Daniel Lindsay Russell

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Daniel Lindsay Russell
Daniel Lindsay Russell.jpg
49th Governor of North Carolina
In office
January 12, 1897 – January 15, 1901
Lieutenant Charles A. Reynolds
Preceded by Elias Carr
Succeeded by Charles Brantley Aycock
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from North Carolina's 3rd district
In office
Preceded by Alfred Moore Waddell
Succeeded by John Williams Shackelford
Personal details
Born (1845-08-07)August 7, 1845
Brunswick County, North Carolina
Died May 14, 1908(1908-05-14) (aged 62)
near Wilmington, North Carolina
Political party Republican
Occupation Attorney, judge

Daniel Lindsay Russell, Jr. (August 7, 1845 – May 14, 1908) was the 49th Governor of North Carolina, serving from 1897 to 1901, an attorney and judge, and a politician elected as state representative and to the United States Congress. Although he fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War, Russell and his father were both Unionists. After the war, Russell joined the Republican Party in North Carolina, which was an unusual affiliation for one of the planter class. He served as a state judge, as well as in the state and national legislatures.

Elected on a Fusionist ticket in 1896, a collaboration between Republicans and Populists that was victorious over the Democrats, Russell was the first Republican elected as governor since the end of the Reconstruction era in 1877. In 1899 Democrats regained power in the state legislature and passed a new constitution that disfranchised blacks and many poor whites, in order to avoid just such a coalition. Russell was the last Republican elected as governor until 1973. There were changes in political affiliations in the late 20th century. Following passage of national civil rights legislation enforcing suffrage and other rights for minorities, southern white conservatives left the Democrats and moved into the Republican Party.

Early life and education[edit]

Born on Winnabow Plantation in Brunswick County near Wilmington, North Carolina, Russell, Jr. was the son of Daniel Lindsay Russell, of a prominent planter family. He was educated privately by tutors before attending the Bingham School in Orange County, North Carolina.

He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but left soon after the outbreak of the American Civil War. He was commissioned as a captain in the Confederate Army and served in the war.


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, Russell 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 to suppress Republican political activity and voting, 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 the Democratic Party 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, 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. Disgruntled, Dockery 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] He served one four-year term. Although he was not up for election in 1898, Democrats used him as a foil in a white supremacist campaign. Russell had signed new legislation to extend the franchise for the first time since Reconstruction by supporting a reduction in property requirements for voters, which benefited whites, the majority in the state, as well as blacks.

On November 8, 1898, the voters of Wilmington, then the state's largest city and with a black majority, elected a biracial city government: the mayor was white as were 2/3 of the city aldermen. But, political tensions were so high in 1898 that white agitators, led by the former gubernatorial candidate Alfred Waddell, had planned to overthrow the city government if the Democrats lost. They engendered mob violence in Wilmington. Their insurrection was a coup d'etat against the mayor and city council, the only overthrow of an elected government that has taken place in the United States. Alfred Waddell led a mob of white men in attacking the offices and destroying the printing plant for The Record, the only African-American newspaper in the state.

Russell ordered the Wilmington Light Infantry (WLI) to quell the riot, but they became involved and shot some blacks. Together with federal Navy Reserves, they intimidated both blacks and whites.[3] The mob moved through the city's African-American neighborhoods, killing some people and chasing hundreds of blacks from the city. Although the number of casualties was uncertain, only blacks were reported as killed; one white man was critically wounded.[3] The mob installed a new city council that elected Waddell as mayor that same day. After nearly 2100 blacks left the city permanently, its demographics changed to a white majority.

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


  1. ^ Our Campaigns - NC District 03 Race - Nov 05, 1878 at www.ourcampaigns.com
  2. ^ Our Campaigns - NC Governor Race - Nov 03, 1896 at www.ourcampaigns.com
  3. ^ a b "Chapter 5", 1898 Wilmington Race Riot Commission Report, North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Elias Carr
Governor of North Carolina
Succeeded by
Charles Brantley Aycock