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Richard B. Russell 1952 Democratic Convention Poster

Richard B. Russell 1952 Democratic Convention Poster

Descriptive Summary

Title: Richard B. Russell 1952 Democratic Convention Poster
Creator: Russell, Richard B. (Richard Brevard), 1897-1971
Dates: 1952
Language: English
Extent: 1 item(s)
Collection Number: RBRL/527
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: Richard B. Russell Jr. served in public office for fifty years as a state legislator (1920-1931), governor of Georgia (1931-1932), and U.S. Senator (1933-1971). Best known for his opposition to civil rights legislation, Russell also focused on national defense, agriculture, soil and water conservation, and economic growth in Georgia. This collection contains a poster used during Russell's brief campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1952.

Collection Description

Historical 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

This collection contains a poster used during Russell's brief campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1952.


Administrative Information

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.

Conditions Governing Access

This item is available for research.

Preferred Citation

Richard B. Russell 1952 Democratic Convention Poster. Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.


Related Materials and Subjects

Subject Terms

Presidential candidates -- United States.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 
folder
01Richard B. Russell Poster, 1952