and correspondence of Thomas Moore. Ed. by the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, M.P
  4. ^ Internet Archive: Details: Memoirs, journal, and correspondence of Thomas Moore. Ed. by the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, M.P

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
John Calcraft
Paymaster of the Forces
1830 – 1834
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt
Preceded by
Viscount Althorp
Leader of the House of Commons
1834
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Peel
Preceded by
Henry Goulburn
Home Secretary
1835 – 1839
Succeeded by
The Marquess of Normanby
Preceded by
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Leader of the House of Commons
1835 – 1841
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded by
The Marquess of Normanby
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
1839 – 1841
Succeeded by
Lord Stanley
Preceded by
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
30 June 1846 – 23 February 1852
Succeeded by
The Earl of Derby
Leader of the House of Commons
1846 – 1852
Succeeded by
Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded by
The Earl of Malmesbury
Foreign Secretary
1852 – 1853
Succeeded by
The Earl of Clarendon
Preceded by
Benjamin Disraeli
Leader of the House of Commons
1852 – 1855
Succeeded by
The Viscount Palmerston
Preceded by
The Earl Granville
Lord President of the Council
1854 – 1855
Succeeded by
The Earl Granville
Preceded by
Sidney Herbert
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1855
Succeeded by
Sir William Molesworth, Bt
Preceded by
The Earl of Malmesbury
Foreign Secretary
1859 – 1865
Succeeded by
The Earl of Clarendon
Preceded by
The Viscount Palmerston
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
29 October 1865 – 28 June 1866
Succeeded by
The Earl of Derby
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Lord William Russell
Richard Fitzpatrick
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
with Lord William Russell

1813 – 1817
Succeeded by
Lord William Russell
Lord Robert Spencer
Preceded by
Lord William Russell
Lord Robert Spencer
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
with Lord William Russell 1818–1819
John Peter Grant 1819–1820

18181820
Succeeded by
John Peter Grant
John Nicholas Fazakerly
Preceded by
William Henry Fellowes
Lord Frederick Montagu
Member of Parliament for Huntingdonshire
with William Henry Fellowes

18201826
Succeeded by
William Henry Fellowes
Viscount Mandeville
Preceded by
Viscount Duncannon
Member of Parliament for Bandon
18261830
Succeeded by
Viscount Bernard
Preceded by
Viscount Ebrington
Lord William Russell
Member of Parliament for Tavistock
with Lord William Russell

18301831
Succeeded by
Lord William Russell
John Heywood Hawkins
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Dyke Acland
Viscount Ebrington
Member of Parliament for Devonshire
with Viscount Ebrington

18311832
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Devonshire South
with John Crocker Bulteel 1832–1835
Sir John Yarde-Buller 1835

18321835
Succeeded by
Sir John Yarde-Buller
Montague Parker
Preceded by
William Henry Hyett
George Poulett Scrope
Member of Parliament for Stroud
with George Poulett Scrope

18351841
Succeeded by
George Poulett Scrope
William Henry Stanton
Preceded by
Sir Matthew Wood
George Grote
William Crawford
James Pattison
Member of Parliament for City of London
with Sir Matthew Wood 1841–1843
John Masterman 1841–1857
George Lyall 1841–1847
James Pattison 1843–1849
Lionel de Rothschild 1847–1861
Sir James Duke 1849–1861
Robert Wigram Crawford 1857–1861

1841 – 1861
Succeeded by
Lionel de Rothschild
Sir James Duke
Robert Wigram Crawford
Western Wood
Party political offices
Preceded by
The Viscount Palmerston
Leader of the British Liberal Party
1865 – 1866
Succeeded by
William Ewart Gladstone
Preceded by
The Earl Granville
Liberal Leader in the House of Lords
1865 – 1868
Succeeded by
The Earl Granville
Academic offices
Preceded by
Andrew Rutherford
Rector of the University of Glasgow
1846 – 1847
Succeeded by
William Mure
Preceded by
Unknown
Rector of the University of Aberdeen
1863 – 1866
Succeeded by
Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Earl Russell
1861 – 1878
Succeeded by
Frank Russell

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC (1792-08-181878-05-28), known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whig and Liberal politician who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century.

Unsourced

  • Proverb - a definition: The wisdom of many and the wit of one.
  • Sanity calms but madness is much more interesting

External links


Simple English

The Rt Hon The Earl Russell
File:John Russell, 1st Earl Russell by Lowes Cato Dickinson


In office
30 June 1846 – 23 February 1852
29 October 186528 June 1866
Preceded by Sir Robert Peel, Bt
The Viscount Palmerston
Succeeded by The Earl of Derby

Born August 18, 1792
London, England
Died May 28, 1878
Political party Whig and Liberal

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, KG, GCMG, PC (18 August 179228 May 1878) was an English Whig and Liberal politician. He served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century.


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