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John Russell, 1st Earl Russell

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The Earl Russell</font></caption>
Image:lord_john_russell.jpg
Periods in Office: July, 1846 - February, 1852
October, 1865 - June, 1866
PM Predecessors: Sir Robert Peel, Bt
The Viscount Palmerston
PM Successor: The Earl of Derby
Date of Birth: 18 August 1792
Place of Birth: London
Political Party: Whig, Liberal

John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (August 18, 1792May 28, 1878), known as Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whig and Liberal statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century.

A younger son of the 6th Duke of Bedford, Russell was educated at Westminster School and then at Edinburgh University - one of only two university-educated British Prime Ministers to have attended somewhere other than Oxford or Cambridge. Russell entered parliament as a Whig in 1813. In 1819, Russell embraced the cause of parliamentary reform, and led the more reformist wing of the Whigs throughout the 1820s. When the Whigs came to power in 1830 in Earl Grey's government, Russell entered the government as Paymaster of the Forces, and was soon elevated to the Cabinet. He was one of the principal leaders of the fight for the Reform Act 1832. In 1834, when the leader of the Commons, Lord Althorp, succeeded to the peerage as Earl Spencer, Russell became the leader of the Whigs in the Commons, a position he maintained for the rest of the decade, until the Whigs fell from power in 1841. In this position, Russell continued to lead the more reformist wing of the Whig party, calling, in particular, for religious freedom, and, as Home Secretary in the late 1830s, played a large role in democratizing the government of British cities (other than London).

In 1845, as leader of the opposition, Russell came out in favour of repeal of the Corn Laws, forcing Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel to follow him. When the Tories split the next year over this issue, the Whigs returned to power and Russell became Prime Minister. Russell's premiership was frustrating, and, due to party disunity and his own ineffectual leadership, he was unable to get many of the measures he was interested in passed.

Russell's first government coincided with the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s. His ministry's adherence to its belief in a laissez-faire economic policy is credited with causing what had been a crisis in Ireland to become a calamity. Russell's government also saw conflict with his headstrong Foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, whose belligerence and support for continental revolution were frequently embarrassing. When, without royal approval, Palmerston recognized Napoleon III's coup of December 2, 1851, Palmerston was forced to resign, and the ministry soon collapsed.

After a short-lived minority Tory government under the Earl of Derby, Russell brought the Whigs into a new coalition government with the Peelite Tories, led by the Peelite Lord Aberdeen. Russell served again as Leader of the House of Commons, and together with Palmerston was instrumental in getting Britain involved in the Crimean War, against the wishes of the cautious, Russophile Aberdeen. Incompetence in the early stages of the war, however, led to the collapse of the government, and Palmerston formed a new government. Although Russell was initially included, he did not get on well with his former subordinate, and temporarily retired from politics in 1855, focusing on writing.

In 1859, following another short-lived Tory government, Palmerston and Russell made up their differences, and Russell consented to serve as Foreign Secretary in a new Palmerston cabinet - usually considered the first true Liberal Cabinet. This period was a particularly eventful one in the world outside Britain - the Unification of Italy, the American Civil War, and the 1864 war over Schleswig-Holstein between Denmark and the German states. Russell's handling of these crises was not particularly noteworthy, and he was always overshadowed by his more eminent chief. In particular, his attempts to attain British mediation in the American war, which were shot down by the cautious Palmerston, did not improve his position. Russell was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Amberley, of Amberley in the County of Gloucester and of Ardsalla in the County of Meath, and Earl Russell, of Kingston Russell in the County of Dorset, in 1861.

When Palmerston suddenly died in late 1865, Russell again became Prime Minister. His second premiership was short and frustrating, and Russell failed in his great ambition of expanding the franchise - a task that would be left to his Tory successors, Derby and Benjamin Disraeli. In 1866, party disunity again brought down his government, and Russell went into permanent retirement.

He was succeeded as Liberal leader by former Peelite William Ewart Gladstone, and was thus the last true Whig to serve as Prime Minister.

Among Russell's descendants is the philosopher Bertrand Russell, his grandson.

Lord John Russell's first government (July 1846 - February 1852)

Missing image
John-Russell-arms.PNG
Arms of John Russell

Changes

  • July, 1847 - Henry Labouchere succeeds Lord Clarendon as President of the Board of Trade. Labouchere's successor as Chief Secretary for Ireland is not in the cabinet. T.B. Macaulay leaves the cabinet. His successor as Paymaster-General is not in the Cabinet.
  • March, 1850 - Lord Carlisle succeeds Lord Campbell as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He remains First Commissioner of Woods and Forests
  • July, 1850 - Lord Truro succeeds Lord Cottenham as Lord Chancellor. Lord Seymour succeeds Lord Carlisle as First Commissioner of Woods and Forests. Lord Carlisle remains Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
  • 1851 - Fox Maule, the Secretary at War, and Lord Granville, the Paymaster-General, enter the Cabinet
  • December, 1851 - Lord Granville succeeds Lord Palmerston as Foreign Secretary. Granville's successor as Paymaster-General is not in the Cabinet
  • February, 1852 - Fox Maule succeeds J.C. Hobhouse as Preisdent of the Board of Control. Maule's successor as Secretary at War is not in the Cabinet.

Lord Russell's second government (October 1865 - June 1866)

Changes

  • February, 1866 - Lord de Grey succeeds Sir Charles Wood as Secretary for India. Lord Hartington succeeds de Grey as Secretary for War.


Preceded by:
John Calcraft
Paymaster of the Forces
1830–1834
Succeeded by:
Sir Edward Knatchbull, Bt
Preceded by:
The Viscount Althorp
Leader of the House of Commons
1834
Succeeded by:
Sir Robert Peel
Preceded by:
Henry Goulburn
Home Secretary
1835–1839
Succeeded by:
The Marquess of Normanby
Preceded by:
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Leader of the House of Commons
1835–1841
Succeeded by:
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Preceded by:
The Marquess of Normanby
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies
1839–1841
Succeeded by:
Lord Stanley
Preceded by:
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Prime Minister
1846–1852
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Derby
Preceded by:
Sir Robert Peel, Bt
Leader of the House of Commons
1846–1852
Succeeded by:
Benjamin Disraeli
Preceded by:
The Earl of Malmesbury
Foreign Secretary
1852–1853
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Clarendon
Preceded by:
Benjamin Disraeli
Leader of the House of Commons
1852–1855
Succeeded by:
The Viscount Palmerston
Preceded by:
The Earl Granville
Lord President of the Council
1854–1855
Succeeded by:
The Earl Granville
Preceded by:
Sidney Herbert
Secretary of State for the Colonies
1855
Succeeded by:
Sir William Molesworth, Bt
Preceded by:
The Earl of Malmesbury
Foreign Secretary
1859–1865
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Clarendon
Preceded by:
The Viscount Palmerston
Prime Minister
1865–1866
Succeeded by:
The Earl of Derby
Preceded by:
The Viscount Palmerston
Leader of the British Liberal Party
1865–1866
Succeeded by:
William Ewart Gladstone

Template:End box


Preceded by:
New Creation
Earl Russell
Succeeded by:
John Russell

Template:End boxde:John Russell, 1. Earl Russell fr:Lord John Russell sv:Lord John Russell

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