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Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup B: Georgia Gubernatorial Papers

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup B: Georgia Gubernatorial Papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup B: Georgia Gubernatorial Papers
Creator: Russell, Richard B. (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971
Inclusive Dates: 1930-1933
Language(s): English
Extent: 3 box(es) (1 linear foot)
Collection Number: RBRL001RBR_B
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Although a small series, the Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Subgroup B. Georgia Gubernatorial Papers are an important source of information on the 1930 gubernatorial campaign, the Robert E. Burns extradition case, and the Georgia state budget for 1932 to 1933.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Richard Brevard Russell, Jr. held public office for fifty years as a state legislator, governor, and U.S. senator. The highlights of his legislative career included support of non-interventionist foreign policy, passage of the National School Lunch Program, securing funding for military installations and research facilities—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and his opposition to equal rights for African Americans, most evident in the filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Russell was born in Winder, GA on November 2, 1897, to Judge Richard B. Russell, Sr. and Ina Dillard Russell, a teacher. He was the fourth of thirteen children and the first son. He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Georgia in 1918. After a brief period practicing law, Russell ran for and won a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives in 1920. In 1927, he was elected Speaker of the House, a position he held until 1931. In 1930, Russell ran for governor against a crowded field of seasoned candidates, but he was victorious thanks to a grassroots campaign and his skill in door-to-door canvassing. He took the oath of office in June 1931 but only spent eighteen months as governor before the death of Senator William J. Harris presented him with the opportunity to run for the United States Senate.

Russell entered the U.S. Senate in 1933 and served until his death in 1971. He became one of the Senate's most influential members. During his tenure, he served sixteen years as chair of the Armed Services Committee and held a seat on the Appropriation Committee that spanned his tenure in the Senate. Additionally, Russell held positions on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, the Committee on Immigration, the Aeronautical and Space Sciences Committee, and the Democratic Policy and Democratic Steering Committees.

Although he wielded considerable power through these committee appointments, Russell did not seek a position in the Senate leadership. Instead, he supported the ambitions of his protégé, Senator Lyndon Johnson from Texas for majority whip and later for majority leader. Russell ended his career as president pro tempore of the Senate—a post reserved for the member with the longest tenure in the Senate—making him third in the line of presidential succession.

Russell was known for his support of national defense, non-interventionist foreign policy, and his advocacy for agricultural interests (particularly those in Georgia). Russell opposed the United States entangling itself in international conflicts, especially in Vietnam and the Congo. In agricultural policy, the creation of the National School Lunch Program in 1946 was his most significant achievement for the nation's farmers. The program had the double effect of providing nutritious meals for schoolchildren while avoiding an economic crash by giving farmers a way to sell their surplus produce.

Russell's opposition to civil rights legislation overshadowed his many legislative achievements. He began contesting civil rights legislation as early as 1935 when he joined other southern senators to block anti-lynching bills. Over three decades, Russell developed a reputation as a defender of "white traditions" and white supremacy.

During the Senate's debate of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Russell led the Southern Bloc in a sixty-day filibuster in an attempt to prevent the bill's passage, vowing to "resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races." The filibuster came to an end only after a partnership of moderate Republicans and northern Democrats introduced a compromise bill that garnered the sixty-seven votes needed to invoke cloture and end the filibuster. The substitute civil rights bill passed on June 19 by a margin of 73-27.

Though Russell advised against attempts to resist the Civil Rights Act at the state level, he remained unapologetic in his criticism of it. In a speech given in the Senate on June 18, 1964, Russell sought to encourage the other members of the Southern Bloc, saying "…there will never come a time when it will be necessary for any one of us to apologize for his conduct or his courage."

Russell left behind a list of political and legislative achievements and a reputation for mastery of legislative strategy. Despite his other distinctions, racial animus and obstructionism would become the most remembered aspects of his legacy. As biographer Gilbert Fite noted, Russell might well have achieved more, were it not for his racial views.

Scope and Content

Subgroup B. Georgia Gubernatorial Papers includes an incomplete series of campaign files, office papers, and speeches. Although a small series, the gubernatorial papers are an important source of information on the 1930 gubernatorial campaign, the Robert E. Burns extradition case, and the state budget for 1932 to 1933.

