Richard B. Russell, Jr., Senator from Georgia

By Gilbert C. Fite | Go to book overview
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A Rich Heritage

November 2, 1897, was a cold, blustery day in North Georgia. Richard B. Russell of Winder was in court in Jefferson some thirteen miles away. When word reached him in the early morning hours that his son had been born, he hurried toward Winder as fast as a team and buggy could take him. Arriving at his home on Park Street, he rushed into the house to greet his wife Ina and Dr. C. B. Almond, who was holding the new baby boy. Exuberant over finally having a son after fathering three daughters, Russell clapped Dr. Almond so hard on the back that the doctor stumbled across the room and nearly dropped the infant. Family tradition has it that Russell then rushed out into the backyard and fired both barrels of his shotgun into the air to celebrate the grand event. Russell wrote years later that he could scarcely contain his joy when he learned that the baby was a boy. Of course, the first son and newest member of the family was named Richard Brevard Russell, Jr.1

Richard B. Russell, Jr., was born into a successful and accomplished family whose roots sank deep in American history. As one admirer said of young Russell's father, "He had descended from the oldest and choicest American stock."2 Of English background, the Russells had lived in South Carolina and Georgia since colonial times. John Russell, Richard, Sr.'s, great-great-grandfather, was a businessman who lived near Charleston, South Carolina. Because of his sympathies with the British during the American Revolution, he was forced to flee the country and settle in the Bahamas. John's oldest son, Edward William, returned to the United States, first to Florida and then to Glynn County on the Georgia coast, where he established a successful plantation in the 1820s. In 1824 Edward William married Susan Sarah Way, the daughter of a prominent Liberty County family. Their oldest son, William John, lived in the home community until 1845, when he moved to Marietta in North Georgia. In the 1850s, in partnership with Charles James Mc


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