Richard B. Russell Jr.

Richard Brevard Russell, 1897-1971

Richard B. Russell Jr. was born November 2, 1897 in Winder, Georgia. In 1918, Russell graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Laws degree. In 1920 his political career began, he was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. A decade later he became Georgia’s governor. His most significant accomplishment was the reorganization of the state government by reducing the number of agencies from 102 to 17. In 1932, the death of a Georgia Senator opened the door for Russell to enter national politics. Russell announced his candidacy and would win the election. He entered the Senate as the youngest member during a troublesome time in the U.S. He soon would become heavily involved on several committees and administrations setup to help bring the country out the depression.

Richard B. Russell Jr. (right) campaigns in Warm Springs for U.S. presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Russell, upon his election to the U.S. Senate in 1933, helped to ensure passage of Roosevelt’s New Deal programs throughout the 1930s. (Courtesy of Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries)

World War II and post-World War II

In 1933 Russell was appointed to the Naval Affairs Committee, and he continued to serve when that committee and the Military Affairs Committee were reorganized in 1946 to form the Armed Services Committee. Russell served on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the Central Intelligence Agency’s congressional oversight committee, and the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, as well as on the Democratic Policy and Democratic Steering committees from their inceptions. After World War II (1941-45), Russell’s seniority placed him in key power positions both legislatively and politically throughout his career. Russell died of complications from emphysema at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., on January 21, 1971. Today, his old office building is named the Richard Brevard Russell Senate Office Building also named in his honor; a nuclear-powered submarine, a federal courthouse in Atlanta, a state highway, a dam and lake.[1]

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[1] Richard B. Russell (1897-1971).  The New Georgia Encyclopedia. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-1391 (accessed February 22, 2011).

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