Organization and Arrangement

Subgroup B, Georgia Gubernatorial Papers, is organized into three series: campaign, general files, and speech.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions


Preferred Citation

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Collection, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, The University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia.

Processing Notes

Clippings have been copied onto bond paper for protection of content.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared on: 2008.

Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Cotton -- Prices -- United States.
Georgia. Governor (1931-1933 : Russell)
Governors -- Georgia.
Political campaigns -- Georgia.
Political campaigns.
Roosevelt, Franklin D.
Russell, Richard B. (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971

Related Collections in this Repository

Richard B. Russell, Sr. Papers

Russell Family Collection

Patience Elizabeth Russell Peterson Papers

Hugh Peterson, Sr. Papers

Herman E. Talmadge Collection

Lamartine G. Hardman Collection

Related Collections in Other Repositories

John C. Stennis Papers, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University

Richard B. Russell, Jr. Gubernatorial Papers, Georgia Department of Archives and History

Lyndon B. Johnson Papers, Lyndon B. Johnson Library

U.S. Senate. Committee on Appropriations, Center for Legislative Archives, NARA

U.S. Senate. Committee on Armed Services, Center for Legislative Archives, NARA

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing


Subgroup B. Georgia Gubernatorial Papers, 1930-1933

3 box(es) (1 linear foot)
On 27 June 1931, Richard B. Russell, Jr. took the oath of office, becoming Georgia's youngest governor in the state's history. During his tenure as governor, Russell's most significant achievement was to complete a comprehensive reorganization of the state government by slashing the number of state agencies from 102 to 17. He also cut state expenditures by twenty percent, balanced the state budget without cutting salaries, and honored $2.8 million in delinquent state obligations. All of this was accomplished during his eighteen months as governor of Georgia. This subgroup of files from Russell's governorship includes incomplete series of campaign files, office papers, and speeches. Although a small series, the gubernatorial papers are an important source of information on the 1930 gubernatorial campaign, the Robert E. Burns extradition case, and the state budget for 1932 to 1933. Some gubernatorial papers were transferred to the United States Senatorial Papers Early Office Series and Political Series along with the 1932 senatorial campaign files. The official papers of Governor Russell are maintained by the Georgia Department of Archives and History in Atlanta. See also the description for Subgroup D. Winder Papers.

I. Campaign , 1930

( 5 folder(s) )
Campaign files for the 1930 gubernatorial race include copies of Russell's platform, speeches, and clippings.
I.11Campaign/Press Clippings, 1930
I.12Campaign/Press Clippings, 1930
I.13Campaign/Press Comments, 1930
I.14Campaign/Platform, 1930
I.15Campaign/Speech - Democratic Nomination Acceptance, 1930
OS 12[Campaign/Official Ballot], 1930 November 4

II. General Files , 1930-1933

( 5 folder(s) )
The General Files consist of correspondence, the Robert E. Burns extradition case, and the state budget for 1932 to 1933.
II.12Robert E. Burns Case
II.14Clippings, 1931
II.15Clippings, 1932

III. Speech , 1930-1933

( 13 folder(s) )
The speech files contain handwritten and typed speeches. Topics include state government reorganization, cotton prices and legislation, and endorsement of Franklin D. Roosevelt's campaign for the presidency.
III.11Message to General Assembly, 1933 January 10
III.12Pro-Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932 November [?]
III.13Pro-Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932
III.14Richard B. Russell Jr. Introduction of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932
III.15Price of Cotton Speech, 1932 January 22
III.16Savannah Road Opening, 1932 January 19
III.17Speech of John H. Carter at Alumni Association, University of Florida, 1931 October 31
III.18Louisiana Cotton Holiday Plan, 1930 September
III.19Governor Long Cotton Plan, 1931 September 8
III.110Cotton Situation, 1931
III.111Inaugural Address, 1931 June 27
III.112Address Before Reorganization Committee, 1931 April 28
III.113Governor - Elect Washington Birthday Speech, 1931 February 22