Alfred Francis Russell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alfred Francis Russell
Alfred Russell2.jpg
10th President of Liberia
In office
January 20, 1883 – January 7, 1884
Preceded by Anthony William Gardiner
Succeeded by Hilary R. W. Johnson
10th Vice President of Liberia
In office
January 7, 1878 – January 20, 1883
President Anthony William Gardiner
Preceded by Charles Harmon
Succeeded by James Thompson
Personal details
Born (1817-08-25)August 25, 1817
Lexington, Kentucky, United States
Died April 4, 1884(1884-04-04) (aged 66)
Political party True Whig

Alfred Francis Russell (25 August 1817 – 4 April 1884) served as the tenth President of Liberia from 1883 to 1884. He immigrated to Liberia in 1833 with his mother, Amelie "Milly" Crawford, his cousin, Lucretia Russell and her four children Cynthia, Gilbert, George, and Henry. He served as a Methodist missionary and later owned a large coffee and sugarcane farm. Russell remained in the ministry and served in the Senate as well. He was elected vice-president under Anthony William Gardiner in 1881, becoming President of Liberia on the latter's resignation due to poor health.

Early life[edit]

Russell was born in Lexington, Kentucky, the son of Amelie "Milly" Crawford. Russell was born a slave to his then-master Jane Hawkins Todd Irvine. He and his mother were sold to Robert Wickliffe and Mary Owen Todd Russell Wickliffe[1] or Mrs. Polly as he and his mother called her, a wealthy heiress of the frontiersman, Colonel John Todd and the daughter of Irvine.[2] John Todd was the brother of Levi Todd, the grandfather of Mary Todd Lincoln.[3] It was publicly exposed by Robert Breckinridge that John Russell (Mary Owen Todd Russell's son from her previous marriage with James Russell) engaged in a relationship with Crawford during a summer visit with his grandmother and thereby fathered Alfred. Alfred's father being white and his mother being an octoroon gave him his obvious mixed-race appearance. After Wickliffe emancipated Alfred, his mother, Lucy, and her four children they left for Liberia.[4][5] Alfred was fifteen years old when he and his family left on the brig Ajax to go to Liberia, West Africa with many of the first frontiersman of the country. They arrived in Liberia on July 11, 1833.[1]

Political career[edit]

In 1881 when Anthony Gardiner won the presidency for a third term, Russell also won Vice-President. When health issues made Gardiner resign three years later, Russell became president.

Presidency (1883–1884)[edit]

Territorial conflict with the British[edit]

The conflict with the British, which had reached a crisis during the Gardiner administration, was still unsolved. Two months after Russell took office, in March 1883, the British Government annexed the Gallinas territory west of the Mano River and formally incorporated it into Sierra Leone. Whenever the British and French seemed intent on enlarging at Liberia's expense the neighboring territories they already controlled, periodic appearances by U.S. warships helped discourage encroachment, even though successive American administrations rejected appeals from Monrovia for more forceful support.[6] Russell, along with Gardiner, has been notably blamed for Liberia's losing much of its territory to the British and most likely because of this Russell was not elected to a second term.


In the decades after 1868, escalating economic difficulties weakened the state's dominance over the coastal indigenous population. Conditions worsened, the cost of imports was far greater than the income generated by exports of coffee, rice, palm oil, sugar cane, and timber. Liberia tried desperately to modernize its largely agricultural economy.

Death and legacy[edit]

Russell died three months after he left office on April 4, 1884.[7]

Russell is survived by many descendants in Liberia, West Africa and also some U.S. states like Maryland, Kentucky, and South Carolina.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Charles Harmon
Vice President of Liberia
1881 – 1883
Succeeded by
James Thompson
Preceded by
Anthony W. Gardiner
President of Liberia
1883 – 1884
Succeeded by
Hilary R. W. Johnson